I slowly gained consciousness from what seemed to be a deep slumber. Out of habit, I reached over to turn off what I thought was my alarm clock, but my nightstand was not there. So, out of the absence of my nightstand, my hand flopped to the side of my bed, which forcefully woke me up from my drowsy state. As I blinked my eyes open and looked upon my surroundings, it became clear to me that something about my room was different. There was a big window to my right that was never there before. The room was painted a very faint light blue on the walls as opposed to my purple wallpaper. My bed seemed smaller than usual. It came back to me: I was driving pretty fast and then a truck came by. I then came to realize that I was in the hospital.
I pushed myself up to form an upright sitting position on the bed. I felt like I haven’t used my limbs in forever. My vision was a little blurry so I had to squint to see the page-a-day calendar on the table on the other side of the room. It read April 18th, Saturday. I remembered that yesterday was Saturday the 17th, so I was very confused. I then looked over at the mirror to my left. I jumped at the sight of my reflection, or rather the sight of a completely different person. The strange woman who stared back at me looked somewhat familiar. It only took a second for me to realize that this woman was me.
While I studied my offbeat appearance, I noticed, at the corner of my eye, a woman who was peeking through the crack of the door. But, just as I tried to lock the center of my view on her, she dashed away. I started to freak out, causing me to hyperventilate. Soon a doctor entered the room. He gently placed his hand on my shoulder and told me to breathe. I continuously inhaled through my nose and then exhaled through my mouth. My “exhales” were kind of choppy though because my heart was beating uncontrollably fast. I recognized another person entering the room; it was my mom. I eventually calmed down after a few more inhales and exhales and then prepared myself for an explanation for all of this.
While the doctor did “doctor” things, my mom gave me the news. It turned out I was a part of a car accident. The car was practically burnt to a crisp as she described to me. She said that the other driver faced a few minor injuries; but I didn’t get out so easily. I suffered a pretty major head injury, so I was in a coma all this time.
“You’ve just been asleep for five years,” my mom explained to me, trying her best to make it not sound as bad as it did. As she looked at me worriedly, I looked back at her practically emotionless. I didn’t know what to say. To be honest, I did’t think I could even process the information. As if she spoke to me in a foreign language, I could not make due of what she just told me.
It was only until late that night that it finally came through to me. In an instance, tears started to flow down my cheeks. It wasn’t gradual; it was just all of a sudden. My mom, who was just awoken by the sounds of my cries from her sleep on the chair next to me, stood up and crawled beside me into the tiny hospital bed. She held me in her arms as I whaled out in agony. I wanted to rest my head on her chest like I used to do when I was upset, but, because I’d grown bigger, I couldn’t even reach that far low without straining my neck. So I settled for her shoulder, while she held my comfortingly in her arms and stroked my long hair, as I was shaking and sniffling.
That night I slept curled up against my mother. Before, I probably would have thought it was pathetic; but right now, I needed that more than ever. The comfort of my mother’s presence was what I needed at a time like this.
After I was eventually given the “okay” from the doctor to leave the hospital that morning, my mom carefully walked me, arms tightly linked together, to the car in the parking lot. I was dressed in clothes my mom bought for me from the department store across the street from the hospital. Although the clothing I was given was not necessarily my style, I couldn’t really complain because anything was better than that hospital gown I was dressed in earlier that day.
When we arrived home, my dad was waiting on our driveway. As soon as we parked the car, my dad swung open my door. He grabbed my hand and helped out the car. I stepped out, one foot at a time, and I flung my arms around his neck. He wrapped his arms around my waist and leaned back, lifting me in the process. After he put me down, we remained in that tight hugging position. When he started to pull away, I squeezed even harder. I couldn’t help from becoming emotional. Once we eventually let go, my dad wiped the tear that drew from my eye.
After I got my bearings, we walked over to our front door. As soon as I opened the door, I was greeted by many of my relatives, which made all of my emotions come right back. Through the door, I swooped around them to avoid sharing the saddened expression written on my face, but then I was confronted by an even bigger crowd of people. I found myself drowning from all the questions and concerns they shoved in my face. My aunts and uncles swarmed in closer, barricading the stairway that leads to my bedroom. Now overwhelmed by the amount of people closing in on me, I shuffled myself out of the herd of people and ran up the stairs to my room.
I hunched over my dresser and stared at my reflection in the mirror. I used my fingers to brush back the hair on my face, as I exhaled in a sigh of relief from the mob that confronted me downstairs. My mind could not fully accept the fact that this is now my reality. I just wanted someone to come out and say that this was all just a prank—that this isn’t real. My heart then started to thump vigorously. It was beating harder and harder, as if it was violently trying to penetrate through my chest. I never knew it was possible to feel the beating of my heart through my head, but it was quite unbearable. Not only that, but I felt as if the room was spinning. I dizzily stumbled towards my bed, and then collapsed on top of my bed.
The sun’s rays pierced through my curtains and shined straight into my eyes; which woke me up from my sleep. I punched the air with my fists as I stretched my arms as far as I could across either side of my bed. I then arched my back and pulled back my shoulders in an attempt to sooth my sore back. Surprising, the hospital bed was more comfortable than my own bed. It then occurred to me that it was the morning of the next day. I had my sheets pulled over my body, and the door to my room was wide open. I assumed that my parents left me alone to sleep.
