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The Second Chance
Reaching up to my head, I half expected to feel the return of my luscious brown curls. All of my strength was exerted to reach up, and exhaustion over came me by doing just that. Lying in my uncomfortable hospital bed that had a stiff mattress and firm pillows, I noticed a mirror on the wall directly in front of me. Seeing my reflection for the first time in two years, devastation overcame me. Sitting up in my tattered hospital gown, my hair had all been gone, my ocean-blue eyes turned a blood-red, my lips a purplish shade, and I sat absent from my image; lifeless. Machines keeping me alive. The consistent beeps that emerged from the machines echoed in my mind. Resting in everlasting peace was my desire in contrast to that of my parents. Giving the mirror one final look before I closed my eyes for the day, it revealed the innocence of my face. In the process of leisurely falling back asleep, it was almost as if my spirit had drifted away from my body, and I was left to observe my lifeless form suffering; to take control of my own fate.
Drifting away from the suffering, the disease had subsided for the time being as I stared in to the small, round mirror once again. Happiness overcame me; my hair had returned to long, luscious curls, and my ocean-blue eyes were back to normal. The peace that I was searching for had finally arrived, and it was as if my fate had now been determined.
My parents perched next to my bedside drenched in sadness. Their tears were falling on my hospital gown as they bowed their heads and grasped my hand. My eyesight worsened, and now I could finally see my favorite flowers displayed all throughout my hospital room. The star gazer lilies were appearing to be full of life, which is why I adored them so much, given my condition. The smell of the fresh picked, luminous pink lilies consumed my senses as the aroma of nature entered my nasal passages. A smile soon appeared on my face, for I have yet to smell anything to the fullest for two years until then. The peace that I was searching for had finally arrived, and it was as if my fate had now been determined.
As I closed my eyes, I began to drift freely down the hallway. No one could see me, but I could certainly see them. Turning each corner, a new story would emerge. Around the first corner, a man was fighting for his life after gunshot wounds to his back. Around the second corner, doctors were desperately trying to save a woman who lost all consciousness during childbirth. Around the third corner, children struggling with severe cases of autism were giggling and enjoying life given their disability. Two years ago, I was a volunteer at the Autistic Support Center until the sickness destroyed me just short of my eighteenth birthday. Every Tuesday, a small child named Maxwell brightened my day. He was full of life, and proudly knew endless facts about cars. His front two teeth were missing, which made him have a lisp when he spoke. It was difficult for him to speak clearly, yet his appreciation for those around him defined his character despite his disability. Maxwell would always call me “Sissy Sweetie” when helping him. On the third Tuesday in November, Maxwell did not show up for his support. Curiosity entered my mind, and no one knew where he was; he never missed his support day.
Maxwell’s mother stood in the hospital looking defeated as I walked up to the front desk to inquire about him. Her eyes were filled with tears, and her face was streaming with bleeding mascara. She began to tell the receptionist about Maxwell, and I knew precisely what had happened. Her lips were moving, but it was like the room had been muted. Two Tuesdays ago, Maxwell came in to the support room with bruses all over his arms. He expressed that they were from his father who would get agitated with his disability. Maxwell was five years old, and like most five year olds, they tend to fib. In this case, Maxwell was doing anything but telling a lie. One night while his mother was working night shift, his father had beaten him so terribly that blunt trauma to the head with a baseball bat caused him to lose his life.
Upon realizing what had happened to Maxwell, I was frozen. My face turned a pale white, and guilt and regret defined me. The saline taste of the tears streaming down my face made me realize that what was happening was valid. I believed that it was my fault, for I had done nothing to help him. If action would have been taken on my part and not have overlooked his explanations as lies, Maxwell would still be alive today. For that, I feel as if my disease is karma for what had happened. Realizing this in that moment, Maxwell’s silhouette was playing with cars in the corner of the room. He was just like me; a spirit drifting about. Maxwell began to approach me as a tears streamed down my face. He grasped my hand, and looked up to my with his gentle brown eyes and expressed, “Sissy Sweetie, It is not your fault that Daddy hurt me. There was nothing you could have done. Come with me, and we can fly away to where my new home is.” The peace that I was searching for had finally arrived, and it was as if my fate had now been determined.
There was an illuminating light in the corner of the west wing as Maxwell and I journeyed through the hospital. Comfort and peace existed within me, and it was almost as if Maxwell was the cure to end my suffering. Walking hand in hand toward the light, I could not help but to smile knowing that everlasting peace lay ahead of me. We were about to step in to the light when an uncontrollable force separated us. Maxwell was dragged in to the illumination as my body floated down to a nearby hospital room. As the force was separating me from Maxwell, he shrieked “Sissy Sweetie, Sissy Sweetie! Don’t leave me!”
The nearby hospital room felt eerie, odd, and unnatural. Turning my head to the creaking hospital bed, a young boy who was no more than three lay there on life support. Bruses covered his naïve, soft face as tubes were providing him oxygen. The boy’s short, chestnut hair was drenched in sweat, and his cheeks were a rosy red. His father was grasping his hand as tears streamed down his scruffy face. The hospital report read that the young boy, Jasper, fell down a flight of stairs and cracked his head, leaving him in a coma. What was odd was that his father was apologizing repeatedly to his son while no one was in the room, yet when someone would come in, his actions altered.
