It was all a blur. In the ambulance, I was terrified. They hooked her up to the heart rate monitor, and there was barely a pulse. They were pushing and prodding, probing, and tubing. It was one of the most intense situations I have ever been in. I may see someone die in my presence. Do I pray? I haven’t prayed in years.
We enter the ER drive-up for the ambulance, and I jump out. The EMT’s are racing against time to get her to a surgeon. They are almost positive there is internal bleeding, and she is not doing good at all. I am scared for the girl. We have no way of knowing who she is. Not yet anyway. They cut off her clothes and asked me to check her pockets in the ambulance. There was a gas receipt, $3.53 in money, a post-it with a phone number, and a bar tab receipt. She did wreak of alcohol, but I failed to notice among the chaos.
Nurses are asking me all kinds of questions I don’t know the answers to. I don’t even know why I’m here. I don’t know her, I did my civil duty, yet I can’t leave until I hear an update. I feel like her destiny is either going to reward my good deed, or make me feel like I didn’t do enough. Either way, I need to know.
The Dr. came out and said “She isn’t out of the woods yet. She had no internal bleeding, so she should be ok. She is stabilized and her leg was dislocated at the hip and the knee.” I wasn’t sure how to feel. I felt awful that this girl went through something so tragic, and we don’t even know her name. At least if someone knows your name, you have a better chance of being remembered. Devastating. My stomach is churning. I told the Dr. “thank you”, and he walked away.
I just sat there. In the waiting room. Waiting.She is in ICU and since I am not family I can’t go see my Jane Doe.
I fell asleep in the waiting room. Later I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a nurse waking me up to tell me “she is asking for the person who saved her life. You are the only one here”. I jumped up and asked for a restroom. I needed to wash my face real quick, as to not make her any more uncomfortable than she already is. The nurse leads me down the hallway, passing all of the rooms of existing patients. I hate that part of being in a hospital. I really shouldn’t be privy to the most private thing about people; their health. Or lack there of.
I’m ready to face her. I feel nervous, but I’m not sure why. The nurse leads me to her room and opens the door. She is hooked up on every available piece of skin, with every available piece of machinery. I’m not sure if her blood is really pumping by itself, or what. She’s injured, and bruised, but beautiful. In the most devastating way. She looks hopeless. Her eyes lack expression, and her face cannot show true emotion due to the morphine. I walk in and say “Well, hello there. You sure clean up nice.” She barely smiles, and reaches for my hand. I grab her hand and she grips it with all her strength. She doesn’t say a word, she just lets the tears run down her face silently without any other emotions. Broke my heart. I cried too.
Her leg is in a sling hanging above her bed. They realigned it but it just needs to heal. Almost every tendon is ripped and rebuilding is in the process. Her scapula was broken, and her dreams shattered. She hasn’t spoken a word, she is still holding my hand, so I ask her “what is your name?” She mutters something but I can barely understand her, much less hear her. She is drugged up so much trying to fight off the anesthesia and the morphine at once.
Her hair is red, not naturally, but pretty. She has green eyes. Part of her face is bandaged so I can’t really figure out the rest of her features. She is still gripping my hand. Almost as if she knew me. She falls asleep. Peacefully this time.
A nurse came in to check on her so I asked her if they were able to get her name yet. She said yes, and looked at her chart. Her name is Abby. She had no I.D. on her at the time, so they didn’t know until she told them. Funny, to me, she doesn’t look like an “Abby” from what I can see.
I sit in the chair they have placed next to her bed for me. I am exhausted. I just wanted to sit for a minute, then go home, but I fell asleep as soon as my muscles relaxed. I woke the next morning when the nurse brought in Abby’s breakfast. She is sitting slightly upright, her leg is out of the sling, while she is awake, and she seems to be awake, aware, and hungry. This is a good sign.
She speaks immediately saying “Good morning.” I replied with the same, and then there was a pause like we were waiting for each other to go first. She stated “Thank you for saving my life. It seems to be a trend with you.” I was puzzled by this. I asked “What do you mean?” She replied “You saved my life before. I know I look different, because I dyed my hair, and I am a little thinner than before. I told the hospital my name is Abby because I was scared. I didn’t want anyone to know who I was. I told the Dr. this morning my real name. It’s me, Rachel.” I squinted my eyes and dropped my head like I was trying to focus on something a mile away. I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe she was in my life….again. Someone or something beyond us definitely has a hand in this.
