I must have stayed in the hot tub for a good fifty minutes, it felt so serene.
I had Sarah bring me back to my room and help me get into bed. I’m exhausted and will probably have no trouble sleeping tonight. But not before I thank Charlotte for taking me out today.
The drive, the park, the way Charlotte held my hand to walk beside me made me feel important, everything was perfect. I didn’t realize how much I needed that until I was sitting on the grassy field, overlooking the bay.
Somehow Charlotte knew though. She knew I needed one day away from everything, a day where I could forget for a few moments about all the obstacles in my way. I didn’t want this day to end.
“Sarah, after you’re finished with me, do you mind finding Charlotte? I need to thank her for today”.
“No problem at all! I’m finished so I’ll go find her for you”, Sarah happily answers.
I think a half hour went by before Nate walked into my room.
" Oh sorry, were you sleeping?” Nate asks me.
I shift up in bed a little, rubbing my eyes so I can focus on him.
“Well Charlie asked me to give you this”, he says, handing me what looks like a brown leather book.
“Oh?” I question.
Not liking how on edge Nate looks, rubbing his hand through his curly hair and says, ” Charlie had to leave in a hurry tonight, she’s on a plane to North Carolina right now”.
“Why?” I ask, a bit perplexed.
“She didn’t have time to say much, only that she had a family emergency, and that she’ll call when she gets there”, Nate answers.
I know I come off a little selfish when I ask him, ” Do you know when she will be back?”
He tells me he doesn’t know how long she will be gone and makes it a point to show me that he’s worried and hopes nothing terrible has happened. Then he quickly tells me Kelly, the “fill-in” therapist will be here to help this week.
“Great”, I sarcastically reply.
I feel like such a jerk now. Of course, I’m worried about Charlotte too, I was just too selfish to admit it. I let my insecurities rule my thoughts, so all I cared about was that she’ll be gone for who knows how long, and I was going to be alone again.
There is no way I am going to sleep well tonight now. I’m too upset, I don’t want anything bad to happen to Charlotte, but at the same time, I’m upset she is not here with me, that I didn’t get to thank her for today, that she didn’t even say goodbye before she left.
I’m such an idiot to believe that she could ever possibly think of me as anything more than a patient, that I was something more than just her job.
I lay in bed, sulking for a while. I just want to throw something, stupidly thinking that it will make me feel better. I grab the book next to me, preparing to take aim at something. Thankfully, I hesitate for a second, feeling the soft leather cover in my hand. And instead of throwing it, I open it.
Engraved on the inside cover, ” Penny for your thoughts”.
Hmm, ok I think to myself. The first page has a handwritten message, it’s really a quote. It reads....
“Remember, you don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, to trust, to let go, and see what happens”P.S.
Sometimes writing is the best therapy.
What does that even mean? Why did she give me this? I don’t think I’m ready to write my feelings in a journal, I wouldn’t even know how to start.
I put the journal on the nightstand, closed my eyes and forced myself to sleep. Hopefully, I will just dream of the great day that I had at the park and wake up to find out Charlotte has returned.
"Wait!” I yell out, waking myself up from the nightmare I was having. I’m shaking and sweating profusely, it’s 3am when I look at my phone. It takes me a few minutes to realize where I am. In my dream I had fallen on the floor not able to get up. Emma was standing at the door, her arms folded, looking cross. I was reaching for her, but she kept looking at me shaking her head. Help me please I kept saying to her, as she turned around and left.
I couldn’t get back to sleep after that, I just stared at the ceiling until Nate came in with my breakfast four hours later.
The rest of the day I focused my energy on getting my left side stronger. Nate attached me to the weights, made me practice eating using only my left hand...which was frustrating. He hooked me up to the nerve stimulator then made me try to push myself around in the manual wheelchair using both my arms. I was willingly following along with endless therapy, anything to keep my mind wondering to that horrible dream I had last night.
By evening I was sore, tired, and completely annoyed with my left side...it wasn’t any stronger than it was from yesterday. But I did manage to hold onto my fork with my left hand to feed myself tonight.
A hot shower helped, but after that, I was alone in my room. Charlotte had called and left me a voicemail while I was in the shower. She called to say hi and check in on me she said.
Tomorrow, I was supposed to work with Kelly and wasn’t looking forward to it. She’s an older lady in her late 40′s, she’s nice enough, but everything is to-the-point, it’s just not the same as when I’m doing therapy with Nate or Charlotte.
