After a recent health issue that landed me in the hospital for ten days (five of which were in ICU) I have found in difficult. A writing prompt was given to me this morning that broke the block. This was awesome. Now I do warn you all that it might be a tad bit depressing for some readers, but as always Happy reading. Warning I have never written anything like the following before.
The astringent smell of sterile antiseptic filled my nose as realization dawned on my face and I listed to myself, “We weren’t the same after he died. Life wasn’t.” I had been talking to this underweight waif for the last hour and it just hit me. From the oily, stringy hair to the dead brown eyes, and coke bottle glasses. The woman before me was literally a younger version of myself.
How this came to be I don’t know and the science behind it would probably give me a migraine, so I won’t bother to think on that. What matters is that I at least try to help the younger me – someone has to. It is a task I know won’t be easy, I remember well the stubborn hopelessness I felt at this age. I can tell by the barest glimmer of anger that the young me knows who I am as well.
“Most people aren’t the same after the loss of a loved one. Children and parents are often inseparable in their youth,” I told my younger self.
“Really? I’m giving myself psycho-babble?”
“It’s the career that helped to heal us. Quick, sudden, agonizing death followed by long, torturous, slow ones combined with a slow self-esteem really played with our head up until we were in our early twenties. That’s when we learned self-preservation. Turned out to be a skill we were good in.
“Once we learned we were important, we put the skill to good use.
“I must say though, having myself as a patient is a surprise.”
“Yeah well, I didn’t look at the name of the doctor on my chart when they admitted me.”
Did I really have that much of an attitude when I was in my early twenties? All I can truly remember is being exhausted and wanting all of the pain to end. Yet as this strange and familiar woman sits before me, I see more spunk and will to live than I have in trouble teenagers.
That’s when I have an idea. I sit in the chair next to the bed and I look at myself. I remember being that waif. Skeletal and done with the world. It’s time for some hope – in a way only I know how to deliver.
“I won’t sugar coat it. Your life isn’t going to be easy, but in the future you will meet two people that will make this crapshoot called life worth it. Don’t worry neither of them is a kid. First one will be your husband.
“Second one will come a little later after a case of food poisoning leaves you comatose for four days. Do you remember Sue from the truck stop?” I watch as this young me nods. “You meet another woman about that night. Her name’s Carla. Trust me when I say that you want to hear what she has to say. It’ll help with the first loss. That information will help you with the rest of the cemetery that is the family.”
I let the silence stretch in the room until I can see the barest glimpse of hope, “Do you promise?”
“I do. You should also know that we’ve never broken our word once given. For Christ’s sake, you’re twenty five, it’s not gonna be much longer before it’s easier,” I swear to the young me with all the passion that a harsh life has given to a renewed soul.
This time though I see hope shine a little brighter in once dead eyes, hope that I know is desperately needed or I may not see my future.