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Who Am I
“He’s awake! Please, let it be true. ” I heard a voice ask in a shaking disbelieving voice.
I awaken with a start. I looked around, and was confused by my surroundings. I was staring at a bright white ceiling; I couldn’t seem to find the strength to move my head. I heard a voice in the distance that sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t match a name or face with the voice.
“Hurry Mike, go get the doctor!” The voice said again.
The person with the familiar voice quickly stood over me. Her face looked worn out with stress and worry, yet still beautiful, and was even more familiar then her voice. However, I still could not think of who she was and my confusion only grew.
A second face appeared. This one was a man who I didn’t recognize at all. He flashed a bright light several times in my eyes and touched my face.
“Welcome back Keith,” the strange man said with a big smile. “Congratulations Mrs. Waller, your son is finally awake, the surgery was a success.”
Son… is the familiar woman my mother? Surgery… did I have surgery? What is happening? I had so many questions, but I was too scared to even ask them.
The women began to cry as the doctor spoke those words and wrapped her arms around me. The boy, who she called Mike, also had tears in his eyes. I kept my eyes on him for awhile as the women hugged me. He also looked familiar. He had short spiky blonde hair, he was tall, and was muscular.
I finally took my eyes off of Mike and looked at the unfamiliar man. He wore a gentle smile on his face. He gave me a look that seemed to tell me he knew I was confused. “Mrs. Waller, I think your son doesn’t know what is going on, he probably doesn’t even recognize you. Do not worry though, this is very common in coma cases.”
At these words the women stopped hugging me and took a step back. “Of course, you’re right Dr. Tugina. I’m sorry Keith. I’ll let the doctor explain.”
“Keith this is going to be hard to hear but six years ago you were in a car accident. That car accident made you go into a coma and you have not awakened until today. Two days ago I had performed surgery on you, there was a donor that was a match with you, we did one of the first ever brain transplants. You probably don’t remember, but, this,” he pointed to the women, “Is your mother, and he,” pointing to the guy, “Is your brother, Mike. Do not worry after a week or two you will remember information and memories from before the accident.”
He was right, it was heard to hear. I know they were expecting me to speak, but it was a lot to comprehend. Six years… six whole years… I must have missed so much. I had a mother and a brother I barely recognized. They must have aged a little in the six years I was in a coma. Six years… I couldn’t believe it.
“I knew you two looked familiar,” I decided joking might help me handle the situation a little better.
“He still has that sense of humor he always had,” laughed my mother.
“Still the little punk he always was,” my brother said with a huge smile on his face.
Seeing their happiness, I couldn’t help but smile back at them.
It was a lot to take, but once the doctor left they slowly began to tell me about the six years I missed out, and the years before that were just fuzzy images to me. As they told me more about them the images became slightly clearer. Mike, who was 20, was three years older than me and from the stories of going to games, fishing, camping and just spending time together, we seemed really close.
I am seventeen now and only eleven when the accident happened. I was driving home with my dad from a Yankee’s game when we passed an intersection and a drunk driver ran a red light, and hit our car. Our car flipped over three times. My father didn’t make it and I was rushed to the hospital, but I fell into a coma almost instantly. They said the surgery was new, and I’m one of the first people to ever have this procedure done. I must come in monthly for check ups. They told me so many stories and we laughed and got to know each other again until we all grew too tired to talk anymore and fell asleep.
I had to stay in the hospital for a few more days so they could run tests, but everything came back with good results and I was sent home. I was nervous and excited to go home. I didn’t know how to continue the life I once had, the life I struggled to even remember. At the same time, it was also exciting to find out who I once was.
It was the first night at home that I had the first dream. It felt so real. I was a little boy and I was throwing a football with a man who I knew was my father. I was happy, and he looked happy too. It was a simple dream, most people probably wouldn’t even think much about it, but it felt so real. At first I thought it was my dad and it was a memory from before the accident, but the following day, I realized I was wrong. I looked at old videos and pictures from before the accident and my father in my dream was not the same man as the person in the photos of me and my dad. I didn’t tell my mom or Mike about the dream; I didn’t want to bother them. They never complained, but I know the past six years must have been hard on them. I even heard from a neighbor that Mike had a chance to go to one of the top universities on a full ride football scholarship, but turned it down so he could be with our mom.
Everything slowly began to come back to me. I could look at pictures and name family members and friends. I was able to recall some of my most cherished memories, and some unpleasant memories. The first time I remembered my father was painful, I remembered we were so close and how much I loved him, and knowing he was no longer here was excruciating. It was hard to deal with the death of my father. My family helped, but considering it was six years ago they were on better terms with it than I was. Old friends and family slowly started coming over. My mother didn’t want too many people over at once because she was worried I would be overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed nevertheless, but I appreciated the thought. After two months. I was almost back to normal.
I wasn’t perfectly back to normal though. For one, there were the dreams. They became more and more vivid, more real. They were no longer simple, they felt more personal. I had dreams of Christmas mornings, Thanksgiving feasts, and vacations with a family that wasn’t the family I saw in the pictures and spend everyday with, but in my dreams it felt like they were family. There were dreams of a woman, she was around my age and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. In my dreams, we were in love. I knew they weren’t ordinary dreams; I had the ordinary dreams, these felt so much more real. Then, there were things I did that my family claimed wasn’t like the person I was before the accident. They told me I struggled with school, but as I began to work to catch up on the years of schooling I missed I was doing fantastic, school came easy to me. My family joked that I had no rhythm, but when we went to my Aunt’s I sat down on her piano and played a song completely by ear. When my mother told the doctor’s about the unusual behavior they said it sometimes happens in coma patients. I still wouldn’t tell the doctors or my family about the dreams; I didn’t want them to be concerned, although I was starting to be.
