More than a month ago I shared a positive tale. I shared a tale that was really only a morsel of a beginning. A beginning to a tale that I knew with every fiber of my being had to be a positive tale. It had to be a positive tale because at that time all I had was my love for “the boy.” And now that positive tale has more than just a beginning and it is now slightly more recognizable as my life.
I paused my tale in that place between sleep and awake. The boy had been in a coma for over a week and my life felt like a nightmare in the darkest of nights. It was during that nightmare that one morning my mom took me to a Starbucks in an Albertson’s Market to get coffee and breakfast. The market was almost deserted on a weekday morning except for the cheery barista and bag boy, the latter of which probably should have been in school somewhere. My mom left me to order the coffees while she bought a few groceries in order to get out of the store as quickly as possible. The mundane task daunted me. I was suddenly surrounded by marked down holiday coffee paraphernalia. Good tidings, holiday cheer and the bright colors mocked me. They mocked the misery that I felt in every single atom of my body, which there are approximately 7 x 10 27 atoms in the average human body.
I recall looking into the face of the barista and thinking that my life would never go on. I could never be that cheery again. The world was spinning around me and I was standing still. And no, I wasn’t at the axis but rather just far enough off to the side watching as it just kept spinning faster and faster. Perhaps from one random atom of strength that I had left I ordered after several long, most likely very awkward seconds. It was that or just sit down on the dingy, cracked linoleum floor by myself. And that floor that had seen better days just didn’t seem like the right place for tthe breakdown to end all breakdowns.
The saying “picking up the pieces” didn’t apply. It was at that time during quite possibly my lowest of lows that there weren’t any pieces. There was just me. And thank god I didn’t sit down because I don’t think I could have picked myself up. I felt so alone. I felt that I had lost my identity. I felt that I had lost my life or life as I knew it. I felt that I had nothing. But there was one thing that I did have, and it was my love for him.
I have known for several years now that I am entirely dependent on the boy. It’s a fact that makes my life complete and scares me to my core. He is my axis to the world. Generally I consider myself to be a fiercely independent person. But that all changed when the boy came along almost eight years ago. He managed to carve an ever growing spot into my identity, into my self-worth and into my life. And there is no one else I would rather share my independence, life and person with. Perhaps that is also the beauty and cruelty of love. When you love someone they become apart of you, and you become apart of them. And when life is entirely unrecognizable and in any given brutal second everything could change, you start to realize you could lose that part. That part of you that has intertwined through all the love, tears, victories, defeats and little moments to make you, you.
So it was on that dingy linoleum floor with the barista that thought I was a nutcase and the bag boy that starred at my publicly flowing tears that I held onto the part of me that is the boy. I held onto the strings of hope that I would one day be able to say with certainty that I would not lose that part of me that has become us. I put the coffees in a to go carrier and got out of that Albertson’s as quickly as possible to return to the boy in the what was then a familiar hospital room surrounded by familiar faces who were strangers just days before.
Riding those strings of hope, all I could bargain for with the world was that the boy was comfortably in that place between sleep and awake and he was just taking his sweet time in returning to me, to us and to the world. But it wasn’t that day or even the day after that, that the boy returned to the reality that had become our life. It was approximately 14 days from the accident that the boy began to wake up. They were quite possibly the longest yet shortest, most excruciating yet most hopeful, days that I have ever lived.
The movies, TV and soap-operas have done us all a disservice. The period of transitioning from a low level coma state to a higher level is not angelic. There are no beams of light or handsome men and hot nurses visiting the room. Or if there are you don’t notice them. All you notice is that person that you love so much is not them. They are still on the coma ride and you are still on the everything sucks ride. Except everything sucks just a little bit less. Because they are awake. And the boy “waking up” was integral. It aligned the axis of my world. It was still spinning fast, but at least I was along for the ride at that point.
The middle of my story is dark. I felt a hatred for anything and everything. I had never felt a hatred remotely in comparison to the hatred that consumed me. And to nicely counter my hatred, I felt an indifference for pretty much anything that I didn’t hate. I was a walking, talking ray of sunshine (hell, maybe I still am). Each day as the boy improved and gradually neared the end of the tracks of his coma ride, the fairness of reality haunted me. I would never in a million, billion years wish this injury, accident, pain, suffering and just flat out horrible deal of the hand on anyone, but it just wasn’t fair to the boy. It wasn’t fair to me, to our families, to anyone.
We will probably never know the answer to the question why. And maybe I just don’t even want to know the answer. Maybe there isn’t even an answer. Because I can’t think of any answer or any explanation that would make it any easier or justify the situation. And believe me, I have thought of as many answers as possible during those nights of tossing and turning, during those long, radio-blasting car rides, during those times I wanted to sink away into nothingness and reawaken with this all a nightmare.
The boy’s coma ride and subsequent weeks of being there, but just not quite being himself, were dark for me. I desperately held onto those strings of hope. But that is when the true reality of the situation kicked in. That is when the “this is now my reality” thoughts that never occurred to me actually occurred. That is when exhaustion, desperation and pure loneliness engulfed my being and my every move. It was literally the longest the boy and I had have ever gone without talking to or just being together. Since the age of 17, he has been intertwined into every nook and cranny of my life to complete me. He is my morning, my noon and my night. He is my person to send random text messages or e-mails to. He is my best friend and the love of my life. He is my “I love you’s.” I literally would have sold any vital organ on the black market for even a minute of conversation or connection with him during that darkness.
But riding alongside the ride with exhaustion, desperation, anger and indifference, there was that part of me. That part of me that is the boy. That part of me that has become us. And that is the part of me the glowed, radiated and pulsed blood to my angry core to make it slightly less black each and every time the boy progressed and transitioned back to the amazing, confident, exuberant and thoughtful person that he is. That is the part of me that I held onto when there was nothing else, or nothing else remotely positive. And that is the part of me, of him, of us that is going to continue to grow and morph and mold to wherever this ride shall take us. I would like to suggest the Bahamas with a lovely warm cabana for sunning and an abundance of fishing but I guess I’ll go where it takes us.
And a ride it has been and most likely will continue to be. But it has always been an uphill ride, a positive slope, trending toward improvement. Along with the strings of hope and that part of me that I held onto for dear life, I held onto a phrase that was uttered in one way or another by several doctors along the way, “he has never digressed.” Which is true. The boy is nothing short of incredible. He is quite possibly the strongest, most determined and resilient person that I could ever imagine. He is still on a long road of recovery but he has overcome the impossible, literally. The reality that I get to call him the boy, pobre, sweet pea, sugar plum, love bug and stud muffin is a reality that I can easily live with.
The boy is currently in an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility. He has surpassed everyone’s expectations during his recovery and is doing what he does best, proving the predictions, odds and norm wrong. He is still cruising on his recovery ride and making outstanding strides, leaps and bounds (literally, like with his legs) daily. Needless to say, the story isn’t over. But it has more than just a beginning and a middle. And it is, and of course will be, a positive tale.
Life will be different. And while I still may not be as cheery as that barista, and to be honest probably never will be, my life has gone on with me, willingly along for the ride. I have accepted and possibly even found a little light in this new reality. This is our path and it will be beautiful, beautiful enough to rival the Bahamas. And thank god I didn’t sell any vital organs because I will need them now to keep back up with the boy.