- Academic Departments
- Et al. Journal
- Volume VI: In My Own Words 2016/2017
- The Light Walk
The Light Walk
I lay breathing hard against the ivory-colored marble floor. One hand, limp and cold, rests intertwined with my thick, frizzy mane. The other grips the sides of my abdomen, trying desperately to crush away the discomfort. But it is to no avail. I remain for a while, unsure of the sudden attack my body has declared on me. I nurse my side from a roar to a quiet grumble and soon fall back to sleep. As the sun breaks through the waves of black transforming them to gold, the pain intensifies. It is a rough and growing twinge, as if a lowlife prowler had snuck upon me in silence and thrust a blade deep into my haunch. My mother finds me after breakfast, still curled weak like a child on the floor of the bathroom.
"Are you alright?" She asks me in a voice full of concern. It has now been days of continued suffering. I have not had anything to eat or drink in over forty eight hours. I just can't stand to.
"I'm okay." I lie through a withered tongue. My voice sounds like sandpaper rubbed over an imperfect wooden stool. "It just hasn't stopped hurting." She nods and moves to close the bathroom door behind her.
"If anything changes or gets worse let me know." I nod at her words and wrap a tiny blanket closer around my shivering form. Her footsteps trail away and I collapse hard back onto the lightly checkered surface. A short publication lays near my head but each time I try to pick it up, the pictures I can usually imagine escape me. Distracting myself is thwarted by the sheer intensity of the torment. In anguished defeat, I fold up a faded towel and lay my head alongside it, tears streaming down my face. As I lay there, I pray a dangerous prayer.
"Lord please take me. Stop the pain and just let me go. Please. Just let me die." I plead silently to God. I don't believe anything will happen. It never really has. I remain in this crumpled position for hours. The glow of the sun changes from its crisp, golden tint to the flowering red at the end of a tranquil day. I remain attached to the floor. I cry as silently as I can; afraid to let my mother hear her child broken on the cold tile and wishing for death.
Three Years After the Incident
The lights are dim surrounding the lower stage. The seats, each one colored and cramped together, are void of those who sat there moments ago. I glance around at the crowd bowed low around me. Every single one of them are crying. Many are collapsed with their heads pressed against the concrete floor. Others are shaking, overcome with grief. Friends and strangers alike are holding onto each other. I, myself, am amongst the sorrow. A fire roaring in my chest had propelled me from my seat and landed me square in the center of the wounded hearts. A joyful melody surrounds the stage, keeping all of us in its watchful eye. This is the second time I've been to this event and it succeeds in taking my breath away again. In my youth I would never have dared to come to anything like this. I used to think it was all a big lecture and a pity-party for the "sinners". But now I feel sorry for those who have never attended. We are all praying for one another as the preacher continues his message.
"God is here this Saturday night!" He shouts over the crowd. I hug friends and those I don't even know. Words of encouragement sound through the area,
"It's going to be okay."
"Don't worry you'll be alright."
"God loves you."
Even smiles are uplifting in this healing session. We are all encouraging each other in Christ at this FCA retreat. It is all truly magical.
The Incident: Day Four
My world explodes while everything is silent. A light breeze flows softly through the window like the touch of an angel's wing. The creaking of a bed every so often alerts the presence of my sister or brothers; fast asleep in their own worlds of inventive design. Everything is serene. That is, save for myself, who woke up gasping. The pain has suddenly solidified in my lower right side where it had been unstable before. I know with sudden clarity that a part of me is dying. I roll out to one side and collapse onto the floor, unable to stand. The clock's light illuminates 2:32am and follows my silhouette as I make my way out of the space. At first, I can not even will myself to my knees. I can only slink as a creature born of the night. I think in a moment, I can't die here, not in the middle of the floor where my family will find me. I begin to pray once again.
"Let me get to her room Lord. Let me wake her up." A warm jolt immediately covers my side and I am able to crawl. I don't really take notice however and simple continue on. I call quietly to my mom. My voice is almost inaudible but she wakes anyway. One look at my shaking body sends her into superhero mode. She half carries, half supports me into our sizable SUV and within minutes has my family ready to depart. I sink immediately into a daze and fall victim to confusion after I am buckled into place. At one point my siblings are clamoring into the backseat as I wail for us to drive. The next minute I am cackling madly; delirious with pain as I find every pothole we hit to be hilarious. We soon pull into the hospital parking lot and I misjudge my own strength getting down. I descend, spiraling, to the dirt. We enter the waiting room where the white plastered walls and colorful seats are unusually crowded with ill and injured at this hour. A nurse shows us a dark space and I succumb to my exhaustion. When I wake I find an able-bodied doctor with an amused expression sits inside my little nook. He speaks lightly to my mother who seems furious and gestures wildly. The walls are dark red save for a section the color of cider. My brothers and sister lay curled up on the floor near my bed and are watching a movie about an underdog race horse. A nurse with droopy glasses and an untidy bun stabs me with an IV and I am not longer able to remain conscious. I drift mercilessly in and out of awareness. I can't feel anything. The doctor and my mother are now arguing just out of my line of vision. I strain to hear the heated discussion as another wave of blackness consumes me.
