Often times, words weave their way through my head and create this lineup of sentences for me to spew. Other times, I just start typing, and with every word I just wing the next word and do it all so impulsively. Right now it’s kind of a mixture of the two. But all of this is going to come together as I tell you a story that I hope tugs at your heart strings as much as it does mine.
In a beautiful city there was this adorable 6 year old girl named Isabel. She lived in California, but the city she resided in was very small. From the moment Isabel was born, her family realized she was a lot more gifted than the average Joe. Her mother called her Izzy, yet she never understood why, because she was proud to be known as who she really was: Isabel. By the start of kindergarten, Isabel had already learned how to read, getting awards from the state for her many accomplishments. Her mother always said “Izzy, my beautiful girl, don’t push yourself. You have an entire lifetime to do amazing things, so don’t let the stress get to you. If something is too overwhelming, baby you gotta find something that will let you play happily instead.” Isabel always rolled her eyes and laughed lightheartedly with her mother, because without even needing to say anything, her mother just knew she had the ambition of all those driven. Her drive was concerning sometimes because she knew she could do better so she spent every second that she had trying to get herself to be the best at anything and everything she wanted to do, but honestly, she was pretty much the most intelligent kid her age…in the entire state. If not half the US. If not the world. She was full of compassion and it bubbled around her as she hypnotized the world with her cute remarks and smart-alack comments. Everyone loved having her around because even if she was so brilliant, she was also super modest and so empathetic towards anyone. Everyone would always talk about her future – the brightness of it all. It’s like, everyone had stars as their future, but the earth’s sun seemed to be her own.
Although, the thing about Isabel, was she struggled with constant headaches. She never really went to the doctor because most doctors just brushed it off and said she was dehydrated or something simple, so they didn’t bother to look into it. Her mom was smarter than that, and was always so concerned about Izzy’s health. She drove herself for hours into research, and although the rest of her family just said she had a migraine disorder, her mom didn’t think it was fair that she had to deal with that pain. She wanted to do anything she possibly could to help her baby. The headaches started pretty early, however around when she was 5-6 it started becoming a serious problem. After doing a lot of research and finding reputable neurologists, primary care doctors, and a bunch of different specialists, they found the source of the headaches. Isabel struggled with glaucoma, which confused a lot of people because it’s very rare for someone her age to be dealing with that already! But I promise you, this was dire. Her age didn’t make it any less important…She wasn’t the girl who cried wolf, she was the patient little darling who unfortunately dealt with unbearable pain. There were a lot of interesting things about her brain and a lot of them were really foreign, not just because her age but how it was so advanced confused everyone because she didn’t even have any real formation of her frontal lobe. However, the pressure behind her eyes was starting to speed up and worsen at an alarming rate, and all these doctors scrambled to figure out what to do because there was a lot of quirky things about Isabel’s anatomy that made her hard to treat. Her mom never stopped fighting, but… Shortly before her Izzy turned 7, she and her friend were taking a walk to the library that was a short walk from their house. Izzy said she started feeling incredibly nauseous and faint, but was still kind and considerate to her friend and listened to her stories about Barbies and what not. Then all of the sudden, there was a ringing in her ear slowly thickening as she lost consciousness and dropped hard to the sidewalk.
By the time Isabel turned 8, she had been declared legally blind. She was homeschooled and taught braille which she, of course, caught on to very quickly. But what really concerned her mom is how depressed Izzy was day to day. She always would try to be positive as she sat with her mom by the window listening to the occasional rain pitter-patter. It was amazing how Izzy could find so much beauty in the world everyday even without the ability to see. She loved the feel of her silky-satin pajamas, and she imagined the soft pink lines that ran down. She liked to play a game where she tried to stay in between the lines of her gown as she ran her finger down the length of it, trying to match the vertical lines with her own strokes, although she never truly could tell if she was winning or not. But she still kept her spirits so high. She had this friend Sabrina that she would always play with, and Sabrina even taught Isabel how to braid her hair. She loved the feel of her friend’s/her own hair, and she always admired all the different textures the hair could create just by use of products and techniques. She really wanted to go to beauty school when she was older, but she had a crushing feeling of hopelessness thinking about things like that, now that she was blinded. There was this one day when Isabel thought she was doing a good job with her french braiding of Sabrina’s hair, until Sabrina winced and cried a little because she was pulling the hair too tight. Some of her hair was wrapped intricately around her newly pierced ears and Isabel knew that, so she was careful, but it still was uncomfortable for Sabrina. Isabel would practice braiding her own hair everyday and started getting hopelessly frustrated as she realized that she couldn’t learn this skill as quickly and decently as she used to learn any other skill. Actually, everything was harder for her now that she was blinded. Yes, she caught on with braille quite impressively, but as she grew older her depression worsened and slowed down the efficiency of her learning. She was also starting to forget a lot of things here and there, which was completely unlike her. She felt really numb and although she tried to keep her spirits up, it felt like the scene was fading away so quickly, as if she could feel the grayscale consuming the colors around her. It’s like she felt the wind and the air turn lifeless, leaving her alone with the things she created in her head. It wasn’t so bad, but it was worsening pretty horribly.
