“See those flowers?” I turn my face away from Isaiah, “When the water runs out, they'll die right along with me.”
Lying in the hospital bed, I push away the tears tugging at the corners of my eyes. It was only yesterday that I had been playing in the waves at the beach. Today, here I was, waiting to die. At two in the morning I had awoken, unable to move. At 5 AM, the doctor announced to my parents that I would die of a terminal illness attacking my nervous and muscular system. I had at most a week to live, slowly becoming paralyzed a little more each day. I had at most a week to live.
I had known Isaiah since we both were five years old. He had moved into the house next to us, constantly teased by everyone for his incurable speech impediment. It was a month later when I first spoke to him after a particularly bad day of teasing. When I asked him what was wrong however, he told me he was sad because his flower was dying. I had told him, “Everything dies, but always let it have water so that it can enjoy living.”
Now, I lay in the bed with him by my side, staring at the pale orange tulips sitting by my bed. Now, I could see that my first grade philosophy contained no truth. No living thing could enjoy life if it dreaded dying every moment. Slowly, with a great struggle, I crane my neck to peer over at Isaiah. The tears glistening in his eyes could only be seen through the thick lens' of the wire glasses he wore. Shaking his head, I watched as his blond curls were jostled about on his forehead, “Tina, you're NOT going to die!”
“Yes I am, the doctor said so.”
Isaiah shakes his head again. I try to smile. Isaiah, if anyone could come up with a cure for whatever I had, it would be him. Receiving high honors every year during freshmen, sophomore, and junior years and acing every test, Isaiah was by far the smartest kid in the school.
He was a sharp contrast to me, the girl who has skipped school, was forced to stay after every single day, and was suspended the maximum number of times the school would allow. Still, he had stayed by me. Almost every night he would come over for lengthy tutoring sessions, bringing my favorite gummy bears to motivate me; and whenever I was suspended he would rebuke me harshly. Now, he would leave like the rest. Georgia, my best friend since 2nd grade had already left, she had told me that she couldn't bear to see me like this. Sure enough, with an exasperated sigh, Isaiah spun on his heel and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him. I was left to die, alone, without even one of my friends surrounding me.
I was wrong, at 11 AM the next morning, Isaiah burst into my room, startling my dad out of his chair. Throughout the next week, he visited before and after school every day, equipped with numerous gadgets and different pastimes. He would read to me, play (or try to play) his guitar, watch movies with me, and even bring in schoolwork that I had missed. He was my only friend during that week of waiting for death to come. My other friends called, but none of them dared to set foot in that stark white hospital room. That Saturday, my final breath never came. The funny thing was, those flowers didn't die, they didn't even begin to wilt. The water continued to stay at the same level as well.
Week two was even worse as I permanently lost all feeling and movement in my arms. Isaiah's visits grew even more lengthy and entertaining. Since I was unable to move, he took responsibility of painting my nails and doing my hair. Through tutorials on YouTube, he learned to French braid better than I ever could have. Isaiah was gracious enough to provide me with audio books to pass the time while he was at school. Still, throughout that week, the flowers still didn't wilt. The water never went down, not one inch.
During week three, I lost complete feeling and movement from my shoulders down. I began to find it difficult to move my neck and control how I moved my mouth. It hurt to breath, my diaphragm muscles were failing, as were the muscles in my heart. Again, the doctor told me that this was my last week to live and that he was amazed that I had lived this long. Isaiah kept coming every day, both morning and night. The flowers didn't die or wilt. Neither did the water subside.
The fourth week was my last, I could feel it. However, I continued to try and prove them wrong. Those flowers hadn't died yet, so neither could I. Isaiah continued to come, even when I couldn't move my mouth anymore to talk to him. None of my muscles to move my limbs or facial features worked anymore, except for my ability to move my eyebrows up and down. Isaiah read my favorite books to me, skipping more school than I ever dared in a month. He brushed my hair, watched movies with me, and read my mother's Bible to me.
However, the bliss of our friendship couldn't last forever, I was dying. It was on Friday night that I noticed that the flowers had begun to wilt, the edges of their pale orange petals beginning to turn brown. They were dying along with me. My head was positioned to stare at them when I heard the door slide open as familiar footsteps neared, Isaiah's gentle, soft hands slowly turned my head to face him. Inside, I smile as his face comes into view.
“Tina, you're getting tired of living, huh?”
I can't speak or nod. However, my tears tell the tale. Wiping away my tears with his finger, Isaiah smiles softly.
“I couldn't let you die before I had made up for that one month that I didn't speak to you when I first moved here.”
More tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. Isaiah wipes them away again, leaving his own tears unattended, glistening on his cheeks like twinkling diamonds.
“Every day-” He sucks in a deep breath and releases a long sigh in an attempt to stifle the sobs that threaten to overtake his body, “every day I filled up the water for the flowers and every other day I replaced them so that you wouldn't give up.”
I notice that Isaiah tightly clutched my right hand in his own. I hadn't felt it. Throughout my freshman, sophomore, and junior years in high school Isaiah had stuck by me as my heart had been broken by countless boyfriends. The entire time I had simply been searching for security and worth. Little had I known that, through all of my 'boyfriends', the best friend I would ever have was standing right beside me. I watched as Isaiah withdrew the flowers from the vase and approached the side of the bed. With painstaking care, he folded the flowers in my hands.
The tears fell from his eyes faster than he could brush them away as he stared deep into my eyes. In a silent voice, made almost incoherent by the sobs racking his body, he whispers, “Long ago, a little girl told me that everything dies, but you should always give it water so that it can enjoy living.”