Chapter 23


Her eyes fluttered open.  The sun was shining brightly and its rays burned her pupils. She blinked several times, squinting in the bright light.  Everything around her was blurry.  The room around her swam in twinkling circles and dancing lines.  She felt nauseous and her head hurt terribly.  Slowly, the room began to stop spinning and her vision became clearer.  She tried to move, to sit up, but her body would not do what her brain told it to.  Instead, she searched the room with her eyes.  It was very dull; the ceiling was an off-white color and the walls were the same.  On her left there was a whole network of machines.  She saw an IV and traced the cord with her eyes.  It went into her own arm.  She was in a hospital. 

Suddenly, the events of her last conscious moment came rushing back to her.  She saw the truck, she felt the blackness, she heard the sound of her car's horn, which she had hit in a last, desperate attempt to stop the inevitable.    And she vaguely recalled the period of time afterwards.  The words were all a blur, but the voices she knew well.  She was not sure how or why, but she knew them.  She tried to think how, to place the voice with a face, to remember what seemed to be just beyond her reach, but she was tired.  She closed her eyes.  All she wanted to do was sleep.

Just then, she heard the voices again.  She tried to listen to what they were saying, but found that she could not discern any words.  She heard the woman's voice, soft and comforting.  Then she heard the man's voice, gentle and calming.  There was another woman's voice, higher and pleasant.  There was a fourth voice she did not recognize, a woman's, deep with a slight drawl.  They drew nearer and she began to be able to distinguish some of their words.  One in particular struck her: "Shelly." 

Now, she heard the first woman's voice only a few feet away.  She felt a faint pressure being applied to her hand.  With great effort, she opened her leaden eyes.  The face before her was one she knew well, though she did not know why.  She took in the woman's features in an instant, her deep blue eyes, the gentle curve of her face, the sharpness of her cheekbones, her long blonde curls. 

At the sight of the girl's open eyes, an uncontrollable joy came flooding through Sara's body.  First, she looked shocked and then a huge smile spread across her face.  She looked into her daughter's eyes, one's that's depths had been hidden for so long.  They were darker than she remembered, and they seemed to pierce her very soul. 

"Peter!" she tried to shout, but it came out faint and airy.   "Oh my god, Peter.  She's awake!  She's awake!"  Bending down, Sara cupped Shelly's face in her hands.  "Shelly, Shelly, it's me, Mama."  Still holding her daughter's face, Sara turned and called over her shoulder.  "Christina, go get the nurse or Dr. Matthews or someone!"

Shelly saw the man now, as well.  She liked seeing the man and the woman.  There was a girl, too, with short blonde hair.  She seemed both extremely agitated and excited at the same time.  The sight of her made Shelly want to laugh out loud with delight.  They were speaking to her, but she was not sure what they were saying.  She heard words she recognized:  "Mama" and "Dad" and "Kimmy," but she was unable to place anything at the moment.  Yet she liked seeing them.  They made her feel safe, secure.  She tried to smile, but her muscles would not work right.  Her eyes were locked with the woman's.  She could not look away, and did not want to. 

Peter's gaze shifted from his wife to his daughter.  Kimberly was pacing around, her eyes never leaving Shelly for more than a few seconds.  Sara and Shelly held each other's eyes in a stare that seemed unbreakable.  Sara carefully brushed back Shelly's hair.  There was a large smiled on her face, yet tears were beginning to run down her cheeks, and she let out a sob, not a sorrowful one, but a relieved, joyous one.  Sara leaned down, kissing Shelly's cheeks, her tears running down onto them.

"My baby," she whispered,  "my baby.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you."

This was something she knew, something she remembered, yet, like everything else, she could not identify it with a specific name.  The warm, happy feeling that fills you all the way down to your toes.  The content feeling that you could wallow in forever.  Shelly loved that feeling.

But then there were more voices, more people, men and woman whose faces were foreign, whose voices seemed almost mechanical to Shelly.  Out of the corner of her eye, Shelly could see the man and the woman.  A man in a white coat was talking to them.  He seemed to be telling them news that they did not like.   The woman's face slowly changed from blissful to concerned to worried. 

