by Grace Turpin
The muffled voices of my mother and father fill the space in my hospital room. Room 113… the place I’ve called home for the past six months of my quickly deteriorating life.
I pry my heavy eyes open and find four concerned eyes meeting mine almost immediately.
“You’re awake, hi honey.” My mom whispers, sitting halfway on my bed and allowing for her cold, ringed fingers to caress my pale, sickly face.
I see the pity in her eyes when she looks at me. She looks at the body lying in this cold, hard bed and sees her dying, helpless daughter. She only sees me for what I am now, not what I was for the seventeen years before.
I was a happy kid. I was the girl who everyone loved. I had a smile that lit up whatever room I entered, and I had the ability to make everyone around me cry of laughter with just a few words. That version of me hasn’t come around in months though.
When my diagnosis was given to me, my parents accepted my death and buried me (mentally) at that exact moment. I wasn’t their all-star daughter from that moment forward. I became their worst living-nightmare and favorite charity case.
All I wanted was to be treated normal. I wanted to make the most out of the time I was given.
Despite my wishes, here we are now, six months post-diagnosis, which happens to be two months longer than I was expected to live, and we’re all still miserable as hell. Truthfully, I would have been better off dying the day I was diagnosed.
“What time is it?” I manage to mumble through squinted eyes and dry lips.
“Almost noon. How are you feeling? Tired? Do you need more medicine for the pain?” Mom rapid-fires questions at me, still stroking my face.
Of course she wants to pump me full of more drugs. “I’m fine.” I cough, adjusting myself in the bed and wincing in pain at the feel of the sheets on my tender skin.
“Honey! You need to be comfortable. Greg, call for the nurse.” My mother hisses, giving my father a demanding glare.
He rolls his eyes and wanders into the hall to flag down one of the nurses on the floor, all of whom know me well by this point in my stay.
One of the nurses enters the room with a phony smile smeared on her perfectly made-up face, “Miss Carson, how are you today? Your dad says you’re in pain.”
I give an eye-roll and sigh, “more drugs really are not necessary, Amy. My parents…” I pause and give both of my parents an unamused glare, “are just being annoying and overly dramatic, nothing new.”
Amy, the nurse, gives an understanding nod and nears the bed, checking my IV and monitors for no other reason than to please my parents. Majority of the nurses who work in close proximity with patients like me, teens with overbearing parents, understand usand have a bit of sympathy for us.
“Carson, we are just trying to look out for you! You don’t have to act so strong, you know… Your father and I understand.” My mother gushes, squeezing my hand tightly.
I swear its like she wants for me to throw in the towel and just die.
“That’d make your life a lot easier, huh?” I groan, my hand tugging away from hers and my eyes focusing on the sunshine and trees that live outside the large glass window. What I wouldn’t give to breathe that air…
“Carson, you stop that talk right now!” My mother snarks, seeming offended by it. “You know your father and I have gone above and beyond to make this whole thing as-“
I cut her off, “above and beyond? You threw me in a hospital bed six months ago and locked me in. I haven’t even had a chance at a normal life since I was diagnosed, mom. Did you ever ask yourself what I wanted? Because it damn sure wasn’t this.” Anger andweeks of pent-up frustration escape with my words. “All I wanted was to go about my normal, teenage life. I wanted to make the most of what time I had… Now, ha…” My voice trails off, hopeless.
Her shallow green eyes meet mine and the room falls quiet. I look to my father, who is spectating from the foot of my bed with arms over his chest. He bounces his eyes between my mother and I.
“I- we just-” my mother’s voice cracks and her hands tremble. A tear slips from the corner of her eye, and my father rushes to her side. Typical.
“Maybe we’ll take a minute.” My dad says, escorting my distraught mother from my room.
Amy, who just watched the drama unfold, looks to me with a soft gaze. I can’t tell if she’s afraid to speak and offend me, or if she genuinely doesn’t know what to say.
“I’m not some rude, mouthy teenager. Everything I said was true. The truth hurts.” I groan.
Amy nods her head and comes over to my bed, looking over my face carefully, “I admire your courage. Not many young girls would do what you just did.”
“I’m not all that courageous. I should have said it six months ago when they looked me in this box while I still had a chance to live.” I tell her. “I just wish it was over. I’ve wasted too much time, and now I have nothing left to give. My parents are in thefinal stages of grief and I’m not even dead.”
Amy’s hand finds mine on the blanket and she gives it a gentle squeeze, “ you’ve been through more than any seventeen year old should have to go through, Carson. Your parents don’t understand where you’re coming from because they haven’t lost what you have.They see all of this as losing their daughter. They don’t see what they’re doing, they don’t see it as taking away their daughters life before she has to go.”
I bite the inside of my cheek, thinking. Before I can respond, Amy gets called away by a nurse in the hallway.
All I want is a do-over. I want to rewind these past six months more than anything. I wouldn’t change the dying part, that I have accepted… I would change all the pieces in between.
Another cold night comes in the hospital and I watch the moon appear in the corner of the window of my room. My mother has been absent for most of the day, but my father came back and has been sitting quietly in his chair. I look over his exhausted face andreflect on the day.
I spent a lot of the day thinking about how I can somehow fix things. Not fix things with my mother, but fix things for myself. How can I have a totally new start? A new life to look forward to? How do I achieve a life outside of this box? The only logicalanswer I can come up with is giving in.
The fear of the unknown used to terrify me. Five months ago the thought would have never even crossed my mind, but now it sounds rather appealing to me. Even though I don’ know what will happen when it’s all over and I’m gone, I’m not afraid anymore. Anythingwould be better than how it is now. I’m ready to stop fighting the inevitable and give myself a second chance in a another life, wherever that may be.
“Tired?” I ask my father, noticing him dozing off. He smiles and snaps his eyes open. “You know you don’t have to stay here. Go home and sleep in your own bed, dad.” I push him.
“Your mom would have a fit. You know how she is, she insists that someone stay with you.” He babbles.
I roll my eyes and sigh, “you see? That’s what I mean. She thinks she knows what I need, but she isn’t the one dying. Please, go home… let me make one decision for myself, dad. Just this one.”
He contemplates my request and sighs hard. After several seconds of tense silence, he gives. “Alright, Carson. We’ll be back tomorrow morning. Your mother and I love you, we hope you know that.” He says, pushing his rough hand over my blonde hair and kissingmy forehead delicately.
“I know you do, and I love you both.” I remind him, giving a soft smile. “Tell mom to get some sleep too. Bye, dad.”
My dad kisses my forehead and leaves my room for the last time.
As my father disappears from my view I feel nothing but pure tranquility. Not a worry or pain existing anywhere in my cancer-littered body. I’d always imagined I’d feel some sort of guilt for giving in and letting the inevitable happen, but I don’t. I feelthe exact opposite. A surge of joy
and a sense of freedom overcomes me as I lay there and give in to the monster that has been trying to overpower me for months.
I’m free. I am free of all of the pitty, the pain, the frustration. I’m free to be the version of Carson I missed out on for six months. I’m free to start over.
Hello to a new beginning free of suffering. Hello to making choices for myself, by myself. Hello, Carson