Patience

A story of heartbreak and loss.
*My entry for IceCreamGirl and Chetna's 'Awesomest Competition Ever!'* Roughly 1,679 words. :)

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1. Patience

I stare at the old family photograph, wondering what the hell happened to us- how did my world turn upside down?

This was the family I longed for, the family I once had. Snatched away from me is a matter of minutes. It had been perfect; two bouncy children, a loving Mother and Father and a beautiful house. And then there was nothing, as though a kaleidoscope had come and mashed my life into pieces. Why had it happened? Why had God let it happen?

I remember when they told us, the officers that knocked on our door and gave us the news that ruined everything we had, everything that we had worked so hard for. It was a dark afternoon, rain smashing down onto the roof and streaming down the windows, reflecting the tears that later lined my eyes. They had appeared on our doorstep, looking out of place and desolate, her hair was windswept and his was ruffled, both of them looked like something out of a horror movie, gaunt faces, wide, grey eyes, I am surprised we didn’t mistake them for a ghost. Their forlorn faces started to speak, but I wasn’t listening. I was curious, but confused, and, taking a step back, I allowed my grandparents to walk in front of us, shielding me and my sister from the pain.

My grandmother’s eyes widened and she leant out for balance, steading herself and her words. Grandfather didn’t move, he just stood there like a lost child, upset and mad at the world. The words rolled back and forth in my head but I couldn’t process them. Car. Accident. Hospital. They made no sense to me; it was as though my whole head had just collapsed inwards. Everything was wrong. Somehow, I pulled myself out of my mind long enough to notice that Mary was crying. Mary, my poor, darling sister, who probably had no clue as to what was going on. I enveloped her in a tight hug, burying my face into her copper curls.

As long as we stayed together, everything would be fine, right? I didn’t let the officers’ words get into my head, and blocked them out with a wall of Mary.

We broke apart and her circular sapphire eyes looking into mine. “What’s happening?” Her words were slurred, and she shoved her thumb into her mouth, as though it would make it all better.

“I don’t know.”  My blunt reply was truthful and I looked back at my Grandparents for reassurance. They were both still standing, their hands joint together in a tight embrace as they solemnly nodded their heads. Tears trickled down their faces as they turned to face us.

“Mary, Kyra, go in the car with the officers please.” We all followed the officers outside and hesitantly clambered into their brightly painted, blue and yellow police car.

The journey there was long and silent. Roads seemed to stretch out further than before, and the only noise was the slow, haggard breathing of our grandparents. Mary slipped into a deep sleep and I was left pondering over the little information I had grasped.

There was absolutely no way that this could have happened. I mean; a car crash? Dad was the most careful driver I knew. How bad had it been? The officer had said that we should come with them to the hospital, but they had never actually specified and of the details. I suppose that we were all too shocked to ask, and they were all too sympathetic to mention. There was no way I was asking though. I didn’t want to be the one to mention it, the one to make it a reality. I much preferred it in my head, when I could dream that they were both alright, and not know the harsh reality of it.

By the time that we were at the hospital, Mary had stirred and woken up. We were lead into the building, through winding corridors and swinging doors. I remember how startling white it was. The crisp, brightness of it momentarily blinded me. I suppose that they had it so bright to distract the visitors and patients, to make them think that everything was all okay. A clean surface would give the illusion that their lives were clean too, and not affected by the horrible reality. There were no drops of blood on the fresh, white walls.

We were pulled to a halt at a broad, reception desk. The officers whispered to the nurse behind the desk, so quietly that they were barely audible. The lady seemed to understand them though and, after tapping some things into her computer, started to walk back down the halls, beckoning to us to follow. Grandmother was right at her heels, with Grandfather not far behind. I felt for Mary’s hand and we scurried after them, our little legs flying.

They stopped at a row of plastic seat, into which we slid. The woman stood before us, reciting the details of the accident to our Grandparents. The officers appeared to have left us; probably off to break similar news to some other, poor family. The woman was tall and thin, a bundle of curly black hair sprouting from her head. She appeared tired, with pursed lips and hollow bags beneath her eyes. As she started to speak, her eyes glazed over.

“The accident occurred at roughly 11.15 AM this morning. A car had pulled over at the side of the road, when a lorry, the driver distracted, smashed into the back of it.”

I winced. As much as I wanted to know exactly what was going on, I somewhat wished that she would spare us the details.

“Mr and Mrs Anderson were the occupants of that car.”

I swallowed.

“Are they O.K?” My Grandfather spoke quickly, panicked and concerned. 

“Mrs Anderson was taken to the intensive care unit this afternoon; and, Mr Anderson-“
“Yes?”

 “He was pronounced dead at the scene.”

My throat tightened.

 Dead?

No.

Without Dad, our family would be incomplete. I would be incomplete. He was the man I looked up to, the man who protected me. I couldn’t live without him.

I clutched my stomach, my vision blurring. How could this happen to us? My stomach throbbed and ached, and then, I bent over and retched loudly; all over the white floor. Perhaps everything was not as perfect as I thought.

Regaining my balance, I looked up to the nurse. She seemed unfazed by my sudden outburst. Embarrassed, I wiped at my mouth and apologised, my voice hoarse and whispery. Her lips twitched but she showed no sign of disgust. Gesturing towards a door, she helped us all to stand.

“My greatest sympathies are for you at this hard time.” Gosh. She was speaking like a ‘sympathy card’. It was obvious that those lines were scripted and rehearsed. She didn’t care; she had no idea what we were going through. Pushing open the door, she turned to us. “Mrs Anderson has been permitted to the intensive care unit, as she was knocked into a coma.”

A coma?

Could it even get any worse?

I only had one parent left, and she wasn’t even awake.

“A coma?” I voiced my thoughts.

“Yes, she hasn’t yet shown any signs of recovering, but from what we know, it shouldn’t take any longer than a month before she comes out of it.”

Back then, I didn’t know just how wrong they were. It has been five months, and Mum has shown no sign of recovery. They have moved her all over the hospital; hooked up to her life support machine and being fed through unnatural tubes. I don’t want any of that; I just want my Mum back.

As we walked through those doors that day, I remember thinking how fragile she looked; laying there with her pale skin and colourless lips, she closely resembled a porcelain doll. Her hair spiralled out from her head, laying all over the white pillow and framing her face. Eyes closed, she just looked like she was sleeping. Nobody would have dreamed that her sleep would last so long.

I remember cupping her face in my hands, and giving her a small peck on the cheek, picking up Mary and watching her do the same. I remember just how scared and devastated our Grandparents looked. Little did they know that we were going to be thrust upon them for the next five months. I am so proud of them for that: for taking our lives under their wing when they had enough to deal with.

I miss Mum so much, everyday it just gets worse. I sit before her now, peering into the picture and translating the details to her. The doctor said that the more I talked to her, the more likely it is that she will hear me. He said that it may look like she is asleep, but really, she can hear everything. So that is what I am doing, and what I have been doing, for the past five months. Every day, I come and visit her at the hospital, talking to her about anything, everything. It is actually quite nice to know that somebody is listening for once. My friends sympathised but could not empathise, and have slowly drifted away. I do not care. Their words never consoled me, just simply made me feel worse.

Whenever my Grandparents offered to take Mary out, I would ask to come here and talk. Of course they let me. They know how hard it is, how much I struggle. Mary doesn’t come. Our Grandparents only allow her to come once a month, in fear that she will get too attached. I guess that’s what I am. ‘Attached’.

 I suppose that you never really realise just how important somebody is, until they are taken away from you, whether it is by death, or just a dream.

I don’t know when Mum will wake up, but I do know that I will be here, through it all, patient.

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