(I hate authors notes so I'm sorry for this one, but to let you know, I've changed the name and cover. It's now called Bleeding Black instead of Secretly Dying)
Just keep driving in the right lane on your life's highway. Make sure you don't swerve left.
Three weeks. Three weeks of talking to old people all day, everyday, while they sit and have some type of therapy done to possibly save their life.
Bald women. Bald guys. Skinny women. Skinny men. Fat women. Fat men. But not once, did I see anyone remotely my age. Nobody.
My mom had sent me into some new patient’s room to wait for her to come in. and I prepared for the normal routine. Interrogating the sorrowful, dying people who I knew had almost no chance of living a full life.
I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. And this mystery patient never came. So I told my mom I felt sick. She took me home, probably knowing I would sneak out later on that night.
I didn’t bother going to Luke’s house. I didn’t feel like hearing about his latest sex toy. I just wanted some fresh air. I walked down the street, towards our neighborhood park, looking at my phone. Jennifer texted me, or actually, more like sexted me.
Jennifer was most definitely a whore, but it didn't phase me most of the time. She could take my mind off things every once in a while.
When I saw her text, I turned towards the direction of her block, heading towards her house.
She began sending me photos with flirty captions. After every few steps, I looked down at my phone screen to see a new photo. I walked and I looked at the latest photo, then bumped into someone, who was also concentrated on her phone.
She fell. Hard. Okay so, maybe I didn't bump into her. It was more like a bulldozer over running over an innocent little puppy. But I swear I didn't mean to do it.
I knelt down a little and began to extend my hand to help her up, but before I could, she quickly recovered and grabbed her now shattered phone, then kept on walking. I thought about being polite for once in my life and offering to buy her a new phone,but thought better of it. She would've probably had some smart remark if I'd said anything anyway.
After my run-in with snarky no-name girl, I decided I no longer wanted to "get some fresh air." I texted Jennifer and told her, "not 2nite. srry. gtg, cu soon, maybe ;)" Then I shut off my phone, hoping to have a peaceful night for once in my life.
I woke up the next morning and didn't feel like I needed to sleep any longer. Going to bed at 11:30 instead of 4 AM made all the difference in the world. I was up,out of bed, showered and ready to go before my mom was even out of the shower.
When you actually look, like really, really look, at a cancer treatment center, you see all the people in it that the world should look up to. Not Superman or Cinderella or even Beyonce. Because all these people in this one facility get up and get out of bed everyday, and go fight for their lives. They put everything they have into stopping the clock that is counting down the time they have left to live out their lives as they were meant to.
I annoyed patients as usual, sitting next to them while they were hooked up to some crazy colored liquid that was supposedly going to save their lives.
By 4 o'clock, I was completely exausted. I dosed off until the final patient I had to sit with came into the room. I was too tired to say anything, so for once, I just listened to what she had to say.
It was a lady somewhere in her 60's or early 70's. She came in with this rediculous smile on her face that said "I say I'm okay but I'm really not." And that's exactly what I thought it was until I saw her eyes. Her eyes were gleaming and I knew her smile was genuine. That woman had hope in her eyes and it made her whole face glow. Even in that awful place and even with all natural color flushed out of her face by the monster that is cancer, her face lit up like a little kid with ice cream. Even though it's not how the universe works,she was the type of person who should beat the odds and survive her inner battle.
She saw me sitting in the cornerof the room and said something that actually made me smile. Well, a grin at least. A real grin. An almost smile, which I didn't think I could do anymore.
She said, "Young man, I hope you know that I appreciate you."
Those ten words. That's all she had tosay, and I was staring at her as if I had known her for ages. She had myfull attention, and now, I didn't talk because I was too tired, but because I wanted to hear what she had to say.
She told me stories about her childhood and for a fewseconds, I think we both felt as if we weren't in a chemotherapy facility.I think she and I both felt like she was standing at theplate as one of life's biggest curve balls is thrown right into her strike zone. And here she is,still swinging her bat, still fighting.
After two hours of listening to her stories, she was released from her cancer killing juice and told thatshecould go home. As she walked out of the treatment room, she looked back at me and said, "You're a good man. Don't make the wrong choices. Just keep driving in the right lane of your life's highway and don't swerve left. Thank you for sitting with me., Mr. Burkhardt."
I dwelled on her words for the restofthe week, hoping I could do right by somebody and lead the life she told me to.
That was the night I vowed to takecare of my mom at all costs, hoping that would make up for all the time I'd spent in the left lane on my highway. But, that was also the night I vowed to never let anyone in, because I knew I'd been in the leftlane too long to ever fully get out of it.
I promised myself at a young age that I would abide by the only thing I remember my father saying to me before he left my mom and I. That was to treat my girl like a princess, because that's what she is.
And since I had vowed to never let anyone in, I would treat my mom like a queen, since she wasthe only person in my life who ever truly loved me.