by Stephen Reid Andrews
All rights reserved in the author
Opening my eyes, I discover myself resting in the same hospital bed I woke up to after the dream of Jennifer in the white room.
My brother Trevor, looking older than I last saw him but similar to how I just saw him in my dream, is sitting across the room thumbing through a Sports Illustrated Magazine with LeBron James on the cover.
Trevor is wearing the exact clothes he was wearing in the dream. Wondering if I am still dreaming, I shake my head in disbelief. Confused, I also try to sit up, but I am unable to adjust my arms and legs because they are still strapped to the bed.
Suddenly, my brother looks up in the same manner in which he looked at me at the graveyard. I am definitely having one of those déjà vu moments.
Trevor promptly stands up and walks towards me with a half-smile on his face. “You gave me a scare there bro. We thought you might not wake up again.” With these words from Trevor I am certain I have lived this moment before.
Although I am puzzled and scared, the presence of my brother comforts me. “What happened?” I ask while still in a daze.
Trevor responds. “You had a seizure.”
“A seizure?” I question out loud. Since when do I have seizures? I think to myself.
“Yeah. I’m sure Dr. Jensen will be in to talk to you in just a minute. They’ve increased your dosage of Topamax, so, hopefully, your seizures will be under control,” Trevor explains as if having seizures is a normal part of everyone’s life.
I follow up with Trevor, trying to get as much information as possible. “Trevor, why am I having seizures, and how did you get so old?”
Awestruck, Trevor asks as he moves closer to me. “Don’t you remember?” He awkwardly leans over to examine me. “You were shot in the back of the head. The bullet barely missed ending your life, but it really messed you up.”
Casting my mind back, I remember the shooting, but I don’t remember being shot. I give Trevor a look to let him know that I am uncertain. “What do you mean?”
Trevor reaches out and touches my shoulder in an odd attempt to comfort me, an obvious look of concern on his face. “Dave, you’ve been asleep for ten months,” he says deliberately and cautiously but with conclusive intensity.
In complete disbelief, a pit of emotion swells in my chest. “What are you talking about?” I ask.
“You’ve been in a coma since the shooting.” He pauses for a moment apparently pondering the significance of his next words. “It’s been exactly ten months today since the shooting,” he says hesitantly as if he does not want to provide further information.
“Ten months,” I whisper as I close my eyes and put my head back on the uncomfortable pillow.
My mind rapidly files through all the lost time. I missed my twentieth birthday, I missed Jennifer’s twentieth birthday, I was supposed to start my junior year at the university, I have bills that are past due, debts to pay, and – I suddenly remember the headstone from my dream and think about my wife on the mall floor. Gruffly, I look at my brother with my eyes stretched as wide as they will open.
“Where’s Jennifer?!” I almost yell as every muscle in my body tightens and as I hope beyond hope that the dreams I’ve just had have nothing to do with reality.
My brother looks at me with an expression of unadulterated sadness. Somehow between my dreams, my memories, and the events of today, everything is coming together, and the tears form in my eyes before my brother can respond.
“Dave. I’m sorry. She didn’t make it,” he says as I see that he has tears in his eyes that mimic my own.
His look of despair does not comfort me at all, but I imagine he is unable to control his reaction.
“No!” I scream through sobs as I clench my fists.
Trevor moves a little closer to me with obvious concern. “David, calm down, or you might seize up again.”
Although the only person or thing I care about right now is Jennifer, at this statement from Trevor, I try to calm down because I don’t want to have another seizure, and I don’t want to have another dream. I simply want to cry.
Trevor is now sobbing almost as much as me. His sympathy for his older brother is admirable. He wraps his hands around my wrist and puts his head down. “Mom and Dad are on their way from
they should be here in just a few minutes. I was hoping they would be here to
tell you. I’m so sorry David….I’m so
sorry,” he concludes as the tears flow freely from both of us. Freeport
Dr. Jensen rushes into the room with one of the nurses – a different nurse this time – but I can hardly see him or the nurse through my tears.
“Is everything okay?” he asks as he enters the room. “Nurse Hansen heard a scream.”
Neither I nor my brother can respond immediately as we are both lost in our despondency. My brother, however, momentarily gathers himself enough to move away from the hospital bed and explain the situation to Dr. Jensen and the nurse.I remain oblivious to their conversation. All I can do is think about Jennifer and what has happened to her. I want to wail at the thought of having been unable to save her – of having been next to her for her last breath – of not having the opportunity to hold her one more time.