Tears from the Compound Eye

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A patient in a coma recounts their life experiences while those around her don't realize her alertness.

Submitted: September 29, 2015

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Submitted: September 29, 2015

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It has been quite the hell of an existence. I don’t mean that in a “cool and awesome” as hell of an existence. I mean a “pain in the ass, I should have never been born” hell of an existence. Always sick, always in the hospital, missing school, losing friends. My parents, God bless them, did their best to be there for me, but even they couldn’t hide the strains of caring for a sick child. It wore them down and years later, it seems they have finally thrown in the towel. Today, a beautiful slender young woman will be taken off life support.

To the doctors and wonderful nurses, I have been in a coma for 16 months. Unfortunately for me, they don’t realize I am aware, of each and everything around me. Painfully aware, in fact, of me constantly shitting and pissing myself, being tube fed, feeling pain all over my body, and still dealing with that “time of the month.” Stuck in this nursing home wasting away while my poor mother does the jobs that should be delegated to the employees. My father who usually shies away from, as he would call it, “womanly topics” would clean and bathe me, often with tears swelling up in his eyes. At times I wondered whether he was sad for me or for his own longing for the years of suffering to end.

I guess the feeling of imminent death within a few hours brings up all the old memories. There was the time when I played tag with my younger brother and sister and ran through a glass storm door. You know how they say your first kiss is one you’ll never forget? Well, mine happened when we lived in a crappy apartment complex with all kinds of strange folk in the surrounding complexes. I was maybe 11 or 12 years old and a friend of mine from two complexes down were playing in the courtyard park. It was close to supper time and unbeknownst to me at the time, my whole family (uncles, aunts, strange cousins, and all), were about to surprise me in the courtyard for my birthday. We were off the swings and saying our goodbyes when he grabbed my hand and kissed me. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Oh how cute!!” but before you post that to Facebook, know that my whole family was right behind me watching the whole thing! Even the subsequent discussion on puberty, hormones, and of course, boys, was done in front of everyone! In contrast, the college years are a giant blur. All I remember from that was constantly being told I needed to get my act to together or else I’d die. Well guess what, I’m about to die today. At least I lived a little right?

But that’s not to say there weren’t good moments. My parents came from two very different backgrounds. My father was an older generation type, who was born out of poverty. He wasn’t incredibly strict, but he’d be particular about certain things, especially concerning money. If we left the faucet on while brushing, he’d yell at us. Television left on while we were passed out on the couch? Yelled at us.  Having a billion lights on at night because our house was so fucking scary? Yelled at us. You grew an appreciation for his quirks when you understood that he came from basically nothing. Since Mom came from a well off family; these two didn’t exactly get along all the time. But when I got sick as a young girl all their differences seemed to melt away. They stopped fighting and turned their attention towards me. My parents would always offer words of wisdom and seemed to time them well each and every time. While most parents would probably just blame you for something and move on, both my parents were good at turning that into a good life lesson. Later on I would learn that this was a decision they made after I got sick. Not sure why they would focus so much on a dying girl, but I appreciate it I guess.

But conjuring up all these old memories is bittersweet. Part of the nostalgia is a quick pain reliever. I feel warm when I think of Dad threatening to disembowel that creepy guy in high school if he ever stalked me again. Or when my boyfriend in college skipped his chemistry final to spend a day with me in the hospital. The bitter displaces the sweet quickly when I think of all the suffering people endured because of my sickness. Like when Dad missed that promotion interview because I was puking blood in the car ride to school. Or my boyfriend in college failing the course because he skipped that final (math wasn’t his strongsuit, he miscalculated what he needed to pass-not entirely my fault but still). Feeling the aging bones of my mother as she helped turn my body in the bed to avoid bedsores the other day brought on some of that bitter emptiness.

I feel bitter for a lot of things. Bitter that God chose to rob me of what could have been a fulfilling life. I could have been a singer, dancer, famous writer (like my favorite Stephen King), or maybe even the goddamn President. Maybe if I wasn’t sick I could’ve been there for people. Maybe I wouldn’t have been such a leech to society always in the care of someone else. I could have contributed, made something of myself. But here I lay on this hospital bed waiting for the hour they decide to pull the plug and end it for once and for all.

Perhaps this dying thing isn’t so bad. I’ll finally figure out what happens when we die, right? Though I can’t share that knowledge with anyone at least it’ll satisfy my own curiosity. I used to think that when I died I could take a videotape (gosh how long ago was that?) without God knowing (remember I was a kid once) and drop it from the clouds in the hopes someone would find it. That was if God thought I was worthy enough for Heaven; hopefully I still am.

Wherever I go, I’m happy that I’ll no longer be a burden on people. No longer be confined to the piss and shit of my own doing in this bed. No longer being fed this gas inducing, nauseating and foul smelling enteral tube feed. No longer a leech, a parasite, a hindrance to those around me. I can finally be set free, but so will they. The sun will rise again and everything will keep moving as if nothing happened. The funeral would come and go. The speeches, words, and statements will flutter in the funeral home and disperse as they close the gasket and seal the deal.

It seems my parents have arrived with some other undecipherable voices. I can hear the sounds, the voice quivering, sniffles, blowing noses, all of it. Those stupid doctors taking their sweet fucking time, make it quick already! Don’t you know it’s not polite to keep a lady waiting?

And just like that, they pulled the plug. The ventilator stopped, the oxygen supply dried up, and began that train ride to the other world. At first a level of paranoia set in and I started shaking, almost clamoring with a change in mind. “Please, stop, I change my mind, I don’t wanna die! Please put the ventilator on! I can’t leave my family, I still have a whole lifetime left! Please give me one more chance!” But no one heard me. All they heard were my gasps for air. My desperate attempts to salvage my poor useless existence.

But then the strangest thing happened. I became calm, a feeling of tranquility that I haven’t felt in a long time, peace at last. I saw a meadow abounding in blossom, felt a cool breeze across my face and my whole naked body. The shackles on my arms and legs broke and gave way. I fell deeper and deeper into this world, my mind sinking and spiraling down. Memories of my childhood played across the mind’s eye like an old film reel. Eventually the film burnt through and became a white light, though I could still feel those memories. Once the feelings disappeared, my body was left behind, leaving my spirit devoid of that wretched sick flesh. My spirit fluttered to those most elevated heights where I currently reside, waiting for my next journey. There seems to be a long line, but I have my resume ready for St. Peter. Maybe I’ll get my second chance after all.

The End


© Copyright 2020 Justin George. All rights reserved.

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