"..........not a stomach bug! She has been on the floor crying for the last three days!"
"Ma'am please. This isn't that serious. Now I will ask you again, is there any possible way for her to be pregnant? Because in that case we can help her get through it. Other wise, we will be sending her home with..."
"SHE IS NOT PREGNANT! CHECK FOR AN APPENDICITIS NOW!"
"Alright ma'am, alright. We can send her in for an ultrasound but I seriously doubt it's what you think. In the extreme case that there is something, we need you to sign these forms for an emergency surgery and any...."
The conversation fades away as I sink into blissful darkness.
Four Years After the Incident
Warm water swirls up to my hips. The basin is a bit taller than my head with glass barriers to protect the audience from my splash when I go under. I can still taste the sweetness of the breadcrumbs soaked in grape liquid. My pastor, a thin man with flaming hair and a personality to match, is standing in the water beside me. The deacon is also there and is like the winter to Pastor PJ's summer. Deacon Scott is sturdy with black hair surrounding his head and around his upper lip. He is normally collected but shouts when necessary. They both say a few words about Baptism and praise my choice to follow through with it. My mother is in the pew crying. I roll my eyes with a smile as I recall what she had informed me in the ride over,
"I am not going to cry, are you kidding me?" My eyes move passed my mother to a group of teenagers sitting close by. They are all my friends. Some of them know Christ and some of them do not. This was intentional; for my own support as well as theirs. I smile at them, very grateful for their company. The pastor and deacon grip my shoulders. Pastor PJ raises his arm and says, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." And then they thrust me under the water. It feels refreshing and clean while bubbles surround me in the foggy water. I feel nothing short of pure joy. I pray that the ones who have never done this will somehow find their way to this river. I pray that they see the joy I feel in this light and wish for it too. I remember what my life was like before I came to this. It was certainly an interesting path, one full of tranquility but incredibly dark. I know this now and I never want to go back. I am pulled out of the water in a matter of seconds. The splash is flung in every direction and the lights of the church are momentarily blinding. The first thing I hear in my newly declared life is the sound of applause.
The Incident: Day Five
I jolt awake and look around my stay unsteadily. My mother is at my side and is gently shaking my shoulder. The smug doctor from a few hours ago is back and this time he looks ash white. Immediately, I know something has gone wrong with my ultrasound. He looks at me steadily but I can see the trace of panic in his hazel eyes.
"I'm afraid that our assumptions were correct." He tells me as my mother shoots him an irritated but wary glance. "Your appendix has ruptured inside your body. That is, exploded. It is leaking acid to your other organs and we need to get you into surgery now." I look at him in stunned silence but can only nod my head. The droopy nurse from earlier helps me to my feet and walks me to a restroom. She hands me a shiny hospital gown and then leaves me alone with my thoughts to get dressed. I gaze dejectedly at my own reflection in the mirror. A ghostly creature is fixated back on me. The figure has a lion's mane that is flung all about with a dull brown color to it; like a filter over a camera lense. Its eyes are shrunken in and swollen while the face has a gray tint that matches that of a corpse. The body is weak and pale; a spectral in fading skin. Its chest has fallen victim to the days without nourishment while the belly is swollen and warm to the touch. This is all caused by a monster lurking inside a cavern in my body. I do not recognise myself. I am a stranger, similarly to this gown I have just put on. It hugs my haunting frame weakly like an acquaintance you meet on a Sunday afternoon. A sudden knock on the door signals the entrance of the nurse again. She offers me words of comfort as a team of sturdy caretakers wheels a gurney into the room. She helps me lie down carefully on it, trying to avoid aggravating the beast. They wheel me out into the cream-colored hall. I am suddenly panicked.
"Where is my mom? Why isn't she here, coming with us?" The nurse looks at me with pity before forcing a smile onto her exhausted face.
"Don't worry. You'll see her after your surgery! She can't come with us though, I am sorry." She quickly looks away to avoid my pained expression. I look back down at my body, the one belonging to a stranger and I recall how it already looks dead. I think to my family as I am wheeled farther and farther away. I realise with heart-aching sadness, I never got to say goodbye.
We reached a dead end and the team wheels me into a cuboid, surgical room. I see silver knives with cords that are ready to be plugged into my form when I am asleep. Two male doctors covered in blue lift me onto the operating table. A girl places a breathing mask over my face.
"Now don't worry. Just breath this in and count to ten. You will be asleep and then we will be finished before you know it. Most people don't even make it to ten before they are asleep so just relax and breath." She says through her own blue face cover. The other doctors are preparing themselves for the surgery. They place white latex gloves over their hands and mess with a set of tools. I try to calm my rapidly-beating heart by doing as she says.
The air in the mask tastes stale. The female doctor looks down on me as I stare into the blindingly bright surgical lights. They are ready.
