Life is Unfair
I frequently glance out the window towards Levi. He’s been sitting out there alone for a few hours now, refusing Sarah’s and Nates offers to bring him back to his room. My heart aches for him and I let him be alone for a while longer. I figured he would refuse dinner too. Life is so unfair sometimes.
I am worried that it is getting too cold out, so I take a chance and quietly approach him. He doesn’t speak or look at me, but he does not refuse me either when I grab his left hand and hold it in mine. I pull him slightly, persuading him to control his wheelchair to follow me inside.
Once in his room, I head to the bathroom to turn on the shower.
" You don’t have to”, he quietly tells me.
He needs a hot shower, that will help him. He’s already refused any help from Sarah and Nate tonight, so I gently get him undressed, cover him up with a towel and transfer him to the shower chair. I haven’t done any of this with him before, but he is not putting up a fight, and lets me continue.
After his shower he lets me help him get dressed in a t-shirt and cotton shorts and into bed. He refrains from speaking the entire time until I sit beside him. I want to let him know he is not alone; I am here for him...
" I’m sorry”, I tell him. ” Do you want to talk”, I ask.
He shakes his head no and says in the saddest tone, ” Thank you though”.
The next two weeks took a downwards spiral. Levi’s moods swiftly changed from hurt to anger then resentment, heading him straight into depression.
He fights with Nate every morning, refusing to get dressed or eat on most days.
I hear Levi yelling at him from his room. Nate meets me in the hall and says, ” He’s getting worse every day, this isn’t good, and Sarah is scared to go in there now”.
" I know that what he’s going through is part of it, and I will keep at him, but I don’t know if Sarah will be able to handle much more”, Nate informs me.
“I know, I’m sorry Nate and I really appreciate everything you’re doing, I will talk to Sarah”, I let him know.
" I will take over all of his therapy sessions this week. He doesn’t speak to me, but he does let me do what I need to do with him without yelling at me. Do you mind taking over sessions with my other patients for now?” I ask Nate.
Nate gladly agrees before I head over to talk with Sarah.
The rest of the week is a struggle to say the least. I managed to get Levi into the pool for therapy before lunch every day. I had him sit in the swim out and kept him away from the wall so that he had no choice but to use his muscles to balance himself and sit on his own. I was right next to him of course so he wouldn’t fall in.
Every therapy session I changed it up, using the weight room, massage treatments, and different core muscle workouts. He needs to get control of his upper body before I can get him standing, so without him realizing my goal for him, I stayed persistent with every session even when he tried to protest. I wanted him to realize that I am going to be here for him every step of the way.
He did not say a word to me the entire week, so I thought of random things to talk about. I talked more about myself and how my sister who was paralyzed at age fifteen gave me the inspiration to open this place and how she is about to have her third child. I could tell Levi was interested in my story by the way he paused to look at me, even though he never engaged in the conversation.
By the time Friday came I was exhausted. I have only gone home for about six hours of sleep a night. I was here working with Levi every minute of the day, trying to distract him, and praying he would come out of the depression he was in.
He was in his chair staring out the window when I went to check on him this morning. Nate told me he didn’t sleep all night and refused breakfast this morning.
“Please leave me alone today Charlotte”, he quietly pleaded with me when I entered his room.
When I didn’t move, he tried one more time.
" Please go away, I’m not participating in therapy even if you try to make me”, he says.
“Fine, I will give you the morning off, but I at least want you to eat some lunch before I come back this afternoon”, I try and compromise with him.
He just nods back and then I let him be. I have so much catching up to do with my other patients, and this gives me a chance to do that.
Lunch time arrives before I have time to catch up on everything and I make my way to Levi’s room. He is going to eat lunch even if I must force him.
He isn’t anywhere in his room or in his bathroom when I get there. Where could he be? I just came from the patio so he’s not out there or in the garden, I didn’t see him in the lounge when I just passed by and I doubt he’s in the gym on his own, but maybe!
I step out into the hall, ready to make my way to the gym and see the pool door closing on its own. Who is using the pool I wonder; everyone is eating lunch right now?
Suddenly I feel sick, I have this horrible feeling in my gut, and without thinking too much, I run down the hall to the pool and yell for Nate as I get to the door.
I rush inside and find Levi’s chair empty and at the edge of the pool.
“Oh my God!“, I yell out.
Levi is towards the bottom of the deep end, just floating down, he is not even trying to swim, and overwhelming fear takes over me as I realize what he is trying to do.
I dive in after him, grabbing him under his arms and swimming him back up. I drag him up to sit on the swim out and lean him back against the side, waiting with him there until he stops coughing.
Nate rushes in and looks at me, horrified. Flashbacks of when he couldn’t save his best friend probably racing through his mind. He pauses by the pool until I instruct him to leave and get us some towels.
I stay quiet for a moment longer, observing Levi. He’s done coughing, his head is down, a mix of real tears and pool water is streaming down his face.
I am so upset with him... but more upset with myself really. How did I not see this coming; the signs were there, and I didn’t see them? He was different this morning, he said more words to me than he had in the last two weeks, even if his words consisted of him telling me to leave him alone. I am such an idiot.
I didn’t know what to do, so I hugged him. When he didn’t respond, I let go and put my hand under his chin to lift his face.
“Look at me Levi”, I calmly demand.
He looks at me, his once bright blue-green eyes now burdened with despair that it shatters my heart in a million pieces.
He tries to look down again but this time I place both my hands on either side of his face and force him to look at me.
I hold my gaze with his and speak in the most meaningful tone I can and slowly say,
“You are not alone in this”.
Still looking straight into his eyes, I emphasize even more slowly,
“I... will... Never... give up on you, so you can ... never... give up on yourself”.
“Promise me”, I say more demanding this time.
Levi closes his eyes for a moment then opens them, “I promise”, he softly replies.
Nate hurries back with towels and I get him to take Levi back to his room to help him into some dry clothes.
As soon as they both leave the pool area, I break down crying.