"Do you think he'll make it, Doctor?"
"I'm sorry, I can't say for sure. This is nothing like anything we've seen before. His vitals all seem to be okay, he's on a respirator, but we're not entirely sure that he even needs one. We don't want to take him off just yet, but we may be able to do it at some point in the near future. He's healthy for the condition he's in, Mrs. Gregori. Everything is fine for the time being, except for the fact that he isn't waking up."
The voices woke me from the terrible nightmare I'd been having. I remembered getting ready for bed-- I had had a long day at work and I was incredibly tired, more so than usual. I remembered eating a quick dinner, and then brushing my teeth. I told myself I would shower in the morning, even though I knew I was essentially a walking pile of shit.
Other than that, I couldn't remember anything else from before my nightmare. My nightmare was about me, as are most of my other nightmares. I'd been dreaming that my life was hanging in the balance. I'd been in a car accident or something, I couldn't even remember the nightmare itself... I'd been critically injured, on life support, almost in death's grip.
I'd been dreaming that I had one foot in the grave, and that I was in a coma. My life was hanging in the balance, my fate in the hands of my family and the doctor taking care of my life.
I came to in a world no better than my nightmare. It was a world of darkness. I could hear everything, I could see nothing. I could feel everything, I could do nothing. I assumed my eyes were closed for some reason, but try as I might I couldn't do anything about it.
I knew I was lying down, that much I could sense. And I figured I was in a hospital or care home, but the reason was a complete mystery. I knew my family was there every once in a while, I could hear them talking, but it really bothered me that I couldn't see them or do anything to communicate with them.
I tried, I really did. But I quickly realized I was pretty much paralyzed. I tried talking, I tried moving, I tried everything... I couldn't move, I couldn't talk, I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't do anything.
I drifted in and out of consciousness--falling asleep, blacking out, however it's termed. I heard conversations every once in a while, but it tended to be quiet wherever I was. I usually had one visitor at a time, sometimes they would talk to me if they weren't napping or eating. Most of the time it was just an aimless diary like, one-sided conversation about their day or the episode of whatever television show they were into, but sometimes there would be a heartbreaking speech-- something truly from the heart, something that really made me want to cry those tears that make you heave just so you can breathe. But nothing ever happened.
I remembered one particular time, when my mom came to visit. She'd been there for some time already, just sitting in silence, but she started talking after a while. It started as pointless small talk, but the escalation of seriousness was much quicker than I would have predicted.
"Daniel? I don't know if you can hear me, but I just needed to talk to someone... Even if they don't talk back. I don't know if you're in there, and I don't know how you got so far lost in there, but I really want you to come back. I need you to come back. Children aren't supposed to die before their parents, Danny. I know you're not dead, but... You're just a shell at this point. I don't know how much longer we can keep going like this. I can't lose you. I can't bring myself to let you go. But the doctors have no idea what's wrong with you, they don't know where to even start looking for a solution... A cure... Anything to help you. And we can't afford the costs of your respirator, your hospital bills... The doctors won't let us take you home because they want to keep an eye on you. They want to monitor your condition and see what happens. They're using you, Danny... Oh God, I can't bear to see my boy go. Please, Danny... Please wake up..."
I could feel my emotions going all over the place. I never imagined I would hear my own mother so distraught, and I never even considered the possibility of her losing me. Yet with my own internal emotional roller coaster, I still couldn't shed a single tear.
It was much later that I heard them talking again. The doctors had come into my room for something concerning my parents. I knew it was something serious because the doctor's voice was different, more monotone in a way. They left the room and I could hear them discussing something out in the hallway, but no words could be made out even though I was focusing all of my attention on them.
I could hear my mom's voice cracking as she started crying, and I could hear the hitch in my dad's voice as he said something to the doctor. I assumed they had made some discovery with a none too bright outcome for me.
But assumptions aren't always right.
My parents came in after what felt like a few hours. I could hear my mom crying as she sat by my bed. I could feel the weight of my dad's hands on my bed as he leaned this way and that way, fidgeting like he always does when he doesn't know what to do with himself.
He finally sat on my bed and spoke up:
"Danny, I doubt I ever told you this enough, but I love you more than anything. I don't know what's wrong with you, I don't know where you've gone, and I don't know if you'll ever come back. I don't know if you can hear me, I don't even know if you're still in there at all. The doctors told us that there's nothing they can do anymore... They said they've never seen anything like you. We... We can't go on like this Dan. Jesus, I can't believe I'm saying this... Dan, we've done all we can do at this point. If you can hear me, do something, anything. Even breathing by yourself..."
I tried so hard...
His voice was slowly dying as he went on. I'd never heard my father so emotional.
"I am so sorry Danny... I, we, can't do any more. We can't afford this medical care, son. You're not okay and we can't do anything about it. You don't understand how much that hurts us. Please, come back, son."
I never wanted anything more than to show my parents, and the doctors, that I was alive.
I heard my mom get up and open the door. I heard my dad walk out. I heard some commotion outside. I felt my mom come back and hold my hand as she sat next to me. I heard the doctors come in, my father right behind them. I felt my mom shaking as sobs racked her body. I felt the respirator stop, I felt my lungs take in a single breath. I felt myself leaving. I felt my mom hugging me for the last time. I heard my dad crying as he watched me go.
I felt a single tear slip from my closed eye, every emotion enveloped in a single drop.
And then I was gone, my body literally just an empty shell on that hospital bed.
But some final decisions were meant to be questioned.
The realization of their decision set in, and my dad determined that he would not let me go so easily. Not without a fight. I watched from above as a defibrilator was brought in. I watched as my body convulsed. I watched as things got blurry and I watched as my surroundings turned back to black.
I opened my eyes.
My vantage point was from the hospital bed.
And the first thing I saw was my mother's face, filled with relief as her tears splattered onto my face and her arms wrapped themselves around me.