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I felt her cool hand on my face.
My best friend. The girl that had been there for me through it all. My weak days, my happy days. The cutting. The pain. I opened my eyes and tried on a forced smile.
Her green eyes looked unconvinced, but she smiled back at me.
"Looking better, babe." She grinned.
"Thanks. I feel better."
This was a lie. I felt worse and worse every day. The doctors said that if I didn't regain feeling in my legs soon, then there was no hope.
She came and sat beside me, on the hard hospital chair.
"You're going to get better, Kelly. I know it's hard. Think about all the other difficult things you've done. Soccer, softball, graduating at the top of our class."
I rolled my eyes sarcastically.
"Right. All of those things I did before I became useless."
I graduated #1 in my class of about 1,000 students. I received a full softball scholarship to my choice college. I was living the good life, I never partied, had no boy toys, and had perfect grades.
My friends had convinced me to go to this costume party.
'It'll be fun, c'mon. You don't have to drink,' they had said.
So I went.
I didn't drink, I stayed sober the entire night. I had no fun and decided to go home early.
I got in my truck and less than 15 minutes from my house, I was hit by a drunk driver from that very same party.
He was fine. Walked away happily as could be.
So far, I've had 3 surgeries.
This happened two weeks ago.
The doctors are convinced that I may never walk again.
I put my hand on Kelly's face. She was so peaceful while sleeping, unlike when she was awake. She just knew that she was never going to walk again.
She's my best friend. She got me through depression, anorexia, my parents divorcing.
Why couldn't she just believe?
She believed when she was practicing five hours a day and taking all AP classes. She believed that when I moved away for those three years, our relationship would stay the same.
She refused to give up on me, no matter what, yet she gave up on herself so easily.
She cracked an eye.
"Why don't I call a nurse for your meds? You're doing that thing again."
She would stop breathing in her sleep, a side effect of the punctured lung she had due to the crash. The 'medicine' was a breathing tube.
"I'm calling anyway."
I pushed a button and in a few seconds a nurse was in the room.
I asked her to hook up the machine.
Kelly looked so steamed.
"Jill, I think you should leave." She said coldly.
Ouch. That stung. I wasn't going to fight with her, though. Not today.
"K. Bye, love you!"
She never looked up.
I went home and didn't really take her booting me out personally. She was terrified and angry and sad all at the same time.
I really shouldn't have made Jill leave, but I hated to see her all bright-eyed and optimistic. I know that I was being a bit childish, but I was paralyzed. No only from the broken spine, but from fear.
No more softball. No more soccer. Volleyball, track. It was all over.
I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
I was angry at the nurse for putting the tube in. Couldn't anyone see that I didn't want to be 'helped?' I wanted to die. What's life without sports? What life when I can't move anything below my waist? I'll never have kids, I'll never become a doctor, I'll never be anything.
I was home, making waffles in the microwave when I got the call.
Kelly had taken a turn for the worse. She had stopped breathing for a while before someone had caught it. She almost didn't wake up. I sped to the hospital faster than I probably should have, praying the whole way.
'Lord, please be with Kelly right now, I can't deal with the thought of losing my other half."
I don't even know all of the things I asked God for that day. I just wanted for Kelly to get better.
When I got to the hospital, I stopped outside her door. I took a steadying breath, so that I would appear calm. (hopefully)
I opened the door and walked slowly inside. My beautiful Kelly was lying on the bed, looking fragile. She was so still, deathly still. And too quiet. I blinked back tears and turned away.
Not her. She talked me down from suicide too many times. She was the only one who I told about the bulimia. I couldn't let my Kelly go.
Who was going to call me Jilly Bean?
Who would I talk to when there was no one else?
I walked over to the bed and stroked her fiery hair. Ginger, we called each other. Her freckles were a perfect match to her blue eyes and curly hair.
Her eyelids fluttered.
Her voice was weak. I almost cried. I swallowed hard and took another shaky breath.
"You look like cr**, Kells." I said lightly.
"Thanks. I've been better."
Her tone had changed from earlier in the day. It was like she didn't have the energy to be sarcastic.
"I'm sorry I ticked you off earlier." I tested the waters, seeing if she was still mad.
"No, I was being a jerk, you were right. And Jilly Bean, I love you too."
"I understand Kelly, I really get that it sucks. You have to be strong, and you can't give up."
That was the last time I ever talked to Kelly. She died in her fourth operation, to repair a brain hemorrhage. I never got to hear her clear, pretty voice singing along to her iPod again. Never got to see her looking in the mirror again, then turning to ask if she looks 'okay.' I had asked her to be strong, and when she was gone I fell apart. She had been so brave. The day she went into surgery, I was sure she would be fine, the doctors said it was simple. She would be fine. I couldn't believe it was over. I felt like my life was ending. I wanted to end it, actually, but I couldn't help thinking of her telling me, so gently, that I meant the world to someone, and that was worth living.
"Mommy, why are you crying?" my daughters big, blue eyes looked at me with concern.
I smiled at her. She looked so much like Kelly. The freckles, the hair, the eyes.
"Nothing, baby, I was just thinking of my old friend."
"The one you named me after?"
"Yes, little Kelly Faith, the one you were named after"
She smiled and hugged me close, just like my Kelly Bean used to.
I held her and cried.