If Your Life Depended on It
Forget Me NotI awoke in a hospital bed, surrounded by nurses bustling around my bed and the one next to me. Someone was holding my hand, but I wasn’t awake enough to register who. I blinked a few times to wake myself up, then I rolled my head to the left to see who was sitting with me. My mother sat in a chair, one hand on her phone, the other in mine. Typical mom, I thought. The poor woman never gets a break from work. She looked up and saw me watching her, then she looked back at her phone. She quickly put it away, as to show me that I had her full and undivided attention, which was good because I had just about a million questions.
“Now sweetie,” she began, “I know you want to know all about where Mason is, but it’s very important right now that you eat and try to gain your strength back.” I nodded reluctantly and swallowed my questions, waiting for her cue to ask them. A small, gentle-looking nurse walked in and when she saw that I was awake, she smiled.
“Oh good, you’re awake.” she said. She wrote some stuff down on her clipboard, probably recording my blood pressure, then she pulled up a chair on the other side of my bed.
“Alright Kylie, how do you feel?” she asked.
“I feel fine,” I answered honestly, “Just a little hungry, that’s all.”
“Well good, that means your improving. You were dehydrated when you got here, so we ran some tests and got you back up to standards. We can order you some food right now, or you and your mother can take a walk down to the cafeteria.” she offered. I definitely did not want to sit in this bed for one more minute, and I thought sleeping on the ground made my muscles stiff.
“I think a walk would be nice.” I answered.
“Alright, I’ll let them know you’re coming.” she said. With that she smiled and left our room. I started to get up from my bed, but the room started spinning. I laid back down and waited a minute before trying again. This time the room stayed still and I was on my feet. I stretched my arms, cracked my back, and touched my toes before I began to walk. It felt amazing to be free from that bed. I slowly made my way to the door with my mother close behind, of course. We made our way down the brightly light hallway, glancing to the side every now and then to sneak a peek into someone else’s life, whether it be the blessing of a new baby or the tragedy of a death. I tried not to look to long, for fear that they would catch my intrusion, so I moved my eyes to the doors that lay ahead at the end of the hallway.
When we opened the doors to the cafeteria, we really opened the doors to another world. Inside this world there was pain and suffering, longing and loneliness, sadness and depression. Many families sat at the long tables, their eyes glued to their food. One father was trying to calm his son down, for he was upset about his grandfather’s passing. At another table a young mother was suffering the diagnosis of cancer for one of her children. And at the end, there sat the one family that stood out from all the rest. They sat at a round table, nobody eating and nobody talking. They only looked at each other with concern, as if one of them was going to let their mask of indifference slide at any moment to show their true pain. I knew this family, and I knew their suffering. We both had almost lost the one person who brought joy to our lives, and that was Mason.
My mother and I walked over to the family, and as we walked I prepared myself for the questions I knew they would ask: What happened? Why did you let him climb those rocks? How could you not have a map? They had every right to know, as long as in return they gave me the update on Mason. When we got to their table, my mother sat down next to Mason’s mother and took her hand. One look at each other and they broke into tears, those masks of theirs dissolving away like chalk on pavement during a rain storm. I watched them hold and try to console one another, bearing not only their own pain but the pain of the woman they held. I could no longer stand to watch them in such distress, so I glanced at the face of Mason’s youngest sibling, Ava. She was only seven years old, and already she had to bear the weight of the world on her shoulders. She shouldn’t have to suffer such great pain and sadness, and neither should the rest of his family. I went and sat next to her, then I gently pulled her into my lap. She rested her head on my shoulder and she left a soft whimper escape her lips. I held her closer, trying to smother the pain she held deep within her, but I knew it was useless. She had almost lost her big brother, her protector, and there was nothing I could do to help. His younger brother Tyler came over be me, and I put my arm around him too. I held both of the children while their father was busy calling family members and telling them about Mason. I heard many gasps from the other line, and I watched his father nod his head sadly, always repeating the same thing. Each time he said that Mason had almost died, it looked as if he was being stabbed in the chest. He continued to wound himself, and the mothers cried in pain and despair. The children only made soft whimpers, but those seemed louder than words.
Finally a nurse came looking for the family, and Mason’s father raised his hand to call her over. She hurried over, a smile on her face. That smile seemed so out of place in such a painful environment. Mason’s mother looked up to see her approach, then she glanced in my direction. “Thank you” she whispered. I gave her a small smile and a slight nod of my head, then I turned to face the nurse.
“Well you guys,” she began, “Mason is doing well. He does not have any sign of infection, his wounds are healing, his bruises are beginning to fade, and his arm is healing as well. But he did have some bleeding in his head, and the doctor was able to take care of that. You should be very thankful to that young lady over there. She was able to give your son immediate medical attention and she did very well.” Mason’s family turned to face me, their faces slowly starting to brighten up at the news that he was doing good. I could feel my own face begin to smile, and my mother seemed content that I was feeling better, too. We all exchanged looks of relief before we turned back to the nurse.
“Mason is accepting visitors, but he really would like to see Kylie alone for a while, if that’s okay with the family,” she said. I looked at his parents, and they both nodded to me. His father pulled Ava into his lap, and Tyler went to sit with his mother. As I got up to leave, I felt my mother’s hand on my wrist. I turned to look at her, wondering what was on her mind.
“If this becomes too much for you, Kylie, make sure you come and find me,” she warned. I knew she wanted to protect me, and I was beyond grateful. I kissed her cheek then proceeded to follow the nurse back into the busy hallway.