Because I didn’t have to go back to the hospital for over a month, a couple days after I got my bandages off, my dad came to pick me up. In those couple days, Jed and I took a long, slow walk everyday, careful not to strain me too much. My mobility in my arms was getting much better because I wasn’t as scared to move them now, but I was still very careful not to stretch my chest or do anything the doctor told me not to do.
My dad hugged me carefully when he arrived. I had said goodbye to the Prados the night before and thanked them endlessly. They told me that I was welcome anytime and that they were very happy for me. Laney gave me a hug and Marco shook my hand, and Jonah and Jamey smiled at me, so I thought it was a pretty good send off from people who mostly saw me sleep and eat and watch TV.
Saying goodbye to Jed was harder.
“Thank you so much,” I said for the millionth time.
“No problem,” he said. He gave me a hug carefully. When he let go, I got into the car. Jed and I waved as my dad drove us away. I waved until I couldn’t see him anymore.
I went back to work about a week after I got home. It was good to get off the couch, and it was even good to see people again. Brooks and Daniel had the hardest time understanding my limitations. They would ask me to throw a ball around or to help them build their LEGO tower taller, which required me to lift my arm above my shoulder, and I would have to explain to them why I couldn’t do what they asked every time.
I took walks with Gray and my dad. As my healing progressed, we upped the pace. According to the instructions the nurse had given me, I started gently cleaning my nipples and using smaller bandages to cover them. All of my bruising went away, and the scabs on my nipples formed and fell off by the time my 6 week post-operation appointment came around. My dad drove me to Kansas City. It was a quick trip for a relatively quick appointment. I left, knowing that it was my last day having to wear a compression vest, and I wanted to jump up and down and scream with joy. The thing had irritated my armpits and my back to no end, and it was much easier for me not to hunch when I was wearing it.
Not long after that appointment, I started running with Gray again. Even though I was very out of shape, I knew this time that I would get back to running a mile, if not more, and I was determined not to give up.
In late March, I got acceptance letters from every college that I had applied to. That night, I called Terin to tell him my news.
“Have you heard from any schools yet?” I asked.
“Yeah, two,” Terin said. I couldn’t tell from his expression whether or not it was good news.
“I heard from all three of mine,” I said.
“Nice!” he said, smiling. “Did you get in?”
“Yeah, I did. I’m going to visit them soon. My dad wants to go with me to at least one, so I’m waiting to schedule it until he lets me know what days will be best for him.”
“You have to audition, right?”
“Yeah, I’ve chosen the piece I want to audition with for voice and piano, so I’ve been practicing them a lot.”
“Awesome,” Terin said. “Let me know when you end up going so I can tell you good luck.”
“I will,” I promised. “So, what about you? Did you get in?”
“I got into my third choice, but I got rejected from my second choice,” Terin said. “I can’t decide if I’m sad or not. I really just want to know about my first choice.”
“That’s fair,” I said. “They’re all really good schools though, and I’m sure that you’ll have a good experience at any of them.”
“Maybe,” he said. “When I figure out where I was accepted, I’m trying to get Mom to drive to the schools with me.”
“That would be fun,” I said. “Do you have to do anything special to get into their art programs?”
“Well, I already sent my portfolios with my normal applications. My first choice will probably have me interview if they decide they’re interested in me.”
“Then you must have to be hearing from them soon,” I said. “They have to have time to schedule your interview.”
“Yeah,” Terin said. “I’m hoping I’ll hear from them soon.”
The next day, he called me very excited, saying that he got an interview.
“Congrats!” I said, smiling even though he wasn’t looking at the phone. “I’m really happy for you.”
“I’m so nervous for the interview,” he admitted. “I don’t know what to say. Everything was on my resume and in my portfolio, even the painting I did for Gerald and Kira.”
“I think they just want to get to know you outside of your achievements.”
“I don’t really know what I have outside my art skills and my ACT score.”
“So many things,” I said, laughing. “They’ll see how motivated you are and what a good person you are, and they’ll never be able to reject you.”
“I hope,” Terin said.