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I never understood why the world worked the way it did. I never had any reason to. Everything always worked out well for me, even if I made a mistake, it always seemed ok after a while. Then came Dooms Day, that’s what I called it anyway. I called it Dooms Days because that was the day when my love life went off the deep end.
It started out as the perfect day. I spent the night before worrying my butt off over a test in Algebra. Jake told me I was crazy for being a worry wart, but I couldn’t help it. It was this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t shake off. I got that feeling a lot, and sometimes it was over the simplest things. It was easy for Jake to call me crazy since he hardly ever worried, ever. Even when he was failing three subjects and was close to not graduating, he didn’t worry. All he did was rub it off saying that he’d just keep trying. I remember scolding him for weeks about it. He ended up passing with a C average.
I was a senior and he was a struggling sophomore in college. At the time of Dooms Day we had been dating for a year and a half. We’ve told each other ‘I love you’ a thousand times and he’s already imagined to me about when we get married and start having a family. I always would go along with it and fall in love with the idea of marrying the guy I love and having the perfect family with him, but life doesn’t always work like that.
I texted him after my Algebra test and told him that it just flew by and it was a piece of cake. He sent me back with a smiley face and asked if we could go out and celebrate. I told him I could and returned him the smiley face. I wish I could’ve seen that smile of his. That goofy grin and his embrace telling me he was proud of me.
I could barely concentrate the rest of the day. I kept thinking about Justin and about our date that night. When the time came, he picked me up in his blue run down truck.
“You look beautiful as always,” he told me and kissed me. I kissed him back and didn’t want to stop. I would’ve been fine kissing him all night on my porch, but Justin released his embrace. “Shouldn’t we get going? We kinda have a date, remember?”
“Oh yeah, I was wondering why you came over,” I said jokingly.
Jake grinned. “Cute, now get in the car.”
He opened to door for me and I climbed in. We ended up going to the park by the little pond that I used to go to with my parents and throw crackers at the ducks. He already had a little picnic set up for us. We sat on a blue checkered blanket by the edge of the pond and ate chicken sandwiches and chocolate covered strawberries.
“This is so good,” I exclaimed.
“Thanks, my mom made it,” he said quickly.
“She just fixed this on random?”
“No, I texted her saying I wouldn’t be home tonight, but out with you, and she got excited.”
“I love your mom.”
“Of course you do, she’s an amazing cook.”
“No, not just that, she’s, well, your mom, I can’t really explain it.”
Justin laughed. He leaned closer to me, and kissed me.
“I love you,” Jake breathed and kissed me again.
“I love you,” I said and I meant it.
My mom woke me up in the middle of the night in a panic. She had her cell phone clung to her ear and she was rumbling rapidly.
“Yes, Monica, I’ll take her down with me as soon as we can. I’m so sorry,” my mom sobbed and hung up.
“What is it, Mom?” I asked drowsily. I glanced at my electric blue alarm clock. It was 3:47 AM. What was going on?
“It’s Jake. He was in a car accident. A drunk driver rear ended him and he ran into a ditch. He’s not doing good. He’s in surgery now. Hurry up and get some clothes on and I’ll take you to the hospital,” Mom explained.
I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream, it had to be. Worry was washing over me and tears starting flooding my eyes and dripping down my cheeks. I did what my mom told me and put on an old t-shirt and sweats.
The drive to the hospital was torturous. It was dead silent the whole way and I couldn’t stop crying. I mean I couldn’t stop. I didn’t even know I could cry so much. I never have before.
He was on the third floor, wait, he wasn’t. Jake was still in surgery, but his parents were on the third floor waiting room. His mom embraced me the second she saw me. Jake’s mom was a plump lady with light blond hair and big brown eyes. When she finished squeezing me I tried my hardest to smile at her, to tell her that everything was going to be alright, but I found it was hard to do. How can you tell someone that everything’s going to be ok when you aren’t 100% sure? I didn’t even know how he was and what condition he was in.
“How is he?” Mom asked.
“I don’t know. They keep trying to explain to me how he is, but I don’t know any medical terms. I can’t understand what they’re saying.”