You know, she thought it was okay though, because for some reason Sabrina never wanted to stop being her friend. It was crazy how she started getting fits of anger and pain throughout her mind and her body as she entered her 9th year, yet still Sabrina had so much compassion. She had seen Isabel grow and she saw how she was slowly being consumed by her own depression, and even at the young age Sabrina just wanted Isabel to be okay. She would hug her and wait for the storm to end, and then Isabel would start to sob because she hated how she could put Sabrina through so much. She realized it must be hard for people to be friends with her when all she did was get worse everyday. It wasn’t just her mental health, either. A lot of her body was interestingly changing state as her bones slowly thinned and her blood started to clot little by little, just things making life seem even more…sad to her. It was so hard for everyone, and every night after tucking Isabel away for bed, she went to her room and cried all night because she wished she could help her daughter.
One day Isabel was sobbing in her room when Sabrina knocked on her door and let herself in. She tried offering Isabel a bunch of fun things to do but Isabel sat lifelessly and mustered up a small shrug, which Sabrina could see was really heart breaking. But she kept pushing her fun ideas, hoping that Isabel would omit to her life of crying into space and actually take her mind off of things. Isabel stood up very quickly and swiveled around, yelling at Sabrina. She would scream about how Sabrina was an idiot. She would say that she should take a hint. She would say she was annoying. It had never, ever been this bad between the two of them, and in the middle of Isabel’s rage Sabrina quickly walked towards the door. She was so completely shocked and hurt. She loved Isabel so much and just wanted her to have as good of a life as she did, and she did so much for her to try to make it so. But Isabel caught her by the wrist as she left her room, and twisted it until Sabrina was facing her. Sabrina screamed “Ow! You’re hurting me!” and all of the sudden that’s when the levy broke.. Isabel had lost everything. All she had left was basically to declare life bankruptcy. She didn’t know why she was taking out this anger on Sabrina, but maybe it was because all she ever wanted was her life back. As they grew up, Sabrina had surpassed Isabel in a lot of intellectual ways, and was healthy enough to hum Disney tunes while making herself a peanut butter and honey sandwich. It wasn’t fair it wasn’t fair. It’s not fair. Please, please, tell me why this is happening. Please tell me why I lost it all. Please tell me why I worsen when all I ever wanted was to be happy and good at my life. I guess that was my mistake. I was blessed with this beautiful gift of knowledge, but it wasn’t until after I was losing it all did I realize how precious that really was. It wasn’t just my life, but it was a very exceptional life in general. She had been luckier than eons before her, and yet she found herself in her hallway, maliciously grabbing Sabrina. So this is when the tears BURST out of her violently, and she couldn’t breathe after she kept choking on sob after scream after sob. She fell to the floor and couldn’t move any part of herself, so she just choked on her cries and started to fade out again. Sabrina panics and walks up to try to help her up, saying “Isabel please, Isabel please get up. Please get up Isabel”. Her voice became shaky. She reached down to touch the top of Isabel’s shoulder, and very very quick/reflexively Isabel swung a violent hand to try to gesture her to go away and to stay off of her. She heard a scream and then choked on her breath again as she tried to listen to what was happening, and all she heard was a loud THUD so loud that she felt all of it’s vibration on the floor. She panics and screams and cries because she realized they were standing near the top of the stairs, and thank god Sabrina didn’t fall down them, but she hit her head smack on the corner of the stair railing and split her head as she tripped backwards. She tumbled down the first couple of stairs and Isabel was breathing hard when she finally found Sabrina’s body and kept shaking her, telling her to wake up. But her hands… She felt the warm but coldish feeling of Sabrina’s blood pooling around her, and again, she screams and cries. It wasn’t until then that her mom finally ran out of the shower and it all had happened so fast but Isabel knew what she had done. She knew she had hurt Sabrina. She knew she hurt her bad. She kept violently shaking Sabrina to wake up but Sabrina wouldn’t. Her mom ran to Sabrina and went to look at the gash on her head, and the sight of it made her faint. Not because she was queesy, but because she knew how bad this gash was, she knew what was happening, and after all her studies she knew that a blow to the head that strong with a girl her age, Sabrina’s injuries were