What Vanessa Taught Me

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Vanessa was the most amazing person I have ever met. She taught me what it was to live, and what it was to enjoy life – while you still can.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start from the beginning, from the very beginning.

It all started with my sister picking me up from school one day. That's a normal thing for me. Mum hardly ever has any time nowadays, and Dad, well, Dad's just Dad. So my sister usually picked me up. I think Mum paid her to do it. Overall, I couldn't wait until I could learn how to drive. Freedom at last, that time just wouldn't come fast enough.

I slid into the passenger seat and looked over at my sister in the diver's seat. She waved at me and I gave her a quick "Hi."

My sister and I didn't really talk much then. I kept to myself and she kept to herself. That's the way our sisterhood worked.

She pulled out of the school parking lot. I got out my ipod and turned it on while I put the earphones in my ears. I scrolled through my music until I found my I-am-so-totally-pissed-at-the-world music. I slouched down in the car seat content.

We drove along for a while until we came upon a red light. My sister took this opportunity to get out her cell phone and attempt to put in the ear bud while still watching if the light had changed.

The light turned green. My sister, still fumbling with her cell phone drove forwards.

My ipod changed to a particularly angry song. I should have taken that as a warning.

My sister glanced up quickly from her phone and then screamed. I stared at her and then slowly turned to look out my window.

One of those enormous Wal-mart Super Store trucks was driving down the street opposite us.

And it was headed straight for us.

I started at the truck trying to comprehend what was happening. I didn't get much time to comprehend it when the truck rammed into our car.

That's when I blacked out.

When I woke up I was lying in a bed. One of those beds with the stiff white sheets, for sure a hospital bed.

My head hurt and I rubbed it groaning a little bit. Then I realized that my right leg felt quite numb. I reached down to rub it just like I had rubbed my head. Only, there was a slight problem.

My leg wasn't there.

That's when I think I screamed bloody murder.

Nurses, doctors, my parents and my sister came rushing in to see what was wrong. I just started crying. No, this was not happening. This could not happen. I had just made the soccer team, now what? I could never go swimming again or chase my dog around the house or-or-or-it just wasn't fair.

"Oh honey," My father said. "Don't cry, you've very lucky you know. You could have lost your life."

Easy for you to say when you still have both legs I thought. And what about my sister, what happened to her?

Nothing. She was standing there looking down at me with a very strange look on her face. I don't think I ever hated her so much.

To make matters worst I had to stay at the hospital for a week so the doctors could make sure my leg was healing okay.

I was moved to another room where I met my new roommate. I was put into another of those stupid beds with the stiff white sheets and left there. My roommate's bed was on my left. Normally I would introduce myself, but right now, right now I didn't feel like talking to anyone.

I lay down and turned over so I faced away from my new roommate and started to cry – again. Life was not going the way I wanted it to.

"Hey, are you trying to sleep or something?" said a bouncy voice from behind me, my new roommate's voice.

I turned over again, but this time to face my roommate. I studied her, she was a pretty plain girl. Her sad long stringy brown hair fell all over the place and covered her like a it was taking over. But her eyes – her eyes were bright blue and shinny, like she knew a funny joke, but she wasn't going to share it with anyone else, because that would ruin it. "Um, not really – but I don't really want to talk, 'kay?"

The girl shrugged. "Okay. If that's what you want."

I turned over again and closed my eyes, only to hear "My name is Vanessa by the way."

I sat up and glared at the girl - Vanessa. "Yeah, that's great." I said, annoyed.

Vanessa cocked her head, which reminded me of my dog – the one I could never play with again. "What's your name?"

I sighed. Didn't this girl get I wanted to be left alone? "Holly." I turned over again. I was going to ignore Vanessa if I had to.

"That's a pretty name." said Vanessa. "You're really pretty too, you know that?"

"Hmmmm." was my response. Vanessa said nothing more and I fell into an uneasy sleep.

In the morning I was served the gross hospital food that the nurses always pretend is really good, but it really isn't.

Of course, Vanessa was talking again.

"I'm going tomorrow," she said in a odd voice. "I just thought you should know."

"Lucky" I said, "I'm still here for another week."

She paused. "But you'll be going home, right?"

"Uh, yeah. Aren't you?"

She looked uneasy. "No, I'm not."

"Where are you going to?" I asked.

"I – I don't really know."

I raised my eyebrow at here but didn't say anything. This girl was just too strange.

"You know" said Vanessa "You're really pretty."

I sighed. "You said last night. Anyways, I not, my zits won't go away."

"Who said I was talking about outer beauty?" she questioned.

I started at her.

"So," she said changing the subject. "What's wrong with you? I mean, why are you here?"

What a question. "I was in a car crash. I lost a leg."

"Oh," she paused. "That's stinks."

To say the least. "Yeah, I can't play sports anymore. It pretty much stinks."

"What sports do you like to play?" She asked.

"Well, I LIKED to play soccer. I just got on the team…but now…now I can't do anything."

"Sure you can." she said happily. "You can still do bunches of things. Think about it."

Our conversation stopped there when the nurse entered the room to tell Vanessa she needed to come and talk to the doctor. I realized that I didn't know "what was wrong" with her.

Vanessa didn't come back until just before we went to sleep.

As I started to fall asleep I heard Vanessa whisper "Just remember, you're beautiful and you can do anything you want to."

The next morning Vanessa was gone. I assumed she had left to go home before I had woken. I asked the nurse around lunch (if you could call it that) if Vanessa had gone home yet.

The nurse's face totally softened and said "Oh, she didn't tell you?"

"Well, she said she was going – I guess home." I answered.

The nurse sat on the edge of my bed. "She went to her home in the sky, to be at home with God. She's known for a month that today would be the day."

I just stared at the nurse with my mouth open. Vanessa knew that today was her day? How was that possible – when she had seemed so happy, just yesterday?

So what did Vanessa teach me? She taught me to believe. She taught me to be happy and make the best of everything. She taught me to live life to its fullest.

But most of all, she told me I was beautiful and I could do anything.

And she was right. Later that year I got one of those metal legs, one with a foot that could move and everything, and then I joined the soccer team. I played, and my team became city champs and I found myself on the front of the newspaper.

All I can say is thanks Vanessa. You told me I could do it, and I did.

If you're looking down on me right now, know that you changed my life forever. I will never be the same because of you. You changed me for good, and for the better.

Thanks so much.