Life flashes by, birds tweet and weather changes but I feel so obsolete. Nobody sees me, but I see them. I see their faces, alive and bright. I am here but nobody sees me, I am here but I am not.
I fight to move, I fight to feel, I fight to live but there is nothing. I am a shell with a hollow centre. I am nothing. I am here, but I am not. My eyes see all, my ears hear everything. My body craves the movement I had before. I see their pain, I see their love, but I fail to show mine. My body screams for a release, my mind screams to be heard and my heart aches for them. I see the pain of her, I see her hands as they caress my skin, the warmth of her touch shooting through my body like shocks of electric.
I want to call out to them, I want to shout her name. I want to tell her that I am here, I want to tell her not to cry for me. I can sense her pain and that makes me ache with love and sadness. My mind is swimming with endless thoughts of life, thoughts of love and memories of laughter and joy. All of it gone in a moment. I was happy, young and I loved my life. Before I was gone, before my life changed I took so many things for granted and adored material things. But now I see that there is only one thing a person can own and that’s love. To love and to be loved is a precious thing. Everyone craves it, everyone fights for it and most of us are lucky enough to have it.
I have tried to grasp where the point of change was, when I went from being alive to being here. Memories swim around my mind. The laughter I had with my friends and the excitement I felt when I finished school for half term. I remember seeing the boy I liked across the road and the vague memory of his shocked expression as I stepped out towards him. Following that came a mixed muddled mess of noise and images. The screams and crying came first, then the realization that I was lying on the floor looking up into the faces of people crowding me, followed shortly by ambulance crew. Everything happened too quickly, even now when I try to remember all of the details it feels like someone has their finger pressed down on the fast forward button. I tried to move, but they had me strapped down onto the board, which was eventually lifted up onto an ambulance. My eyes hurt when I looked up into the light.
Of all the things I remember the most, it’s the pain that sticks out in my mind. I couldn’t originate where the pain was from but I heard words of ‘head trauma’ and risk of internal bleeding thrown around as the vehicle I was in sped towards its destination, blue lights flashing and sounding out a piercing siren which made me feel pain in parts which I never knew existed. I tried to call out for my mom but i couldn’t find my voice and I could only taste the acrid metal blood which soaked the inside of my mouth. There was another voice in the vehicle, separate from the paramedics who were working to save my life. A voice I recognised was talking wildly, sobs separating her words as she spoke. At the time I couldn’t place it but having had time to go over these events over and over again, I now realize that it was my best friend, Zara. She held my hand, although I didn’t feel it at the time. She was talking about an accident and something about how the car had come out of nowhere but I was swiftly drifting into darkness as I realised that she was talking about what had happened to me.
The moment I closed my eyes was the moment I lost, I will forever wish that I fought harder to stay awake, that I used all of my inner strength to keep myself afloat long enough to survive. Since that moment I have been floating on a choppy wave, waiting for something but not knowing what it is. Monitors beep in the distance and signs of life wrap around me, containing me inside my own bubble, a world where only I exist. My eyelids are still closed. Since that ‘moment’ in the ambulance I haven’t opened them again. But I can still see, I can see more now than I could before. I see the love of those around me and hear their sorrow. My body feels nothing, but I ache inside, emotions and feelings weighing me down. I feel as though I am drowning, but there is no relief from my anguish. Time has gone by slowly, but I don’t know how long I have been lying here. Days, weeks, months, I have no way of tracing the time, but the time I wait seems endless, causing me to feel impatient and frustrated. It would feel good to scream, to put all of my energy into opening my mouth and letting the sound roll effortlessly from my lips, but my body is frozen and numb. I can only scream on the inside, but what is the point? It is silent and small and trapped as am I. Nobody can hear me, they can only see my lifeless body lay out before them. I see my mother as she paces around the hospital room. Her eyes are red from crying, lines of mascara tracing down her cheeks. She is clutching a small brown teddy bear, a stuffed toy that I slept with when I was a child and had always refused to throw out. The material on its body is torn and it has a small rip on its right ear from where I wrestled it from my younger brother. My mother hugs it tightly to her chest and her small shoulders rise and drop as her tears turn into sobs. My heart hurts and I try to look away but I feel myself drawn to her. The woman who gave me life, who blew raspberries on my belly when I was young, the woman who helped clean up my cuts and bruises and protected me from the monsters in my room, she was now having to consider a very difficult decision. The only option we have left. Dr. Thompson had spoken to my mother hours earlier whilst she had stood holding my hand, he had informed her of my brain damage and how my lack of blood supply to my brain following trauma had caused irreparable damage. He had stated that they had done all they could and that my body was being kept alive by machines. My mother clutched my hand, squeezing and kneading it as if she could somehow revive me. Great sobs broke from her lips and she fell forwards, putting her weight against my bed and resting heavily on me, begging me without words to open my eyes. The doctors words echoed through me, resonating around my body. It was at that moment that I accepted my fate peacefully. My life was no more but I needed to tell her to live and to go on living. Grief was inevitable after the death of a loved one but I wanted my mother to embrace it and live my life through her.
