I remember when my world collapsed. I remember like it was yesterday. The accident that changed my life. It’s truly astonishing how much force is behind a car skidding to stop, tires screeching for any grip on the icy roads. The world seemed to freeze. All there was was me and that car. And you. Screaming and running. But the snow was too much. You would never have gotten there in time.
I have moments of clarity. Moments of beeping machines or hospital noises. Or shouting. My parents’ marriage fell apart quickly after it happened. I remember my sister sitting beside me, talking in a soft voice. I remember hearing lots of doors slamming.
It wasn’t all bad. I have memories of you, my best friend, coming in and reading to me. You always read a different story or sometimes you would just talk to me. I liked that the most. When you just talked with me. I faded in and out in those long conversations but I remember a lot of them. I think you came every day. At least for a while.
You kept me updated on what was happening, it was only a few short months before my parents split. When you told me about that I heard the small crack in your voice. You never were one for showing emotion. That was the first time of many that I wanted to scream. To leap from this damn bed and run home and tell them to stop.
I often spent the moments of clarity when I was alone screaming at God. He never answered. I soon concluded he wasn’t listening. I tried other Gods, they ignored me too.
The next heartbreak was when you told me my mom had died. You said it wasn’t even a year later. But my mother died alone, from alcohol poisoning.
You told me my dad and sister were doing their best but both had lost more weight than was good for them. My sister found solace in whatever was the cheapest thing she could smoke. You said you were trying, for me, to keep them together. I appreciated that.
Then it was calm, for a while. Calm before a storm. That’s what you said the week my dad killed himself. You said you went to go check on them that morning, as you did every day, and found him with a bottle of vodka and an empty bottle of sleeping pills. He was dead before you got there.
19 years old and you spent all her time here or taking care of my family. I was sad that you weren’t following your own path. You had big dreams once.
Then came the next news. It was bittersweet. You enlisted. Just like you always wanted. I was happy you were going your own way but I was sad you would leave. You cried when you told me you would be at boot camp for six months. I wanted to cry too.
The next time I heard your voice it was harder. You were a soldier now and it was clear in your voice. You told me with a cool, professional tone that you had lost track of my baby sister. She would have been about 20 now. I worried, but you assured me you would track her down.
You visited less often then but the emotion slowly returned to your voice. You’d told me you had a lead on my sister and were going this weekend. You apologized for the fact you will miss our weekly visit. You promised to fill me in when you returned.
You came back and didn’t have any news on my sister but did inform me that you received an offer to go to Germany for a year. I’d hoped you’d take it. You didn’t.
You said it was a year later that the found my sister. She had been found dead when the police raided a drug den. They didn’t say when killed her but you and I already knew.
No 21-year-old should pass on the opportunities of a lifetime to stay with their comatose friend. I wanted to tell you to go. So many times. You never did.
You dated sometimes but your job and I often pushed everyone else away. You said you barely did much else but sleep, work and visit me. I felt bad for being such a burden. You often assured me I wasn’t.
I don’t know how long it’s been, but you’re still here. Even after nurses, doctors, and my family are all gone. You’re still here. You says you know I will wake up and for your sake, I hope I do. Until then, you’ll wait. As long as it takes. I know you’ll wait.