I hoped the strange behavior and dreams would just go away, but things just got worse. Several months later, I was playing the piano in a local café when a women walked in who looked oddly familiar. When she heard my music, she turned pale and looked at me like I was a ghost. I couldn’t take my eyes off her during my performance, and her eyes never left mine. After I was done playing, I went to talk to this women but she left as I started to walk towards her.
I couldn’t forget this woman. She was always on my mind, and I didn’t know how I knew her. I told my brother and mother about her but when I described how she looked, beautiful long light brown hair, bright green eyes, medium height, and beautiful in every single way, they told me they were sure they had never seen her before. I hoped to see her again in the café, I would go there almost everyday, even when I wasn’t playing that day, but I didn’t see her again.
I was almost about to give up on my mystery girl when I saw her again. I was walking through the park one day when there she was, sitting on a bench reading a book. I knew I had to talk to her.
“Excuse me miss, but do I know you from somewhere?” I asked her hopefully.
She looked up at me and when she saw my face she went pale, just like she did at the café. “No, I’m sorry I don’t know you,” she hastily said as tried to pull herself together.
She tried to leave, but I wouldn’t let her go that easily, not after I’ve been searching for her for weeks. “I’m sorry, but I feel like we know each other. I know you came into the café where I play piano, and when you saw me you had a weird look on your face, just like you do now, so don’t tell me you don’t know me. Please I just want to talk.”
“I honestly have to leave right now, I’m sorry. I’m late for a meeting, I can’t talk,” She seemed taken aback by me.
“Then meet me tomorrow, at the café at 7. I know this is crazy, having a stranger coming up to you like this, but I promise I won’t kill you or anything,” I raised my hand in a scout’s honor, hoping the joking would lighten her mood. “Just meet me there.”
“Um...okay,” she smiled. “Tomorrow at 7, the café, I’ll see you there.”
“I’m Keith by the way, what’s your name?” I shouted as she walked away.
She turned around to show me her beautiful smile that took my breath away, “Miranda.”
I woke up in the middle of the night that night thinking I had gone crazy. I realized where I knew her from; Miranda was the girl from my dream.
I anxiously watched the clock slowly tick closer to 7:30 as I sat at the café waiting for this dream girl to come. Finally, Miranda walked in and smiled when she saw me, that beautiful smile made me lose my breath again and she sat down across from me.
“I started to think you weren’t going to show,” I teased.
“I almost didn’t, but something compelled me to come,” Miranda replied. “So have you figured out where you know me from?”
“Have you figured out why you turned so pale the first two times you saw me?” Better to not tell her where I know her from just yet, if ever, I thought.
“It’s silly, really. When I heard you playing piano, it just reminded me of someone I knew, that’s all.” She answered innocently, but for some reason her answer made me feel weird.
“Tell me more about who I reminded you of,” I didn’t know why I was so interested in this person.
Miranda talked for an hour about this guy named Caleb, who died almost a year ago. She began to describe Caleb. He was a very good piano player, and he was extremely smart. She said her and Caleb were in love before he died. That’s when it all hit me. In my dreams I was Caleb. Caleb was my brain donor. It was like I had part of Caleb in me.
“I don’t mean to be nosy, but did Caleb happen to donate organs or anything when he died?” I tried to sound causal, but it was a poor attempt.
“Actually he did,” She responded suspiciously, “He donated his brain, why do you ask?”
“This is going to sound insane, but please just listen to what I’m saying. I strongly think Caleb was my brain donor.” I said carefully.
She just stared speechlessly at me. I explained everything as I best could in the hopes that she would believe me.
“I know what I said is hard to believe. Everything I said is completely true,” I pleaded.
“I believe you,” she said in such a small voice I almost didn’t hear her, “I see a lot of Caleb in you, but yet you’re so different too. It’s like you’re Caleb and yourself fused together. This is incredible.”
We sat for hours talking about the differences and similarities between who I was before the accident and Caleb. Miranda told me all about Caleb’s life, his family, friends, and hobbies.
“I want to meet his family,” I said, surprising even myself. I thought about it from the moment I realized part of Caleb was in me, but I couldn’t decide if it was the best decision. I was already so confused with who I was, I didn’t want to confuse myself even more. As I said those words though, I knew it was the right choice.
The next week I went with Miranda to meet his family. Miranda still kept in close touch with them, so it wasn’t surprising when she told them she wanted to come over and she was planning on bringing a friend. We hadn’t told them about who I was, they didn’t even know I was the receiver of Caleb’s brain transplant. We didn’t even know if we were going to tell them.
Meeting Caleb’s family was great. They loved me, and kept saying how much I reminded them of Caleb. After spending time with them, I could see that they were ready to move on and were trying letting go of anything that made it feel like he was still there. Miranda and I decided not to tell them about Caleb’s brain; we worried it would prevent them from moving on as they have been.
Throughout the years, Miranda and I continued to grow closer to each other and it felt as if we were reunited through this strange series of events. Five years after we met we decided to get married. We invited Caleb’s family to the wedding, who we still constantly kept in touch with; they were like family to us. At the reception, some of his family members told me they knew my secret. They had figured out that I was Caleb’s receiver, and they suspected several other family members knew too but were in denial. I’ll never figure out how they realized it, but it worked out for the best, those who wanted to know and could handle it knew, and those who couldn’t handle it, believed I just happened to be a lot like Caleb.