Am I Broken
I woke up early Saturday morning and spent most of the day in the gym. If Charlotte was going to be gone all weekend, I may as well keep myself busy to pass the time.
I let Sarah hook me up to the ceiling harness so I could practice balancing without anyone having to hold on to me. Nate got me working on the weight machine then doing some floor stretches and sit-ups.
“You’re being unusually cooperative today”, Jake jokingly points out as he is doing his stretches on the mat next to me.
" I promised Charlotte that I would be on my best behavior while she is away “, I smirk.
Jake laughs, “And when Kelly comes to work with you this afternoon, you will still be this cheerful I assume?“, he is mocking me now.
" If she doesn’t try to get me to use those damn parallel bars, then everything should be fine”, I chuckle.
We both stay silent after, continuing with our stretches. A few minutes go by and Jake stops his workout and sits down on the mat facing me. He looks at me and begins speaking to me in a serious tone.
" You know, you should be nice and cooperative like this more often, especially to those who are here to help you, and even more towards the one person who stays by you even when you are acting your worst... the one person who will do anything for you”.
“I know”, I agree with him.
“Then why? Why do you always close yourself off so that all is left is anger? Why does it seem like you are always trying to push her away?” Jake presses me.
I stop my stretches so I can focus on our conversation. I drag myself back so I can sit and lean against the wall. Jake is patiently sitting on his mat waiting for me to respond.
“Honestly, I don’t know why. I do not want to act that way with her. I just keep thinking that my twelve months will be up, and I will be left with only my right-side functioning. I don’t want this to be all I can do, just the thought of it makes me angry all the time”, I confess.
“Well, if that’s the fate you are dealt with, then it is up to you to choose how you are going to live with it, and who you want by your side”, he plainly tells me.
I don’t want to accept that this will be my fate though. But each day that goes by that I cannot stand on my left leg or use my left arm to support my weight, reminds me that this might be the rest of my life, that I will be dependent on a wheelchair and someone assisting me the rest of my life.
“Why don’t you tell Charlotte how you feel instead of holding it all in and then taking it out on her?“, Jake asks me.
“She already spends enough time trying to fix me. I want to be the one who is there for her, doing things for her, but I can’t. I do not want her to have to be the one always taking care of me. Her brother already doesn’t like me and thinks I am a burden to her”, I put my head down feeling ashamed while I explain how I feel to Jake.
He grabs his forearm crutches and stands up to walk out of the room. Just before he leaves, he throws one more reminder at me.
“Please try and talk to her more, you two are good together and I would hate to see you drift apart just because you are too scared of what you don’t know”.
Everything Jake said is right. I know I need to work on a lot of things, I don’t want to lose her.
Sunday came and went without a hitch, and before I knew it, it was almost half past eleven. Charlotte isn’t supposed to be back until after midnight, so I get in my wheelchair, grab my journal and head to the lounge. I would stay in my room, but I do not want to fall asleep before Charlotte gets here, and it is too late to ask Sarah to walk with me, so I dismally resort to using the chair.
Venting my thoughts into my journal will be good for me, while I sit on the couch waiting for her.
Some time passes and I must have dozed off while I was writing because I open my eyes and realize I am lying on the couch with a blanket covering me. My phone says it is three in the morning. Oh no, did I miss her? Did she even come back yet?
Right before I allow myself to get upset, I see my journal set on the seat of my wheelchair with a note attached to it.
The note reads....
I’m sorry I got in so late. You looked so peaceful sleeping; I didn’t want to wake you. I will see you when the sun comes up.
P.S. I am glad to see you used your chair again and your journal.
There are still a few more hours left before sunrise, so I make my way back to my room, hop onto my bed and force myself to fall asleep again.
Morning comes and Charlotte wakes me up by climbing into my bed next to me and wrapping her arm around me. I wouldn’t mind waking up to this beautiful girl next to me every morning, I smile to myself.
I roll over and plant a kiss on her soft lips.
“Good morning beautiful”, I smile and kiss her again.
“Good morning, I missed you”, she says which makes me grin wider.
She gets up off the bed and grabs my hand, pulling me to sit up on the edge of the bed.
“Get up, we have a lot to talk about”, she says.
I am puzzled, did Jake tell her about what we talked about yesterday? All kinds of random thoughts start flooding my mind and I can feel my heart beating faster. I cannot let myself get worked up when I don’t even know what she wants to talk about. So, I take a deep breath and reach for her hands and hold them in mine as she stands in front of me.
“What is it you want to talk about?“, I slowly ask her.
“About next week’s trip to L.A. This time we will have to stay there for two weeks”, she says.
I stopped listening after she said the words, “next week’s trip” and my mind immediately went into fight mode.
“You just got back and you’re leaving again for two weeks?” My voice loud and harsh.
My gut has been telling me this would happen. Andy warned me that this would happen, that she would find ways to escape and turn her attention to her other facility far away from Boston, far away from me. I do not give her any chance to speak, instead I ramble out every insecure thought I have.
“Is it because of the chair? I will use the stupid chair! Fuck, I will use the parallel bars too. I am a burden to you, aren’t I? You are finally tired of trying to fix me....”
She grabs my face with both of her hands and crashes her mouth onto mine, to shut me up.
I want to push her away so I can continue my ranting, but she presses her lips harder and I cave. Her mouth tastes like mint and our lips move together as she caresses her tongue with mine.
She pulls away but still holds my face in her hands, her smile is stretched ear to ear, and she lets out a tiny laugh.
“What are you laughing about?“, I growl.
“I said WE will have to stay there for two weeks! I want you to come with me Levi”, she says.
I remain still, staring at her with utter confusion. I feel like such a fool for getting upset with her. It is Jake who was right this time.
She notices my confused expression while I continue sitting here like a statue, so she proceeds to tell me that the facility in California does stem-cell therapy treatments. She thinks the treatment might help me gain more strength in my hips and left arm and leg if I want to go through with it.
She throws her arms around me and tightly embraces me. She nuzzles her face into my neck and asks, ” Levi, all those things you said... is that really how you think of me?”
“What? No, I shouldn’t have said any of that”, I finally speak.
She hugs me tighter and says,
“I don’t want you to ever feel like you are a burden to me because that is not what you are. And you are not broken Levi, there is nothing I need to fix, I am only trying to help you. You know that, right?”
Her words flood my soul with a sudden and striking realization that I have been blinded by hopelessness and that she is my fortitude.