“Is he going to live?” I dared myself to ask. I had to ask, but I didn’t know if that would push it. Who knows? Maybe his mom would start crying all over the place, which would make me cry harder than I was at that moment.
She didn’t break down, didn’t even tear up, but it all showed in her voice. It was soft and hoarse. “They don’t know, sweetie. They’re doing their best to save him, but it’s not good.”
“Have you tried to contact his father?” my mom asked.
Jake’s dad left when he was four. Every few years he would send a birthday present, but that’s the only contact they had with him.
His mom sighed. “No, I don’t see why he would care. Plus, who knows where he is? For all we know he could be halfway across the world in Asia.”
They guided me to a chair in the corner of the waiting room. I know they try to design these chairs to be comfortable, but they just made me stiff, and whenever I would try to slouch it would just hurt my back.
The wait was endless. Finally, a man with slicked back, black hair came out to talk to us. “Hello, I’m Jake’s doctor. The surgery went fine. We have him stabilized in a room down the hall.”
“How’s he going to be?” his mom asked.
The doctor grimaced. “I’m not sure. At the moment, he’s fine, but we aren’t sure how long it will last. We’re still looking to see what else we can do.”
“How bad is it?” my mom asked.
“Not too well, he’s got some broken bones, quite a bit of cuts and bruises, and a few severe internal injuries.”
“Is he going to live?” I asked.
My mom and Jake’s mom stared at me, like I just entered the room.
“I don’t know. I wish I could tell you, but I can’t at the moment. I’m sorry.”
That’s all he had to say. All those times of telling him I loved him, and talking about our future, it hit me like when you get hit in the face with a snowball when you’re little; an uncontrollable pain that won’t stop. We won’t have a future, not the one that we planned. He could die.
I stayed in his room all day. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. It was the late afternoon when he slowly woke up. I rushed to his side and held his bandaged hand.
“Hey,” I whispered.
“Hey, where’s my mom?”
His voice was rough, it wasn’t even his voice. I wanted to start crying again, but I held it back.
“She and my mom went to get some coffee. They’ll be back soon. They’re going to be so thrilled to see that you’re going to be okay,” I said stroking his hair.
“I’m not going to be okay,” Jake said like a little kid that was in a bad mood. He was pouting.
“Oh, don’t say that. Before you know it, you going to be good as knew,” I tried to convince him, but I knew I wasn’t sounding that convincing.
“No I’m not. Can’t you see? I’m either dead or as good as dead. Just leave.”
“What?” I asked in disbelief.
“You heard me. Leave and don’t come back.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Alexis, please, I beg you. Even if I live, I won’t be like I was. I can’t let you live a life like that, loving a man like that.”
“Well, I wasn’t asking for your permission. I’ll love you no matter what condition you’re in. Even if you’re crippled and in a wheelchair, I’ll love you and marry you; I’ll love you no matter what.”
“Stop saying that. Just go and don’t look back,” Jake snapped.
I started power walking to the door, but was stopped by his voice. For the slightest second I heard him, I could hear the tiniest sliver of his voice. I turned around to not see the cut up Jake that was lying on that hospital bed, but the Jake I knew and loved. The boy who never worried about grades or how you looked, but about people; that boy was lying on the hospital bed and managed that goofy grin that only Jake could look hot doing. His last words were the three little words every girl wishes to hear.
“I love you.”
I decided to return those three little words, as if returning all the love I’ve ever felt for him.
“I love you.”
Jake died the next day. I think I cried nonstop for two weeks. I went to his funeral. I even spoke at the funeral. Most people talked about their favorite memories of Jake, but I spoke about what I felt for him. I couldn’t talk about on paper, but for some strange reason it all poured out in front of everybody. I don’t even remember what I said, but I remember how everyone complimented on my speech afterwards. I just wanted to go home, but nobody would stop talking to me. I mean, they could not shut up.
Most people remember Jake Meshlow by a favorite memory, but I remember him by our feeling for each other. Many people are filled with regret by saying they never got to say how much they cared for the person they loved, but I did. The last words I said to Jake were ‘I love you.’ You can be mad at the world for so many reasons, but the one thing you can be thankful for is love and being able to love. I’m thankful to have loved Jake Meshlow as much as I did, and I regret nothing.