This Is It

May 23, 2010
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I sat in the hospital room, the blank, white walls staring at me, mocking me. Blaming me. His family had been in and out, wanting to see him but not wanting to disturb me. I thought I might go crazy if any of them tried to start a conversation. What was there to say?

It was my best friend in the bed.

With never-ending silent tears rolling from my eyes, my hand firmly clasped his. I sat in an binding cloud of pain, making no noise. The incessant beeping of his heart monitor was the only sound in the room, a sound that would normally make me want to pull my hair out. But today, I loved that sound. I loved that sound with everything in me, and I begged it to continue beeping. It was the only sign I had that he was still alive besides the slow rise and fall of his chest. Carefully, so gently I hardly touched him, I smoothed back his messy hair and kissed his forehead. A few tears fell onto his face, and for just a second, I thought something in my life might happen in a beautiful way, I thought it could be like a movie; one of my glistening tears would fall in slow motion onto his cheek and his beautiful chocolaty eyes would miraculously slide open.

But this isn’t a movie. This is my real life. He did not wake up.

I slowly sat myself back down, ignoring the swelling of my ankles and ache in my lower back. My left hand was still entwined with Jake’s, the most natural place for his hand to be if it wasn’t around my waist or tangled in my hair.

It was my fault. He had been in this accident because of me. He has done nothing but take care of me and understand me and love me, and I’m killing him.

I try to get the water streaming from my eyes under control and I focus my attention to Nick, using all of my drive to will him awake. “Please wake up,” I whisper softly, because that’s the loudest my voice will go. My voice cracks.
“Please. I – I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to be without you.”

He doesn’t move. The machines beeps the same beat. His chest rises and falls at the same pace.

Nothing changes.

I feel a kick, and look down at my bump. I stare at him lovingly for a moment and start cooing the first song that pops into my mind to comfort him. “Don’t worry, little guy. This is it, here I stand, I’m the light of the world, I feel grand. Got this love I can feel, and I know, yes for sure, it is real.” He’s kicking more now, squirming happily at the sound of my voice. I almost crack a smile and bring my gaze to Jake. “And it feels as though I’ve seen your face a thousand times, and you said you really know me too yourself, and I know that you have got addicted with your eyes, But you say you gonna live it for yourself –“ The door opens and my coos stop, slowing the kicking and the small bud of hope growing in my heart. The nurse walks in and it almost kills me to go of Jake’s hand, but I manage to get up and stand by the wall, not wanting to disturb the him while checks Jake’s vitals.

I watch his face for any sign, any flicker of hope or dismay, anything that will tell me what’s going to happen to my best friend, my everything. But I see nothing. His worn face is detached, and I can’t read it. My hormones are raging and I haven’t slept in thiry-six hours and I’m a mess and I start to get angry; I want to yell at him, I want to rip those blue scrubs off of him and strangle him with them. I want to take the whirring machines and smash them over his head. Why hasn’t he fixed Jake yet? How can he act like he cares so little? Can’t he at least pretend to give a damn about the only thing I have left? I might be able to keep a hold on my last piece of sanity if I felt like he truly cared about the beautiful man in the bed in front of me. The beautiful man that’s got cuts across his perfect face and a cast on his muscular arm. It’s his throwing arm. If we ever get out of this, he’ll never be able to pitch the same again. My heart throbs. Maybe if the nurse cared more, Jake would be out of here and in my arms, and his arm would heal and he would go back to pitching no-hitters and winning state championships for our school.

I quickly shove these thoughts out of my mind. The nurse is doing all he can, I know that. I set a hand on my stomach for comfort, and the tears fall again. I cover my face.

When I look up again, I open my mouth to ask the nurse how Jake is, but he’s already left. I let out a shaky breath as I move to sit back down, despairingly glancing at the clock on the wall; was it really four-twenty-seven in the morning? When was the last time I’d eaten? Everyone else left five hours ago. Jake’s mother tried to get me to leave with them, but I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. How could I leave him alone? How could I have let this happen at all?

I sit down in the same uncomfortable yellow chair. With all the love in my exhausted body, I press my lips to his cheek.

He still doesn’t move.

I wish that things had been different. I wish he hadn’t gotten in that car and I hadn’t asked for ice cream and that drunk driver hadn’t run that red light. I wish Jake had had his seatbelt on. But in his rush to get me what I wanted, he hadn’t put it on.

It was my fault.

It was all my fault.

I knew it, Jake knew it, and everyone else knew it too.

I had been doing nothing but making his life harder for months, and he never did anything but love me.

My eyes were drooping and my entire body ached. I carefully laid myself next to him in the small bed and set his hand on my stomach, hoping that maybe some magic would happen, he would feel his little boy kicking away in my stomach and he would wake himself up. I gently slid his other arm around my waist; it was silly, but I felt like nothing was wrong while his arms were around me. I felt special. Invincible.

I fell asleep with my head on his chest, and the dreams started immediately.

I had flashbacks of the night of our junior prom, my long, green dress, the twinkle in Jake’s eyes as I walked up to him. The same twinkle that night in the hotel suite when things had started going so fast, and we were having so much fun, and it all felt so good, the condom stopped mattering. And we didn’t put it on.