The white room is small. It is so bright in here. The heat from the gleam is so intense. I feel claustrophobic. I can't breath.
What if this is it? What if I don't wake up? What if something goes wrong here and now? What if I die?
I am afraid. I am so very afraid. I should never have prayed to God to end my life. He may actually answer my prayers this time. All I wanted was for the pain to stop.
I don't trust how this will end. Is God even on my side? Does He care at all?
It doesn't feel like God has ever helped me. Why would He do it now? I am going to die. But what if I go to Hell? To fire?
I suppose, in all reality, that is why we are afraid of the dark. Darkness is unknown. Heaven or Hell? Going into the dark isn't bad if you wake up on Earth. But if you don't? Well, I believe that is why, in this moment right here, I am not really afraid of going to sleep; of the dark. I am afraid of where I wake; the light.
Five Years After the Incident
"I just don't understand. Why do these things keep happening?" My friend sighs and falls back into her blue lawn chair. We are sitting beneath a vine-covered pergola in the back of my suburban house. The stars are shining brightly in this clear summer eve. They twinkle joyfully amongst the blackness of the night, off putting to the mood we are in. The blonde girl across from me has been here for a few hours. She's been telling me about a recent crush that has gone astray amongst a few other family and friend issues. My heart is full of sorrow at her stories. She has always seemed the strongest of the group but now her wall has fallen.
"It seems like the harder I try the more things keep going wrong. Maybe I should just give up." I take a closer look at her large blue eyes and see despondency reflected back. I need to say something quickly to raise her spirits. She can't give up. I think deeply in the silence that follows. When I was younger, I would have said something with a tongue of anger. I may have agreed with her and possibly insulted the subject of our conversation. But I am a different person now. Kindness and patience are what Jesus would want me to encourage. What would He want me to say? I decide to mention something my pastor once told me.
"You know, I've heard the more good you do, the harder the devil tries to hurt you. So, I suppose the better you are, the harder your life is going to be. I guess that means you are on the right track, huh?" I say with a weak grin. I'm not sure how she'll react. She sits still for a moment, reflecting on my words. She looks at me as the moon just starts to reveal its radiance across the land. She slowly breaks into a grin of her own. She chuckles a little, eyes brightening just like the stars.
"That...actually makes me feel a lot better. I'm okay. I'm on the right track with Heaven." My friend says this to me and we both smile wider. The darkness of the night cannot hide the light that shines between two friends in Christ.
The Incident Day Seven
"Excuse me? May I come in?" A voice sounds at my door. A gentleman, maybe in his thirties, enters my room. He is thin and lengthy with glasses sitting on the bridge of his nose. He is friendly, soft-spoken, and carries a worn Bible in hand. I set aside my lunch and turn the TV volume down. He comes over to the left side of my bed and sits gently. I was moved here after I awoke, confused and without clothing, in the middle of the ward hallway. I've been here for a few days now. The surgery was a success but the hospital needed to keep me to monitor my organs. Apparently the acid that leaked into my body was thoroughly cleaned up, but not before some damage was done. The nurses have had to pump antibiotics through my IV to keep any infection away. So now I am bedridden and at the mercy of anyone who wants to visit. Of course my family has been in and out continuously, but my best friend also came to see me as well as my soccer coach and his daughter. It was incredibly sweet of them to come and I enjoyed seeing the familiar faces. However, I have never met this new intruder before. The man is a traveling pastor as I discover quickly. He stays with me for a while, simply talking. I appreciate the company but soon grow bored and wish for him to leave.
"How are things going in school?" He asks me.
"They are alright." I reply.
"How is your family?"
"How is the pain?"
"Well that's good." He is content, if anything, and not surprised by my lack of communication. I don't believe he expected much from a thirteen year old.
"Do you mind if I pray for you?" He suddenly asks.
"What?" I gape. I didn't want to be preached at but this sounds different. He repeats,
"May I pray for you?" A little unsure, I slowly nod and take his hand. We bow our heads and he prays for me. He prays for my healing and life. He prays that I see God's love. When he finishes he shakes my hand.
"I hope everything gets better from here. Thank you for letting me enjoy your company." He stands and gathers his Bible. He makes his way toward the door and turns the handle to leave.
"Thank you." I quiety reply from my bed. He turns around momentarily and gives me a kind and knowing smile.
"You are very welcome."
I never saw that man again. All I know now is that God sent that man to help save me. After he left I turned the TV off and folded my hands again. It was an odd but interesting feeling to know a stranger could care like that. I followed his example and prayed.
"Lord, I am sorry for doubting you. If you could, please save me." In an instant, warmth like I had never felt before flooded my body. The soreness I had felt for days melted away. Tears poured from my face without any indication of why they started and when they would end. I remained in my bed crying and thanking God, for in that moment, I knew I was saved. I decided, from that point forward, I would help others and encourage them to see the same love that I had found. I know I will never be perfect, but I hope to succeeded in encouraging others. I will work for Him and try to continually walk the light walk.