It has been six days, twenty-two hours, seventeen minutes, and forty nine seconds since my life took a drastic turn. Funny, but it feels like forever.
I find it mind boggling that the events of one night can result in total disaster, yet being trapped in a hospital bed is all the proof I need. Once the proverbial dreamer, I am left with but one dream. To wake up strong and healthy so I can hike to the top of Clingmans Dome with Jim like I did last month.
My life has turned into a sad comedy since learning that I am paralyzed from the neck down. And the doctors say I’ll never walk again.
The last few days have been the roughest of my life, but today I smiled for the first time since the accident. I guess what Mama always said is true–a little love can put a rainbow in the grayest of skies.
Guess I should mention that there is a special reason for my euphoric mood. You see I am in high spirits because Jim came to visit me last night. I find it amazing that one kiss, one squeeze of the hand, can send a person reeling with pleasure. Yet that is exactly what happened the minute he stepped through my door.
Earlier today, my sister Tia came to visit and I wanted to share my happiness with her. But deep inside I feared she would think I was crazy. And maybe I am.
Jim is with me now. He showed up a few minutes ago and presented me with a perfect white rose. One that smells so sweet so pure and so fresh it almost brings tears to my eyes.
Exhaling a sigh, I whisper, “I’m so glad you came tonight.”
“I miss you,” he says stretching out on the bed beside me. “Megan, let’s go away together.”
“Oh Jim,” I cry burying my face in his chest and curling my fingers in the flannel of his shirt. “Is that possible?”
“If you take my hand and never let go, we can go anywhere,” He whispers close to my ear.
Eager to be with Jim, I grab both of his hands and entwine my fingers with his. I watch a sexy smile play across his lips. Inhaling his manly scent, I close my eyes and whisper, “Then what are you waiting for? Take me somewhere special.”
“As you wish,” he says, and then standing lifts me high in his arms and cradles me close to his chest. As he heads for the door I think of our future together. Where will it lead? How different will our days be? I’m scared and I think Jim is too, but neither of us can bear the thought of a life without the other in it. So I guess you could say the unknown is preferable to being alone. Jim stops at the door to give me a kiss. I open my eyes and smile up at him, and then we exit the room, a united force eager to face the biggest mystery of all.
The monitors going off in room 326 send Nurse Lynn to her feet. When she reaches the room she finds Dr. Kimball and several other nurses already inside. Years of practice have taught the team what they need to do, but nothing seems to help their patient. At twenty-six minutes after twelve, Dr. Kimball pronounces Megan Riley dead. After the other nurses file out of the room, Lynn remains behind to disconnect the monitors. As she pulls the crumbled sheet from Megan’s lifeless body a perfect white rose flips high in the air before slowly tumbling end over end back to the floor.
Lynn stoops to pick it up and brings it close to her nose. The sweet scent erases the stench of death and brings a smile to her lips. After discarding the lone flower in the trash bin, she covers Megan with a clean sheet and returns to the nurse’s desk. There she flips through the patients chart and makes some notes. Laying the chart aside she lets her mind wander back to the first day Megan Riley arrived in ICU. The family had gathered in the lounge and told Lynn about the horrific crash that had left Jim Riley dead and his young wife Megan a cripple. Closing her eyes, Lynn says a silent prayer that the two young lovers will be reunited in the after life.