Then the dream started to change, and I was remembering three weeks later in his bathroom, my hand shaking as I held up the white stick. The pink plus sign. He was knocking on the door, he was asking me to let him in. I did. And he was so relaxed, he was so comforting. He smiled his crooked smile and pecked my lips. “We can handle this, baby. We can do this together.”

But even he wasn’t prepared for the Whites’ response. This was not okay for girls in the White family, they said. “Things like this don’t happen in the White family.”

And then they threw me out.

The dream quickly transformed to a nightmare. I remembered the numb hopelessness I’d been drowning in as I packed all my belongings into bags; all my books, my pictures, my CDs and DVDs, my clothes that wouldn’t fit in another few months anyway. All these things my family had been happy to purchase for me, their perfect little daughter. What about now? What about when I actually needed them to love me and care about me?

I remembered not being able to stop my voice from shaking as I called Jake and told him. I remembered the outrage and sympathy and protectiveness and love in his voice, remembered him saying he wished I would have let him come tell them with me. He said he was getting in his car and coming over and helping me pack my things. He said I was moving in with him and his family.

I dreamt about how wonderful his family had been, the room with the blue walls they said I could call mine. I dreamt about the nights when I would tiptoe into Jake’s room and wake him up with a kiss. I dreamt about the first doctor’s appointment and the first kicks and when we found out it was a boy. I dreamt about the future, about our
wedding, about raising our sure-to-be curly-headed little boy. I dreamt about Jake.

I jolted awake, shivering cold. The baby was kicking away at my stomach, mad because he was tired and hungry, and I hadn’t let him get any good sleep or given him a good meal in a day and a half. Sitting up groggily, I slid from the bed back to the chair, trying to shake the memories from the foremost of my mind.

I grabbed his large hand and held it with both of mine. I placed a soft kiss to it, and looked at his eyes.

I half expected them to be open, sparkling the way they did when he looked at me.

But they didn’t.

I bit down on my lip, and the tears came again.“I need you,” I whispered to him. “Don’t leave me.” An eerie moment of silence suffocated the room, and suddenly, the beeping on the machine flat-lined. I jumped up and and started screaming as a team of nurses and doctors come tearing into the room with a crash cart and the same nurse that had checked on him earlier grabbed my arm and told me to move back. I stood against the wall in horror.

I watched as they tried to revive him.

And as they failed.

I watched the color leave his body. I watched the whiteness take over. He matched the walls. The doctor looked at his watch.

“Time of death, seven-thirty-five a.m.”

I watched as they told his mom and dad. I watched as she broke down in his arms, and I watched him cry.

I watched his little brother try to pretend he wasn’t crying. I watched as his older brother sat down in the chair and stared straight ahead as his tears fell.

His funeral happened in slow motion. I felt frozen, stuck at one place in time, refusing to go forward and powerless to go back. I just sat there, and when it was my turn to speak, I only said three words.

“I love him.” I sat back down. Everyone that saw me gave sympathetic looks.

I didn’t want their looks.

I wanted my boyfriend back. I wanted my best friend back. I wanted the father of my child back. I wanted my Jake back.

That night I went into his room by myself. I looked at the Red Sox poster on his wall, his dirty clothes scattered around the floor, the trophies on top of his bookshelf, his collection of old records, and his unmade bed. The room was so normal, so lived in, and he had just slept in that bed three nights ago; was it really possible that he would never sleep there again? His cologne, his delicious, boy-smell cologne was still sitting on his dresser open, the top next to it. I walked over and picked it up, spritzing the air around me. I looked up into the mirror above the dresser, all too aware that the last person to look into it had been him. My black sweater stretched over my belly matched the black circles under my eyes which matched the matted black hair on my head. Something stuck in the corner of his mirror caught my eye and I leaned over to see what it was.

It was a picture. A picture of him and me at prom, me in my green dress with the gorgeous white corsage he had given me and him in his black tux. All I remembered about that tux was how many buttons there were, how hard I had to work to get it off of him. Our bodies were pressed together in a snug embrace, his arm wrapped around my waist, his hand tangled with mine just below the crazy waves I had worn in my hair that night. We were looking in different directions, smiling bright and laughing.

I reached up and touched his face. As my fingers touched the pictured, I noticed the black sharpie drawn on it, in the middle of us. I peered closer and saw that he had drawn a little person, a stick figure little boy standing between us. The perfect addition to our happy ending.

The smell, the mirror, the bed, the clothes, the picture; they overwhelmed me. I lost it. I felt my entire body give up, I felt our little boy kick and I brought him with me as I left. I stood and watched, holding my boy with me, as my body walked into the bathroom. I saw it open the cabinet and grab the nearly bottle of Percocet Jake still had from his knee surgery last year and empty it into its mouth.

After it stumbled back into the room, it grabbed a pair of his sweatpants and one of his t-shirts from the ground and pulled them on. They were, of course, much too big, but that didn’t matter now. It crawled into his big bed and curled up in a ball, resting its hands on its stomach.

I was gone before its head touched his soft pillow.

Jake stood in front of me. His face lit up as he looked down at the baby boy in my hands.

“Welcome home, baby,” he whispers, kisses my lips, and pulls us both into his arms, and we become invincible.

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