I poked around at the carrots on my dinner tray, reflecting on the conversation Ryanne and I had earlier.
I spoke with her for awhile, and listened as she explained the road she had taken that led her to where she was today. Looking at her, I couldn’t have imagined the dark past she’d experienced. She looked young, and sweet. I imagined her working at an ice cream shop or Petland. Not recruiting girls from jail to join her rehab program.
At first I was hesitant to speak with her, I had been on a mission to find drugs. My foot had been tapping wildly under the table and my mind was elsewhere through most of our conversation. Her mouth was moving, words were coming out, but I wasn’t processing a thing. Until she said something that caught me by surprise. “You hate God, don’t you?”
My foot stopped tapping and my eyes focused on hers. “What did you say?”
“You resent him, and don’t believe he is real. I can see it in your eyes, and that’s okay. If I may ask, did you lose someone close to you?” she said, leaning forward and placing her hand on my forearm.
Images of my mother began flipping through my mind like a photo album. Memories played in my head like a movie I wasn’t prepared to watch. Her laughing, her smiling, her dancing around with me in the kitchen, lip-synching to ZZ Top. Her getting sick, withering away, breathing her last breath….
I tried to push the memories away, because each heartbreaking scene made my stomach turn. My mom’s bright blue eyes flashed in my mind for a moment and I felt a rogue tear fall from my eye. My hand flew up to wipe it, hoping she didn’t notice. I could feel my chin quivering as I tried to keep the flood gates from bursting. I hadn’t yet grieved for my Mom, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to start today.
I looked down at the floor, trying to avoid eye contact. “It’s okay to be sad, you know. You don’t need to tell me what’s going on, but you need to know that it’s okay to feel, it’s a good thing”.
I didn’t respond.
“I want to share something with you, and then I have to go” she said, glancing at her watch. “I lost my mom. I was very angry at God for taking her, but I have learned so much about God, and the miracles he performs daily. I now realize that he didn’t ‘take’ her. She is in a place more beautiful than you and I could begin to imagine and I know in my heart we will see each other again, and it will be beautiful.”
“I know that when I leave here, your feelings for God will be the same as when I came,” she continued, “but I think it would be really great if you came and lived with us, and gave yourself the chance to learn about him and see first-hand how amazing he truly is. I don’t think it was a coincidence that you were basically waiting at the door for me. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that today was the day we were approved to come here. God arranged this meeting, and I hope you will consider giving him a chance.”
I replayed our encounter over and over again in my head. For some reason, for the first time in my life, the urge to get high just – went away. It went away on it’s own. Anytime I wanted to get high in the past, the moment the thought entered my head, I did whatever it took to get my drugs. And I mean…Whatever it took. I’ll spare you the gory details, but lets just say that stealing razors from the dollar store and shaving in the car to “prepare”, on my way to my drug dealers house – was not uncommon.
“Earth to Tiffany” Sarah said, waving her hand in front of my face. “You were somewhere far away just now, I’ve been trying to get your attention.”
“I’m sorry, I was. I just have a lot on my mind. I have to find a way to get ahold of my attorney, I think I want to go to Leap of Faith rehab. Anyway what were you saying?” I asked, realizing I had been completely oblivious to the fact she was even next to me, let alone talking.
“I saaaaaaaid, are you gonna eat your bread pudding, dinner is almost over and you haven’t eaten anything. You know they will make you throw it away and I don’t want it to go to waste” she said, pulling it off my plate before I could even respond.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked as she took a bite.
“What?” she said, her mouth full.
“Do you believe in God, like, do you think there is such a thing?”
“Oh definitely. I mean, there’s some stuff that doesn’t make sense like; okay for example: A guy lived in a whales stomach for a few days? C’mon. Or, or some guy was just chillin by a bush and all of a sudden it caught on fire and started talking to him?”
“Right” I nodded, agreeing that it sounded preposterous.
“So what I have chosen to do, is take the things that do make sense, and focus on them. If I get too wrapped up in the things that sound crazy, my faith will go out the window comp–“
All the sudden I felt sick. Nauseas. I felt my body begin to sway slightly as I raised my eyebrows trying to focus on Sarah as she spoke. She must have noticed something was off, because she stopped mid-sentence. She asked if I was okay, but her words came out slow and slurred.
I reach out to grab something, anything, and all I could grasp was air. I felt my eyes roll back into my head and then everything suddenly went – black.
When my eyes fluttered open, I was shocked by searing pain all over every inch of my body. My muscles felt like they had just been through a marathon, and my neck was aching like it had whenever I had slept on it wrong. F***, what the hell?
I slowly reached up to my face and my arm felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. I wiped away the drool surrounding my mouth and squinted my eyes as they adjusted to the light. I was moving. Down a hallway. I glanced down and realized I was in a wheelchair.
“She’s awake!” someone behind me said, and as I turned to face them I realized she had a look of serious concern. “You okay, Johnson?” Deputy Cane asked as she walked briskly beside my wheelchair. I opened my mouth to speak, but didn’t have the energy. “It’s okay, just relax”.
I was exhausted, and I had no clue what the hell was happening. “Did….I…..Faint?” I managed to muster. I had fainted plenty of times in the past, but it had never felt like this. “What’s going on?”.
The wheelchair stopped abruptly, and Deputy Cane crouched down in front of me to look into my eyes. I could feel them rolling back into my head and I tried desperately to focus on her face. Something was wrong. “Johnson, look at me for a second, can you look at me?” It hurt to breath. I wanted to lay down and sleep, I needed to rest. I stared blankly at where I felt her eyes should be, but it was as if my muscles weren’t listening to my brain.
Suddenly I felt my eyes roll back and the last thing I heard was “Aw, f***. Here we go agai–“.
I came to on the cold concrete floor. I could see the wheelchair I had just been sitting in off to the side. I was surrounded by deputies and medical personnel, and instantly began crying. F*** my body hurt so bad. It felt as if I had been punched in the head 20 times. I reached my hand to the back of my skull and the nurse taking my pulse yelled “No don’t do tha–“…Too late. I pulled my hand down in front of my face and realized it was covered in blood.
Panic rose up within me and I rolled over to my side to see the floor where I’d been lying, it was covered in blood and hair. “What the he–” I stopped midsentence because my tongue was on fire. I was sobbing by this point and the sobbing itself was excruciating. The nurse could tell I was having a nervous breakdown, because she pulled my close and gently hugged me.
“Shhhhhhh. Shhhhhh…It’s alright, relax. You have to stay still. Okay, you are injured. You had a couple of seizures honey, okay.”
“Wha–” I tried to scream. Electric pain inside my mouth vibrated through every cell of my body. I screamed in response, another shot of unbearable pain radiating from my mouth. Seizures? I’d never had a f***ing seizure a day in my life, that’s impossible.
“Sweetie, please don’t speak, okay? You have a very large gash in the back of your head, you are probably going to need stitches. And…You must have bitten your tongue, because it’s only hanging on by a thread”…