A little thinner was putting it mildly. She was half the size of when I saw her that night. Her face was sunk in, and her skin, almost translucent. As I was struggling with my disbelief of who she was, she continued to tell me “I have had two children. One boy and one girl. I’m a meth addict now, though, and I asked my family for help, but I didn’t get any. I am going to school, but I’m not getting anywhere. I am failing now, because every night I go, I always stop a friends and get drunk on the way home before going home to my kids. By the time I get to my grandmas, she watches them for me while I’m in school, they are in bed. I haven’t even gone to the last few classes. I just told my grandma I was going so I could go drink. I get drunk every other night while getting hyped up on meth when I get my hands on it. My life is in a downward spiral. This was no accident. It was my failed attempt at suicide. I don’t know what to do. I mean, look at my life right now. I almost died in a car wreck, and you, of all people, are the only one here. Where is my family? They have been called. They know I’m here.”
Poor, poor girl. From the moment she came into my life, to now, has been nothing but a battle for her. She doesn’t even have the will to live. How can someone pull out of that with no support. I’m at a loss. I don’t know what to say. Thankfully, or not, her grandmother finally arrives. She walks into the room, and looks at me, then at Rachel. She walks over to Rachel and said “Well I hope you learned your lesson.” I wanted to slap her. No hug. No words of love, or concern. “The Dr.’s say she will be fine. Glad you are here for her”, I said. The woman was ruthless. “If I had any questions about her health, I would ask her. Thank you for the update” she scowled. I wanted to hit her. I was thinking she should have asked her about her health years ago. Mental and physical. She asked for a few minutes alone with Rachel. I hesitated, but I had no right to say no.
When I saw her leave I went back in the room. Rachel was crying. Her grandmother really laid into her making her feel bad. I asked Rachel if she knew about her suicide attempt. Rachel said no. She was afraid to tell her.
A Dr. entered her room and picked up her chart and asked “How are you feeling?” She replied tired, and in some pain. He ordered more pain meds and put her leg back up in the sling for the rest of the day. Right before he left, he said she should be able to go home in a couple days. “Do I have to go home that soon? Can I stay a little longer? I don’t want to hurt my leg any worse than it already is” she begged. I knew it wasn’t because of her leg. She just didn’t want to go home. The Dr. replied “We’ll see how it goes.” He left.
The nurse has already given Rachel more pain meds and she is starting to doze off. I told her I was leaving and would come back tomorrow to visit. She said ok and went to sleep. I waited until I knew she was asleep and left my number by the phone with a note to call me if she needed to before I came back.
Well, I missed my appointment, again. I better call them, but not now. I would usually take the bus home, but I’m tired and just not in the mood to deal with other people right now. I call a cab. It takes about 15 minutes for the cab to get there. My head is pounding and I’m feeling pain in my legs. Must be from all the excitement and trying to get Rachel out of the car. My stomach is feeling queasy and all I want to do is lay down. I get in the cab, tell him my address, and we pull off. He asked “Rough night?” I replied with “To say the least.” My apartment is not that far from the hospital. I don’t know if the cab driver thought I was the sick one, or what, but for some reason he didn’t charge me for the ride. I tried to give him money, but he refused and said “This one’s on me. Pay it forward.” He smiled, and pulled away as I waved and thanked him.
As I walk up to my apartment, I hear a whimper in the bushes right out front. I look in the bushes and see a kitten. Her eyes are swollen, and she is covered in fleas. I used to have a cat, but she got hit by a car. I hesitate to do anything other than call animal control. I am just so fatigued at this point. I try to walk away and think I will call them from inside. Just as I opened the door, I hear the whimper again, and can’t resist trying to help. After all, I am supposed to pay it forward, right?
I pick her up. Her fur is matted, and she is frail. She purrs as I pick her up, but she is definitely injured. She is no more than 2 or 3 months old. She can’t walk, and she is shaking. I use my sweater to wrap her up in, and take her inside. I still have all my toys, food, and meds for my cat that died. I giver her a flea bath, feed her some food, and give her some water. I will take her to the pound tomorrow. After she eats, her and I fall asleep soundly on the couch.
I don’t wake until later that evening. I have completely messed up my sleeping schedule now, but I feel much better than earlier. I check my cell phone, and there are no missed calls. I hope this means Rachel was able to rest too. I wish I could help her. This girl has haunted my heart ever since I met her. I didn’t even get to tell her I met her mother. I wanted to find out how all of that panned out. I will ask her next time I see her.
Suddenly, I hear screaming coming from the upstairs apartment. I hear a man and his wife or girlfriend fighting. He is yelling at her telling her she is a stupid whore, and that she is worthless. She just cries. Next thing I know, I hear shattered glass, slamming doors, running, her screaming, and then BANG! A gunshot. I hear more running, and then nothing. I call the police.