His blood red eyes and scruffy face added to my assumption of what had happened. It was not the stairs that hurt Jasper, it was his own father. Jasper’s grandfather called him as he was in the process of apologizing. The truth came out within that very phone call as he expressed how his anger got the best of him. I listened intently as he revealed how he could not tell the police that he had caused his own child’s coma, for the fear of consequence. “Coward.” I thought to myself. Letting another boy slip away from this earth while knowing the truth, it was not an option. This was my chance to redeem myself.
Jasper’s mother was pacing out in the hallway in disbelief of what had happened to her son. Attempting to grab her attention to catch her husband in the act of admittance, I simply knocked a cup of hazelnut coffee over that was lying on the table next to his bedside. She came rushing in to the room due to the sound effect that it made, for she feared for Jasper. “I could not help myself. He would not clean up his toys, and… and my anger got the best of me.” Those were the first words that Jasper’s mother heard as she entered the room. Throwing the phone down, his father began to express that it is not what it seems. Her eyes widened and filled with tears as she backed away in disbelief. She said nothing, yet her expressions said everything.
Dashing out of the room in guilt, Jasper’s father ran in to the Security Guards as his mother was sprinting after him in an effort capture him and prevent his escape. Asthma got the best of her, and wheezing was exerted as the Guards were dragging him away in handcuffs. He began to plead and inquire why he was being put under arrest, but little did he know of the phone call to 9-1-1 that Jasper’s mother placed as she was sprinting after him.
I could not help but hear Maxwell’s voice as Jasper opened his soft blue eyes to his mother a few hours later. “Sissy Sweetie, Sissy Sweetie. Come with me, and we can fly to where my new home is.” That line was set on repeat in my mind. “Even though Maxwell could not be saved, maybe, just maybe, life has a set path for me rather than just suffering through cancer.” I thought to myself. The peace that I was searching for had finally arrived, and it was as if my fate had now been determined.
Swiftly making my way back to my hospital room, my eyes stared to blank space. Remorse soon overcame me and I thought to myself, “How could I have been so selfish? My family, friends, and those whose life I had made an impact on would be altered if I chose my initial desire.” Pondering in to the eerie room, my eyes were glued to my insensible body. Illusions of Maxwell and Jasper were surrounding me, grasping my icy hands. Jasper’s face was a face of survival; I was his hero.
Observing my physique was the toughest pain to endure. My head was hairless, bruses covered my body, and my lips still remained the purplish color which made it look like death had already snatched me away before my fate was determined. I sat there, pondering over my lifeless body for hours. Examining my family’s reaction to me slowly drifting away from life added to the realization of how precious life really is. Jasper had awaken and made his way at a snail’s pace due to his condition down to my hospital room. Tears were streaming down his face as he stood in disbelief at my body. Even though my concrete body did not save him, he knew that it was my spirit that saved his life. While he was in his coma, he saw every minute detail.
He walked over and grasped my moist hand, yet this time I could actually feel his touch. Unlike anyone else’s hand who grasped mine, his made an imprint. God had a bigger plan for me than just to have cancer slowly kill me at such a young age. Closing my eyes, the aroma of the fresh picked lilies consumed my senses. There was no turning back now. The imprint that I had made on Jasper’s life was everlasting. His young, whimpering voice whispered in to my ear, “I saw everything. You saved my life. Now how about you save yours.” His hand slowly let go of mine as he dragged himself out of my room with his mother. It was almost as if what had been keeping me alive vanished. My sole life support was leisurely exiting me.
My eyes soon closed as my spirit body began to feel faint. A loud, consistent beep consumed the room as doctors, nurses, and family members began rushing in. My spirit slowly fell back in to my body as the room began to turn a pitch black. Lying there, I could see the doctors trying to save my life. My family was speaking in words of desperation; “Keep fighting, Charlotte! We can’t endure life without you. Save my baby girl, Doctor. Save her!” A light touch of a hand lay on my shoulder as Jasper’s image appeared in front of me. This was the moment. This was the moment in which my fate was in my own hands. Images of each person fighting for their lives in each corner of the hospital flew across my mind, Jasper’s face when he saw my lifeless body would not be removed, and Maxwell’s expressions were the deciding factor. “How could I possibly leave this Earth without giving it one last fight? What if there is a child out there who is just waiting for me to save them as well. That is God’s plan for me. Not death!” I convinced myself. The desire to survive took control of my body, and a desperate gasp of air was exerted. The beeps then suddenly returned to their steady pace.
My family rushed over to me in frantic relief as my crusted eyes opened to the sight of life. All I could hear were words being jumbled together as everyone was speaking at once to me. Jasper was in the corner as I reached my hand out for him to come over. His innocent, chocolate eyes filled up with tears as he was dragging himself toward my bed; almost in a fear of disbelief of my verdict. As his minute hand touched mine, his eyes looked up to my head. His eyes illuminated as if they were smiling back at me. With satisfaction, he grabbed my frail hand to reach up to my head. My mouth dropped as I held my hand there for minutes while staring in to the mirror directly in front of me. I could not only feel, but see the stubble; a part of me being brought back to life.
As I laid there with Jasper and my family surrounding me, my mind blocked out all of the joyous commotion. Knowing what all had happened, I thought to myself “God put Maxwell in my life for a reason. To have the ambition to save a life, as I saved my own in the process. My disease was not karma for what had happened to Maxwell; it was the obstacle that aided me in giving me another chance to save a young life. To know the value of life. To keep fighting for what God had planned for me.” I was finally where he had intended me to be at the end of the winding road.
The peace that I was searching for had arrived, and my fate had now been determined; all due to the purposeful presence of two youthful youngesters.