I decide to preoccupy my mind by watching TV until I fell asleep.
I can’t seem to push my wheelchair down the hall. Why can’t I feel my left arm? “Emma, can you please push me”, I ask her. She’s not moving, she’s just leaning against the outside of my door with her hands crossed, shaking her head side to side. “I’m stuck Emma! Why aren’t you helping me!” I start yelling at her.
I must have been holding my breath because I woke up gasping for air. What the fuck!! Another nightmare! I pick up my phone, it’s 4:30am!
It’s now Tuesday and I haven’t slept well in two nights. Nate doesn’t hesitate to comment on my bad mood when he helps me dress and into my chair.
Breakfast doesn’t go over so well either. After I already tried protesting about having to use only my left hand, I lost the grip on my fork and food went flying. Kelly came in to get me for therapy as my plate hit the floor and I couldn’t tell if she was disappointed or annoyed.
Jake is in the gym when we arrive. He’s strapped into a harness that hangs from a ceiling track, and he’s walking around the room using his metal forearm crutches. He makes it look so simple, I want to be happy for him and hate him at the same time. I’m such an asshole sometimes.
“Hey Levi”, he greets me. “I’m going to watch the Premier League game in the lounge later if you want to join me? We can kick back, have a few beers”, he says to me.
“Yeah, yeah... sounds good”, I answer. I need a distraction anyway.
Kelly brings me over to the parallel bars and I immediately scowl at her.
“What are you doing”, I grunt.
" You are working on the bars today”, she says in a serious tone.
I start getting irritated with her, ” And how do you suppose I’m going to do that with one arm?”
" We are going to see what we can do, Sarah’s here to help”, Kelly tries to encourage.
The parallel bars turned out to be a total fiasco. Kelly’s failed attempt to support my left arm on the bar while Sarah held my hips steady was only slightly humiliating for me, until I realized an hour passed and I’d only taken five steps. It wasn’t until I looked over at Jake who was easily walking around, guided by the ceiling track, that I felt completely defeated.
“Put me back in my chair”, I angrily demand of Kelly and Sarah.
" I’m done with your therapy for the day”, I add.
Kelly finally decides she’s not going wait around for my foul mood to change and leaves.
“Come on Levi, I’ll take you to the lounge”, Sarah says.
" Ya, I’ll meet you in the lounge in about thirty minutes”, Jake yells out as I leave the gym.
Having a few beers while watching the game with Jake was a good interruption from my horrid day. I was still in a grim mood though after and refused any other therapy, didn’t shower, and just went to bed. I surprisingly fell asleep quickly.
My dreams take me to the pool area. I feel like I’m up above looking over at someone, it’s strangely eerie. There’s no one around except for a body floating on top of the water. As I get a closer look, I realize the body is mine. Someone help me! I hear myself saying. The body remains still. Charlotte appears from somewhere, but she doesn’t jump in to save me, only walks around the pool looking at the body and then she disappears. Charlotte! Charlotte! Come back! I want to scream....
"Levi! Levi! wake up”, I hear a voice say. I open my eyes to find Sarah shaking me by my shoulders.
“Levi, are you ok?“, you were having a nightmare”, she tells me.
I sit up in bed, rubbing my eyes, my body drenched in sweat.
“Do you want to talk about it”, Sarah nervously asks.
“No”, is all I respond.
“Let’s get you into a hot shower”, she says while pulling the wet blankets off my bed.
" It’s two in the morning”, I groan.
" You’re, up aren’t you? And by the looks of you, I don’t think you’re going back to sleep any time soon”, she points out.
" Fine”, I acknowledge.
I sat in the shower for a while, letting the hot water run down my face. I don’t know what’s bothering me more, the dreams or the fact that Charlotte’s been gone for 3 days and I keep thinking that she’s not coming back. Out of all the nightmares I’ve had this week, that would be my worst one ... Charlotte leaving me here and having someone else take over. Maybe she really did need a break from me.
I told Sarah to leave me in my chair after my shower. She’s right, there’s no way I’m going back to sleep.
Sarah picks up the brown leather journal and tosses it into my lap. I give her a confused look, and before I can speak, she says, ” I know you haven’t slept all week, there is obviously something bothering you, and Charlotte didn’t give you this journal so it can collect dust on your nightstand”.
I look down at the journal for a while contemplating what I should do, then look up at Sarah, ” But how do I start?”
She finishes putting fresh sheets and blankets on my bed and softly says, “How about you begin with how you feel right now and go from there”.