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The Best Christmas I Never Wanted
When I awoke for the first time, all I could see was white, everywhere. All around me, engulfing me, like I was floating in a cloud. I sure felt like I was floating on a cloud. And though I tried, I couldn’t seem to move to look around me. Then I shut my eyes once more, let the darkness wash over me, and pull me under again.
The next time I woke up, it was because of my mother’s cool hand on my cheek, and her voice, a strained whisper, speaking frantically to someone else. I knew it was my mother because her hands are always slightly cold, and because she’s never talking as quietly as she thinks she is.
“But Doctor, will she ever be able to walk again?” She croaked hoarsely.
“Her legs should heal up in two or three months, because she’s so young. But she will still have to have extensive therapy to help her regain the ability to walk properly again.” I could tell this was the doctor speaking, because her voice was cool, steady and calm. Suddenly, as I thought over her words, the whole event came back to me in a rush, my muscles tensed in fright, and I gasped out loud without meaning to. I could still see the Grey SUV charging towards me, unapologetic and cruel. But the pain slowly ebbed away again as some pain killer kicked in, and again the weight of my eyelids overwhelmed me. The last words I heard, from my mother’s lips, were
“Oh Carolyn, what have you gotten yourself into? And right before Christmas, too.” Then, I drifted off in to unconciousness.
When I woke up again after what seemed like weeks, if not months, of sleep, the room was dark. I clutched at the white, white sheets frantically, unable to see anything but them. I hesitantly turned my head to the right, desperate to see, trying so hard to control my breathing. I am fine, I thought to myself. The worst is over.
“Hey, calm down over there kid. You’re driving me crazy with all of this noise. Can’t a person get some sleep around here?”* A voice called to me, from the direction I was looking. I blinked, who was that voice coming from, and where were they? Finally, I realized that there was a curtain surrounding me which was in the way, and I hurriedly pulled it back, squinting to see the person on the other side of the room. “Did you really just realize that?” The female voice laughed – ha ha ha. Her words seemed to come out slowly, almost breathy, and she seemed to be waiting for each word to come to her.
“You must be pretty bad to be here with me. What happened to you?”* She laughed again, but this time it was even more mechanical.
“I think I broke my legs, but I’m not sure. I know I got hit by a car. Why? What happened to you?” My voice seemed so soft and mellow compared to hers, and almost like a little kid’s.
“Me?” She took a moment to breathe, and all I could do was listen to the sound in curiosity. It didn’t sound the way a normal person’s breathing sounded. It was a shuddering breath, but a slow, deep breath. A breath someone takes as they spring out of the cold water of a pool, after they’ve pushed themselves and waited to break the surface for that breath.
Ever since those words she spoke, those words filled with such resignation and emotion, Anabelle and I have become something more than the best of friends. Something closer to sisters. Anabelle was my Christmas present when I couldn’t enjoy and of the presents my mother had bought for me before the accident. She kept me company through the whole day, while my family was home with visitors. We spent it laughing and joking, saying what we would do to the more bossy nurses if we could walk. And ever after, we’ve only grown closer and closer and closer, though never out of pity or anything of the sort. Though I am now able to walk, dance, run, sprint, leap, and do all of the things I used to, she is not, but she was there for me when I needed her. That is most important to me. And I will be there for her – whenever she needs me. She may lie there, in her little white-sheathed hospital bed for her life, or until someone finds a cure for paralysis. But I will be there by her side, speaking for her when she can’t.
It seemed that being hit by that grey SUV five years ago was a blessing in disguise, because it gave me the best friend I could ask for, and the best Christmas I had never wanted.
* In reality, people who are quadriplegic would not be able to say as much at one time.