I gradually got out of bed and opened my dresser drawer for something comfortable to wear, yet things don’t always work out. With an unwanted stretch and a cringeworthy tear, my clothes didn’t fit me in the way they used to. I had to resort to my mother’s wardrobe for something to wear; nothing like saggy, old sweatpants and a Van Halen concert t-shirt to start off a new day.
Over the next week, I would stay in my room eating ice cream and catching up on episodes of Dancing with the Stars. My parents, of course, were concerned for my well-being. My dad continued his busy work schedule, but my mom took some days off of work to stay home with me. There were times when my mom would ask if I was all right, and I would always assure her that I was. Though sometimes I wasn’t, I wouldn’t tell her because I didn’t want her to worry even more so than she was; she’s done so much already.
One day, my parents barged into my room, which woke me up from a mediocre night’s sleep. I was brought to my full attention when they suggested I attend a session with a local therapist because there was a last second opening. The idea of therapy was alarming. I didn’t believe that some person saying things like “how do you feel” or “everything is going to be okay” could magically make me feel better just like that. I immediately shot down the idea. I knew I could get over this; it was just a matter of when. But really, I just wanted to focus on the situation at hand, which is not getting so emotional after hearing about yet another thing I missed over the last five years.
While I was lounging on my beanbag chair one afternoon, I saw through my window that a moving van was in the driveway of the Murphy’s home. This was particularly odd to me since they lived in that house for over fifty years so I couldn’t imagine that they would move. I moved more towards the window to get a better look at what was happening across the street.
I saw that there was a young pregnant woman leaning on the side of the front door frame, pleasantly watching a little boy and a young man unload the van. I believed that the young man and woman were the boy’s parents. The father carried a leather chair while his son happily followed along. When they got up to the front door, they both put down their load. The father greeted the mother with a kiss and the little boy, being as small as he is, wrapped his arms around his father’s and the mother’s legs to hug them. The two parents crouched down to the boy’s height and returned his affection with an even bigger hug that was wrapped around their little family. Seeing all this made me think about my own situation. While these people are starting a new chapter in their lives, I’m here doing absolutely nothing to move forward with my own life
At dinner with my mom, I asked her why was there a new family moving into the Murphys’ home. She told me that their house was recently sold. She took notice to the annoyed look on my face and explained even further. She told me that Mr. Murphy was diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago and unfortunately died within one year later. Mrs. Murphy didn’t handle her loss very well. She remained in her home by herself as she dealt with her grief. She didn’t even acknowledge any comfort from her friends and family. It wasn’t until the final hours upon her death did she open up to her loved ones and admitted her to regrets for pushing them away.
I found that quite startling and, though I didn’t want to admit it, surprisingly similar to my situation. I excused myself from the dinner table to go upstairs. As I sat down on the edge of the bed in my room, I thought about what Mrs. Murphy went through.
Mrs. Murphy let her grief define her way of life. Rather than trying to move on she remained in her home and refused the help of others. In a way, I was sort of dealing with a loss. I didn’t want to think about my next step in life; it’s a scary thought. I wanted to remain in my home where it was safe and familiar. Even before the accident, I never really left my home. I never really opened myself up to people and I never really wanted to. I thought it was easier to stay away from people rather than dealing with them. It wasn’t the stupid car accident’s fault after all; it was me this whole time. I guess I was just using the accident as an excuse. But I didn’t know how I could change. I wondered just how could I ever do that. I knew people don’t just change overnight, so how in the world could I ever do that on my own. It was at that moment, almost on cue, my mom appeared at my door.
My mom sat beside me on my bed and wrapped her arm across my back. This time, I didn’t cry. I couldn’t keep doing this whole feeling bad for myself stuff. So I sat up straight, looked her in the eye, and firmly spoke to her about everything that had been going on. I told her how upset I’ve been feeling these last couple of weeks and how I was afraid to leave home and to face reality. She carefully listened to every word I said. Then when I was done speaking she told me, “Everything is going to be okay,” and I actually believed that was true.
That night as I lied in my bed, my eyelids grew heavier and heavier. I thought about how this all started; not just the car crash, but before that. As my eyelids drew to a close, some visuals appeared in my head. I could see myself, in the third person. It was the night of the car crash, five years ago. The younger version of me was driving car down the street and was crying. Soon those tears turned into rage, and I practically stomped on the gas pedal. I remembered that day; all I wanted to do was leave everyone and everything as far and as fast as I could. I blew a red light, and another one, and another. Luckily there was no one there. The numbers on the speedometer rose higher and higher. Just before it hits 80 miles an hour, my car slammed into the side of a crossing truck. Then, at that very point, my visuals fade into a sea of blackness.
It was at that moment that I opened my eyes. I looked to my left only to see that my car was in flames. As I laid half conscious, sprawled on the concrete, I could hear the muffled sounds of sirens coming from every which way. I moved my head over to my right. Through the snowing of ash, I could see a scuffle of people running towards me. And at the falling of unconsciousness, I realized that it actually was the beginning of my awakening. Then just like that, I go back to sleep.