The room had brightened considerably once I accepted that I was moving on, but there was no sun coming in through the windows, there was only a small circle of light which had appeared on the opposite wall. It was bright and beautiful and bathed the area in so much light that I just wanted to touch it. Nobody else could see it, or if they could, then they weren’t taking much notice of it. There are four people in the room, including me. My mother stood near me, clutching my teddy to her. Behind her stood my stepfather, his hands clasped onto my mothers shoulders, his eyes low, searching the floor as though he’s looking for answers which he won’t find. We have always had a close relationship, my real father never played a part in my life and I never missed him as Alan made me feel like his daughter every single day. The pain in his eyes hits me in the chest and I long to hug him to me. On th opposite side of the bed is Dr. Thompson, his stance and straight face showing sympathy and patience towards my parents painfully hard decision. The responsibility lies solely with them and I will them with all of my being to let me go. Not just for me, but got them. I want them to live for me; I want them to go on and be happy and to remember me as I was, not how I am now. My stepfather squeezes my mother to him and nods in the direction of the doctor and mouths the words, ‘we’re ready’.
The light is slowly growing and the room takes on a white-washed look. It’s as if someone has turned up the brightness. The features of the people around me become more difficult to make out and, against the white light they’re forms appear like silhouettes. Dr. Thompson mutters a few words to my parents, but I don’t catch what he is saying. Condolences maybe? All I am focused on is that circle of light which is now big enough for me to crawl through. The tunnel it opens up is stunning to look at; there are a hundred different swirling colors, all of them bright and sparkling. The tunnel is long and as the hole gets bigger, I see that there is an end to it, there is life there.
The machines in my room stop beeping and the ventilator which has been pumping up and down rhythmically and endlessly now stops and stands silent. My mother looks down at me and holds onto my hand, tears trailing down her cheeks. Behind her, still holding her tightly is Alan, his face taut and struggling to control his emotions. His face is pinched in pain and he tries unsuccessfully to hold himself together, trying not to cry, but he cant control it and he swiftly covers his face with his hands and sheds tears for me, his little girl. Maybe we aren’t connected by blood, but I know he holds me in his heart as though I am.
I am suddenly aware that I am no longer lying down on the hospital bed, but I am standing up. My parents are next to me, both lost in their sadness, neither noticing that I am inches from them. Looking down at my body, I see what they see. Wires snake across my body, leading up to the now silent machines. My head is wrapped in bandages, pieces of my blonde hair streak across my damp skin. Purple circles are evident around my closed eyes. The colour of my skin appears grey and dull, even in the blinding whiteness of the room. Small is the word that comes to mind, I look small; lying tucked up in the clean white sheets that cover my final bed.
My gaze is drawn back towards the circle of light, which is now big enough for me to walk through. The end of the tunnel is easy to make out and I see beauty and happiness there. There are hundreds of people waiting there, smiling and waving; calling me to them. I see faces I recognise, great aunts whose funerals I attended when I was a kid, an uncle who died when he was my age and plenty more faces that I recognise from my childhood onwards and from photographs I had seen. The field they stand in is full of pretty flowers of all colours and my eyes pick out animals amongst the group who wait for me. Behind one of my great aunts I spy a dog I recognise, his brown familiar fur gently ruffling in the breeze. Everyone looks happy and everyone is smiling. There is no pain there; I know I will be safe forever. I see it, I hear it and I feel it. I breathe in the rich lavender scent, carried on a light breeze that blows my hair and cools my skin. I feel alive and ready for my new life.
I turn back, looking at my heartbroken parents, both of them lost in their grief, both unable to speak through their pain. Words can not describe how I am feeling. Happy and excited about my next chapter, but sad and angry about having to leave my old one behind so soon. I love my parents, I love my life but I know I cannot stay. Stepping back towards my parents, I feel deep sorrow for having to leave them behind. Maybe I can stay; maybe I don’t have to leave. I look back towards the tunnel and see my Grandma Poppy approaching me. We hug each other tightly, both jubilant about seeing one another again and I know then that I will see them all again. My parents will live their lives and when the time comes, I will welcome them to their new home. My heart sings for that moment. Granny Poppy holds her hand out to me, eager to take me with her. With as much energy as I can muster, I walk back to my parents, wrap my arms around them, hold them tightly to me and whisper, ‘I love you.’ My breathe comes out like a breeze and blows my mothers fringe. She looks up and her eyes meet mine, I know she can see me, because she starts towards me. Holding out for my Granny’s hand, I walk towards the tunnel, breathing in the rich floral aroma.
I take one last glance at my mother. She is watching me leave, her arms clinging to my oblivious father. Smiling at her, tears steaming down my face, I raise my hand and wave at her. My mother smiles lightly, her face also wet from tears. As her words of love follow me down the long tunnel, I know that everything will be okay.
This isn’t the end for me, it is only the beginning.