Julien and Tegan

March 11, 2009
Tegan awoke to a phone call. It was her parents. "What is it?" she asked in a sleepy daze. Her brother had been in a car accident, they weren't sure if he would make it. Tegan was too confused to make sense of the situation. Why would he be in a car wreck? She always thought of her little brother, Julien, as too young for anything. Even when he turned seventeen Tegan thought him too innocent to watch 'The Exorcist', or any other scary film. "It will give you nightmares!" Tegan would say.

Now her brother had nearly no chance of growing up in her mind. It seems he will forever be that little boy to her, no matter how many football scholarships he had just won his senior year, or how many girls he dated over his high school career.

In the hospital the doctors gave Tegan and her parents the bad news. He'd probably not live through the night. However, the doctors couldn't be more wrong. Julien would live through the night, the week, the year. He'd live for another twenty years with his sister visiting him usually about four times a week. Just to sit with him and watch TV, or Tegan would play solitaire alone, or read to Julien. The coma had a strong hold on him, but Julien always showed some brain activity. Not the activity of vegetables, echoes of intelligence lost in a brain of mush; but the brain activity of a poet writing a sonnet, or a musician writing a song. It was the most remarkable thing the doctors would say, it was like nothing they had ever seen, he had the most active brain of any coma patient in years.

Tegan spent her time studying her brother with a team she had put together while working through medical school. Tegan's brother had been her motivation through school. Before the accident she studied to become a teacher, but she now felt that her brain should be put to work on waking her brother. After years of working on a way to reanimate her brother Tegan and her team came up with the deep brain stimulus, small device that would send small pulsing signals through Julien's brain. This was their last shot at awakening him from his coma. Julien went under his sister's knife for a full ten hours. The surgery was extremely fatiguing. Tegan was asked several times by her colleagues to take a rest, but she couldn't. She couldn't just step back and watch another doctor work on her only family left. After twenty years her aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and cousins had all either moved away or died. Julien all she had left.

The surgery went off without a hitch. Everything went perfectly. The deep brain stimulus was activated and all the doctors could do now was hope that Julien would finally wake up. About a week went by when one day Julien opened his eyes. He moved them about the room. His face gaunt and his arms like twigs, Julien tried to move his neck, but the pain was excruciating. He let out the faintest whimper, "nurse." No one came. No one could imagine him actually waking up. Julien attempted to roll over, but could only wobble his body back and forth. After about an hour of trying to reanimate himself Julien was able to move his tongue, jaw and grip his fingers. The nurse walked in carrying a tray with a container of water and a sponge on top for Julien's sponge bath. She made eye contact with Julien and dropped it. She screamed for a doctor. "He's awake!"

Tegan rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard. She burst into the room to finally see her brother awake again. However, as soon as she entered the room she couldn't see the same brother she had known all her life, in his bed lied a man who had been through more than she could imagine. In the same way Julien couldn't recognize his sister. Of course instantly he knew who she was when she entered the room, but she wasn't the same person he had remembered. He could see behind her eyes that she had thought she lost everything by betting it all on his own survival. She had no men in her life, she had no pets and she had no family. But now they were no longer alone.

Julien spent months and months in physical therapy, the doctors believed that Julien would never walk again, they believed a lot of things would never happen again. After just two months Julien took his first steps in twenty years. The more remarkable advances were on his emotional and mental side. He was coping very well with his loss of nearly everything he had ever known. A lot changes in just twenty years. For some parts of his coma Julien had been in a state that was similar to a very light sleep. He recalled many days where his sister came to visit, those were the days he was most interested in telling about, although he did remember quite a few historically significant events, none seemed as tantamount as the days his sister sat by his side playing solitaire.

Many of his doctors insisted that Julien take antidepressants as they were sure the shock of waking up from a twenty year coma would throw him into a deep depression, but Julien refused. He didn't feel depressed, of course at times he felt sad, but he was also very glad just to be alive and able to spend time with his sister. Tegan was shocked by his awakening, she had always known deep down that one day he would, but she never realized he would wake up a man. A very wise man at that. By spending all of his time basically alone, Julien had composed beautiful poems that he memorized in his mind as he had no way of writing them down. He had time to really contemplate what mattered to him. Julien saw the shallowness in chasing women and how ridiculous his fixation with material things was before.

Through very different means his sister came to similar conclusions. To her the only thing that mattered was bringing her brother back to life. Before their deaths her parents had given up on reviving Julien, they moved to Florida to enjoy their last years in a summer sun bliss. Julien and Tegan admired each other. They saw in each other what they couldn't see in themselves and they couldn't stop thinking about it. They were addicts getting high off each other's determination and tales of accomplishments. Julien's accomplishments were more cerebral, but just as important as Tegan's and she could really see that.

One day in February they sat talking at the appartment Tegan had rented for Julien as he tried his best to write an autobiographical novel on his coma. She could see that it would not only be a best seller for its unique premise, but it would be a classic as her brother was an incredibly gifted writer. "I realize that you don't have many other people in your life, Julien, so I'd like to take you out for dinner on Valentine's day. Unless, of course, you've made plans with someone else." Tegan suggested the date out of pity for her brother, but she also hoped that he would accept, the date was as much for her as it was for him.

"I'd love to. I have no plans, you're the only one I need right now. To be honest I haven't been out trying to make many friends." They laughed together at the idea of it being easy for him to make friends. After all it would be pretty hard to relate to people when you have basically missed everything in the past twenty years. Around two in the morning that night, after they'd exhausted themselves talking about almost anything and everything Tegan drove herself home. They were happy as clams, and no one could understand why. They both had such hard, some would say miserable, lives.

On Valentine's day Tegan and Julien went to the nicest restaurant in town. Tegan spared no expense that night. The staff at the restaurant assumed that they were on a date for the holiday. They never corrected anyone. On many levels they were quite entertained by the idea. The two started off the night with a couple glasses of wine and a five course dinner. At the third course the string quartet began to play for their table, they barely took notice, they were too entertained by each other.

Julien leaned in to kiss Tegan, she didn't pull away. In fact they shared a passionate kiss that made the band stutterand then Tegan did pulled away. Their eyes met and said more than their mouths could. Both knew that they loved each other, but were willing to leave it at that. They finished dinner and Tegan took Julien back to his house where he worked on the rest of his novel. Tegan made it back to her house where she spent the night alone. They each knew how the other felt, and for now that was enough.

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