"Nurse! Help! Somebody! Help me!" My sister's desperate cries mingled with the purging emotions of my terrorfied scream and the frantic alarms of the hospital monitors attached to me. My body thrashed about my bed as if trying to escape as the nurses came rushing in. "Excuse me ma'm, please move aside" she was instructed by one of them. "I need a push on the Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid NOW," a man's voice urgently interjected. My eyes searched wildly about in an attempt to assess the situation. "Is she seizing?" another voice asked. "I don't know", the man's voice began. "Let's see how the GABA works out and get some preliminary neuroimagining underway when she's settled down..."The meds they gave me had an intensly calming affect. I began to feel my muscles becoming less and less tense, the pain in my head subsiding and emotions welling. I felt like crying.
"Can you tell me what happened here?" The man's voice was directed at my sister now. She was stiffling sobs as she tried to answer him. "I...I don't know! I was j..j..j..just sitting o..on her bed...I was t..t..talking to her....that's it! Sh..sh..she started jerking a little, and, I..I.. I placed my hand o..o..on her forearm and sh..sh..she just started s...s...s..screaming! She was screaming and sh..sh..shaking...." She could no longer control the sobs and let them loose. The doctor tried to comfort her. "We think she may have had a slight seizure or maybe just a neuropathic event. I want to run some tests to be sure. She should be calm enough to get them underway shortly, okay?" "MmmmmHmmm," my sister sniffled. "You didn't do anything wrong'" he added. "Company and conversation is the best source of healing...I promise". My sister relectantly thanked him and he began giving directives to the remaining nurse for tests to be conducted on me.
I felt so helpless in that bed! Tears were pushing from my eyes...could they see them? I felt gentle hands on mine placing something over my wrists. "What's that for?" my sister jumped up now and was close to me, querying the nurse. "We have to put light restraints on her so she doesn't injure herself, pull out the I.V. or move during the testing." "You can't do that!" my sister ordered as I screamed the same in my brain. "She's phobic! Please!" my sister pleaded. "I'm not a threat to myself!" I tried to yell, but no sound came out of my mouth. I began to struggle to move, to let them know I could hear them, to show anyone that I was still there! But the medicine they gave me kept me motionless and I began to sob. "I'll be back in a few minutes to check in on her," the nurse said quietly. My sister slumped slowly onto the bed at my side. She cried for a while and then spoke to me. "Toni...I'm so sorry!" She was sad and sincere. I felt her hand brush through what hair wasn't held back by bandages. "Are...are you crying?" her voice trembled with amazement as she reverently wiped tears from my cheeks. She laughed and cried all at once. "You're gonna be okay," she offered. "Just hang in there...I'm here for you..." the words were like a lullaby to my soul and I drifted back to sleep as she continued on, the sound of her voice fading as I took to slumber.
The next time I was coherent, the only sound I could hear was the market news report from the t.v. in my room. I was alone. The reporters words fell on deaf ears as I began to think long and hard about my situation. I had to find a way to get better...to get out of that bed and on to the task of finding my attacker! I suddenly recalled her voice in my room....how long ago had that been? I thought about the conversation proceeding her visit. My dad knew her. My Godmother knew her. She knew me, my house....wait! Hadn't they said my Godmother was bringing my great -aunt to visit? I had heard the cold and calculating voice right after those remarks. It didn't make sense. Didn't she have to be at least fifty years old? I stiffend inside at my own recollection. My neighbor, Joseph had told me the same day I was attacked that an older lady had come by to see me at my house. Was it possible?
" Hi, Sweetie," a voice whispered to me. My thoughts were cut short as my mother entered the room.....my mother?! What was she doing here? I could feel her gazing upon me from where she stood. Nurses buzzed about me as she looked on, quietly. She had never been one much for words since she found the courage to leave my father all those years ago. She left her physical abuser and jumped into another horrible marriage.... one filled with verbal and emotional abuse. She lost the will to fight and we kids were forced to take the abuse beside her again. I hadn't had much of a relationship with her since I left her house. We had argued many times over at the fact that I believed that if she did not stop the abuse that she was a contributor to it. She stood firm in her God fearing ways and maintained that He would right all wrongs in His time. It was frustrating dealing with her stubborness and we remained in a stained, psudo-relationship ever since, my brother, sister and I making contact with her only by way of greeting cards and short, perfuntuary letters. She turned off the t.v. and the silence was uncomfortable. I knew her intentions for coming were good, but not being able to communicate with her, or anyone else for that matter, was highly frustrating.