most likely fatal. So her mom started crying as she dialed 911, trying to stay conscious and also trying to grab Isabella with her other arm. She kicked and screamed and her mom silently sobbed behind her as she tried to pull Isabel away from Sabrina. She didn’t need this. She didn’t need to sit there and feel her friend die beneath her hands. Her mom doesn’t know what to do as they cried, and soon enough, the ambulance got there. Isabel had finally passed out from exhaustion. She was incredibly traumatized, as if being blind and feeling the death below her was even more traumatizing than if she had seen it. Maybe if she had seen it, she would’ve seen the blood on the stair rail and know it was an accident. She would’ve still blamed herself, but she saw that it was an accident. Except she didn’t, because all that kept playing in her head over and over were the screaming that was abruptly stopped short and replaced by a single thud. She kept feeling the vibration of the blow beneath her. She kept feeling Sabrina’s blood on her hands and feeling the bruise on her arm from when she swung and tripped Sabrina backwards. She felt all of that. She felt her own injuries, she felt faint, she finally felt so much. And miserably, she tilts her head to the sky, and feels such a wave of sorrow and full blown emotion as she realized that all her begging to feel something had finally come to fruition. She was so upset about being numb, but she didn’t realize until now that she had the power to fight that numbness. She had the power to lean the other way and join the side of struggling happiness, not hopeless depression. And with this final wave of emotion, as she finally fell to the ground, she had finally realized what had happened. Not just the incident with Sabrina, but everything. Everything went through her head and all she could think about was how people were going to see her. She wanted to beg them to please know that it was an accident, but the sad fact is, it doesn’t matter if it was an accident. Because it happened. The horrible, traumatizing events that lead up to this extremely horrible traumatizing event all happened. Every fit she threw, every day where she was cold to her mom because she was bitter from her handicap, every game Sabrina agreed to play with her even though Isabel sometimes tugged at her hair/newly pierced ears in a painful way. Everything that Sabrina sacrificed for her.
“So, what did you do after that? What happened when you woke up?” asked her psychologist.
Isabel sighed. “I don’t know.” She leaned her head up against the condensation-filmed window and felt the cold dampness that was so rare in California yet still seemed to exist this often. Maybe it was because her life was so grey. At the age of 14, she hadn’t been able to do much.
“I think I really blocked out a lot of it from my mind. All I ever do is relive my life and be constantly reminded, even by the slightest things, that I’m a monster.” her voice dropped as she felt the emotion again leave her soul.
“You’re not a monster, sweetie. You have had to deal with so much in your life, but I promise you. Please believe me. It was not your fault. You love Sabrina, you would never hurt her. You would never hurt her. It was an accident, it was horrible, but you can’t keep blaming yourself while I promise you nobody blames you.” I guess her words were somewhat comforting.
I feel numb.
But sometimes, I also feel this wave of relief/calm spread through my body like hot chocolate after a day sledding. In my mind I’m told it’s not my fault. In my mind, I’m told she loves me, and that I love her. In my mind, she’s still alive. Because when I feel the texture of a fishtail braid, or hear someone who’s laugh was cute like hers, I feel like I have my best friend back. Because what floods me is…her. Her. All those days we spent together, so close. Just because of an accident one day doesn’t mean the years of fun never happened. I always imagined Sabrina would have been quite beautiful at this point in life, and maybe I never would have gotten to visually see her again even if she were still alive, but…I can smile, because in my head I see her face. Her face at my age, not the young face from when I was 6. She looks at me, and she smiles. I feel like she hugs me. I’ve never felt this kind of love, but it exists stronger than anything I could imagine. So maybe she’s gone, but again and again in my head I hear her tell me, “It’s not your fault.” So I…smile, as a quiet tear runs down my cheek. And finally it’s like.. I can see my future. I can see my future even more intensely than anything I’ve actually ever literally “seen” before. It’s more real than anything that’s ever happened to me. Because all that’s left of those times is my memories, but right here and now, until the day I die, I’ll be creating new memories. And I know Sabrina is my guardian angel. So I take her hand, and I walk her down my path of life. I could feel her smile.
It’s a metaphor.