Among the Living.

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An icy shiver ran down my spine as I leaned my forehead against the cool window of my hospital room. The low hum of the hospital’s air-conditioner had become a familiar sound, and now lulled me into a trance, much like a lullaby which a mother sings to her child. A nurse, exhausted and irritable after a long and busy shift, bustled in the hallway, but this did not distract me from focusing my attention to the outside world. A park, positioned across the street from where I now sat, was filled with people enjoying this warm, humid summer evening. Unaware that I was watching them, young children played freely; their happy laughter was a sweet and welcome sound. I felt my lips twist into a smile, and in a moment of simple joy, I lifted my camera to my eye and snapped a photo of this scene. Confident in my ability, I did not even bother to check the photo to see if I had successfully caught the benevolent children. It would surely make a lovely picture to add to my album later.

The moment now captured, I moved my eyes to the rest of the park. I watched couples taking an evening stroll, joggers making their way through the twisting pathway that surrounded the park and nearby cluster of trees, and a white, speckled dog as it rested in the shade beneath a large bush. None of these things could be deemed as particularly interesting, so I dismissed them after a mere few moments. I continued to scan my eyes through out the area, and it was not until I noticed two teenage girls riding their bicycles did I hesitate. A sickening, heavy feeling suddenly filled my heart as I looked at them, and after a few seconds, I realized that this feeling was nothing other than jealousy. Jealousy so strong that I began to hate these girls I did not know. It was not their shiny, blonde hair that caused this; nor was it their delicate features or beautifully tanned skin. No, it was none of those that now caused me to now sink deeper in my chair, angry tears forming in my eyes. As I watched them ride, the wind blowing in their smiling faces, I envied their freedom. Freedom, the sweet ability to do and say what I wished; The ability to escape a cold, unfriendly hospital room that had become my home over the past two months. A lump began to form in my throat, and I smoothed out the fabric of the hospital gown on my lap. A year ago, that had been me in that park. I had spent everyday of my summer with my best friend, enjoying ourselves without a single worry in the world. Then, I had not seen, or perhaps not cared about, the hospital, which had loomed over me, nor did I understand the ominous meaning it would someday take in my life. Now, it seemed as though that worry I had not then possessed had become a constant companion, and the girl I had once known myself to be was gone, forever. They did not know—those girls I now wished I was more than anything—what it was like to be a patient. They did not know what it felt like to hear the word “cancer” emerge from your doctors lips, or to hold your mother as she cried when she heard the news, and they surely could not know how it felt to say goodbye to the only life you had ever known. They couldn’t, and even in this moment of anger and fiery jealousy, I hoped they never would.

A single tear ran down my flushed cheek. “Keep riding,” I whispered to them—my raspy voice quivering as I leaned once again against the window, “…Live”. That was the one thing I had grown to want more than anything, and the one thing I had taken for granted for so long. Just to live.





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