She began whispering again, next to head of my bed. "I have a little something for you," she said. "It's just a picture of you as a young girl...I think around four or five. You had long black hair and were wearing you favorite purple dress with the white buttons. You were standing outside of your Grandma's...I mean, your house, waiving at someone...anyway, it makes me smile when I see it, so I thought I'd leave it here for you." She touched my hand briefly and left the room without another word. It had been over twelve years since I had laid eyes on her, but even as I ridiculed her past actions in my mind, I longed to look up at her face....my only memories of how she looked were from such a long time ago.
"It's funny how I managed to make amends with my dad and not her," I thought. But my dad had changed for the better. True forgiveness is possible if you open your heart and try to understand the situation from another person's point of view. He had apologized without making excuses for his behavior as a young father. My mother, on the other hand, found solice in her God instead of redemtion in the forgiveness of her children.
Nurses had been in and out of the room and were back attending to me again, poking, prodding, moving my legs around for blood circulation....it was all very proper and precise and made me even more determined to get myself out of bed. I allowed my mind to consider the almost absurd possibility of my great-aunt could be behind this. I tried to visualize the eyes, the face, the hands I saw so long ago there in the dark. I had never met her, so the possibility was there. But at her age? I kept mulling over these thoughts. I knew some pretty active, strong fifty year old women. Who else could it be? What would her motive have been? Why me? How would I even prove such a claim if I truley came to terms with this idea? One thing I knew for sure....this woman had been in my home and she had been in my hospital room. I would never forget that voice.... not ever!
"She's right in here," a friendly voice offered. A tuneful song was being hummed as a lady bustled around my room. I could hear her filling the vases of flowers with water and arranging the get-well cards and gifts. "What a shame..." she said. I felt her gaze upon me. "Hello, my child....it's me...your aunt Mary". My mind raced around in disbelief. Her voice was not harsh or menacing as I had remembered from that horrible night.....it was kind and loving. "I'm sorry it took me so long to get here to see you," she continued. 'I've just been so busy visiting with the family and tidying up your place....you know I'm staying in your house, don't you? Well, never you mind about a thing...." she prattled on as if she expected me to respond at some point. "Your Bedina had a new security system put in for you for when you return home,,,it's so marvelous! I'll show you how to work it when you're up and better. Oh! And has anyone told you? Your step sister is here! Yes, she came into town the same day as.....well, she's here, now, and what's important is that you two will get a chance to know eachother again! She's staying at the house, too, you know. I hope you don't mind....it's just with hotel costs being as high as they are, we all thought it would be better to huddle down together and save money. Plus, we can all help you out when you come home...." I hadn't seen my step sister, Alma, since she was ten. My dad and her mom, his second wife, divorced when she was young. My sister, Rosalind, and I had been searching for her on the internet for two years! How I wished she had come before this had all happened. "Oh, so many family members are here! Everyone sends their love and well wishes and we can't wait to have you up and about! There's Christina and Fransisca and Jenny..." these names were familiar to me.....but I had never met anyone she mentioned. They came down with me from Boston the day before...well, the day before you were injured, my dear. We all wanted to visit and it seemed like such a good time to come. I only wish we had had time to chat the day before! I have heard so many wonderful things about you! So, just you hurry up and get well, now! Oh! Look at the time! I have to be on my way, but I promise you I'll be back soon. I'll bring some of the girls by with me to visit...I can't remember which ones have come by already, but I'm sure they'll be happy to come by again! Take care of yourself!" She was gone as quickly as she came and I was left with nothing but the thought that my attacker was still out there, unknown, and possibly staying in my house!