The strangers were messing with the machinery next to Shelly.  She felt a pain in her arm and flinched.  She did not like these people; she did not like them messing with her, hurting her.  She wanted to see the kind woman again.

Looking around the room again, she spotted the girl talking frantically to a woman with thick ebony hair and holding a young girl.  She did not recognize the woman, but a word came into her mind at the sight of her: Christina.  She could not understand it.  Everything seemed so unclear, so almost there but just out of her reach.  It was like a puzzle.  She had all the pieces, but just could not figure out where they all went.  It made her frustrated and angry.  She wanted to know, but could not.

Sara clutched Peter's hand, her eyes fixated on her daughter.  This is only the beginning, she thought.  There's still a horrible struggle ahead.  Oh God, if only I could endure it for her!  Why does Shelly have to go through this?  What did she ever do to deserve this? 

Oh, but at least she was awake.  Screw what the doctors said, Shelly was awake!  They said that she probably would not know them, but Sara did not believe that.  If they had seen the way Shelly looked at her, with those heartbreakingly pained eyes that stared into your very soul, they would see that she knew her.  And they would know that everything would be all right, everything would work out.   They would go through Hell and back, but in the end it would all be fine. 

If there was only one thing Sara had learned through this whole ordeal, it was to never lose hope.  Hope is what keeps us going.  It is what gives us the strength to live.  Faith, hope, and love, the three things one must never be without.  Sara felt at peace because she had these.   She had faith that God would bring them through this.  She had hope that Shelly would be all right, that they all would be all right.  And she had love, the greatest of all these virtues.  She had love for her family, love of all those who were working to heal Shelly and all those who were being supportive.  And best of all, she had a surprising love of life. 

She wrapped her arms around her husband and laid her head against his shoulder.  They would survive this.  Their family had survived so much already.  How could they not survive this too?

Kimberly felt like she should be happy.  She was happy, but at the same time she was terrified.  Terrified that it still was not over. 

Please, God, she's made it this far…let her live, she prayed, fervently.  If it be Your will, please just let her make it….

She wanted Shelly to know that she had changed, that she was different.  She wanted her to see how things had changed in their family, how things were better.  She wanted her to live, so she could keep writing, get married, have babies.  She just wanted her to live. 

 Christina felt such a joy that Shelly had awoken from her coma.  She could not imagine losing her daughter, or even having Molly be in the situation Shelly was in.  She admired Sara's courage.  It also made her happy to see a tragic situation that might be resolved well.  Since she was seven years old, her faith in the world of medicine had been limited.  Doctor's had not been able to save her father, and of course, there was nothing they could have done to help David.  If she had had to witness another death…Christina had felt a wave of depression close by for the entire time she was there.  With Shelly's awakening, it did not seem near as close.  Christina kissed Molly's head, keeping her lips pressed against her daughter's head, silently praying that she would never lose her.

Shelly was so tired.  There was a sharp pain in her head and she had no control over her body.  She could not move.  She closed her eyes, wanting nothing more than to sleep. 

As she lay there, hearing the gentle, humming murmur of the machine's and the different tones and inflictions of the voices around her a single word popped into her mind: Love.  And the miraculous thing was, she knew what it meant.  It was that feeling she had felt for the woman, the feeling that had radiated from the woman and pierced her own heart, with a strange, sharp tenderness.

And then she realized that the woman was not just any woman.  It was her mother.  She loved her mother and her mother loved her.  Suddenly content, Shelly drifted back to sleep.

We'll be okay, Sara thought.  We have each other and we have love.  She smiled.  And that's all you really need.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."

I Corinthians 13:13

The End.

Author's Note:  Well, that's it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If I can get enough inspiration, there will be a sequel.  If anyone has any suggestions or plot ideas for it, please email me.  It would be MUCH appreciated.

Thank you so much for taking time to read my story.  I sincerely hope you enjoyed it.  Good-bye!