I move myself from the wheelchair to my bed with ease. It’s been a month since I woke up, my muscles are getting stronger, I can walk short distances with the aid of a walker before getting tired, I’ve put on weight, which is apparently a good thing despite what I’ve read in the magazines Nicole brings me.
Although I’m still mostly stuck in this room, my psychologist has taken to wheeling me out into the hospital grounds for our sessions, which I appreciate.
Brad and Nicole are still my main visitors, with Julz popping in from time to time. I’ve also met Brads sister Lucy and her husband Seb. Apparently, Brad has mentioned me a lot since he started working at the hospital 8 years ago, that Lucy and Seb felt like they knew me. Like I’ve always been apart of their lives. Or so Lucy said.
Lucy has visited a few times on her own, telling me stories of her children, 6 year old Hayley and 3 year old Richard. She’s told me about their group of friends and filled me in on their lives.
Perfect strangers, yet somehow I feel welcome amongst them. Well, for the ones I’ve met anyway.
Both Nicole and Lucy have mentioned Nicole’s upcoming wedding to Brad. Nicole has brought in a heap of decorations she’s putting together for the reception, and I’ve helped her assemble them. It’s nice to feel productive, and included.
I relax into my pillow after a grueling physio session when my door flies open and Julz walks in, her arms full of items.
She unceremoniously dumps the contents on the end of my bed.
“Come on, get up, we have to get you ready.” She states. I stare at her wide eyed, sure that I was done with appointments for the day.
“Uh...” I stammer, “ready for what?”
She grabs my arms and pulls me up as I swing my legs over the side of the bed.
“For Nicole and Brads wedding, duh.” She says with a roll of her eyes. I bite my lip, unsure of what to say. I didn’t think I was invited after all. As if reading my mind, Julz continues.
“Of course you are invited, they just needed to clear it with the hospital first. Nicole was the one who sent me here, after all. So come on, let’s get you showered.”
She pulls the walker in front of me and I shakily take the handles.
“Are you sure?” I ask
“Im not going against a bride on her wedding day. Of course I’m sure, now do you need help showering?”
I shake my head and she nudges me towards the shower. I guess I’m going to a wedding.
Julz had everything I could possibly need, from a knee length blue dress, that apparently brings out my eyes, flat white shoes, given I’m unsteady on my feet, she said it’d be dangerous for me to wear heels, even though I’ll be in the wheelchair most of the time.
She styled my hair in a half up, half down fashion and did my makeup, though not much of it. According to Julz, I was “disgustingly beautiful without makeup.” Whatever that means.
When I was finished getting ready, Julz wheeled me to the mirror in the bathroom and I was floored by the unknown woman looking back at me. Everything they had picked for me was beautiful and I wasn’t sure how to repay their generosity. On top of just this outfit for the wedding, Nicole had gifted me a lot of clothes for my stay in the hospital.
“Thank you Julz.” I whispered as I stared at myself in the mirror.
“Don’t mention it. Now let’s spring you from this place, are you ready to see the outside world?”
Was I ready? I was nervous and scared, all I know is this hospital and what I’ve seen on the iPad and TV. But I was also excited to see it for myself. And remembering that Nicole and Brad had opted for a beach wedding, had me more excited.
I took a deep breath and nodded. “Let’s go.”
Driving to the wedding, Julz filled me in on everything that would happen, considering I’d never been to one before, or I don’t remember going to one before. Hearing that Lucy and Seb were part of the bridal party made me nervous, I would only know Julz. I had no reason to be nervous. As soon as we pulled up and slowly got out of the cars we were greeted by people I’d seen around the hospital, others who were friends of Brads and Nicole’s, who knew Julz, came to say hello and introduce themselves. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, I felt at ease. Although the sheer amount of people in attendance was slightly overwhelming.
Julz had wheeled me into where the ceremony would be and I watched in awe as Brad and Nicole vowed their lives to one another.
I don’t remember love. I don’t remember giving it, or receiving it. I don’t know if I was ever loved, or if I loved anyone.
But seeing Nicole and Brad, seeing the tears in their eyes, the smiles on their faces and the way they look at each other, I had no doubt that I could now say I had experienced love. Even if it was just from the sidelines.
“Well, the boring parts over, now comes the fun part!” Julz said as she pushed me away from where the ceremony was held and towards the beach where the reception will be held.
I couldn’t help but be excited, if that beautiful display was considered boring, I couldn’t wait for what comes next.
I was in awe as Julz wheeled me closer to the ocean. There was a walkway leading out to a large floor, with tables sitting around an empty area. Completely outdoors, the ocean water was only steps away.
I breathed in the salty air, let the breeze blow my hair back as the last of the days sun rays hit my skin. It was a phenomenal feeling, something I wondered if I was lucky enough to feel before.
“This is beautiful.” I whispered, taking in the beautifully decorated tables, with the fake flower arrangements I’d helped Nicole put together, white table clothes flapping in the light breeze, with the rolling waves as the backdrop.
Julz stood beside me, staring down at me with a content smile on her face.
“It’s funny you know,” she says as she takes in the scene before her. “I never would have stopped to take all this in, if you weren’t with me, but knowing that this is new for you, something you haven’t experienced, makes me want to see what I would have missed.”
I smile, unsure how to respond. I’m just grateful that my first experience outside of the hospital, is one so magnificent.