By Ken Moffitt
The hospital room was gray, a grim color if there ever was one. A few pictures from the boy’s classmates hung on the walls, and more than a dozen “Get Well” cards stood on a nightstand by the bed. A TV hung in the corner of the room, and next to it sat a few chairs, where the boy’s parents had sat for many nights, watching and waiting for their son to show any sign that he knew they were there.
The boy lay on the bed with pillows holding his head upright, and a blanket pulled up to his chin. The nurses said sometimes at night he got cold, though he never said it. He never said anything, though one couldn’t in a coma such as his.
The door to the hospital room opened, and his parents walked in, slower than ever and with grim expressions on their faces. They pulled the chairs up to the side of the bed, and the boy’s mother grasped his hand tightly. It was ice cold.
“He hasn’t moved since last night,” said a voice behind them. It was a nurse. She hadn’t walked into the room, but just stood by the door waiting with a pained look on her face. “But he’s still breathing, and he’ll at least drink. It’s become harder for him to eat though.”
The parents, who had looked at the nurse, toward the sound of her voice, turned back to their son, and looked at his face. It bore no expression; the eyes were closed. The mother pushed his hair back and sighed.
“How’s he been doing besides that?”
“Okay, I guess. He seems helpless, though, not moving at the sound of his voice. He makes no notice of the things going on around him, but I’m sure he knows. The boy is smart, I bet he’s listening right now.” The father nodded, overcome. Tears began to roll down their faces.
“I’ll leave you three alone.” With that, the nurse left, closing the door and locking it behind her.
The mother moved back, a hand clasped to her mouth. “He’s so young. He shouldn’t have to go through this.”
“I know, honey, I know...”
For a long time the room was silent, the mom and dad just watching their son, hoping for any sign of movement. They stayed at his side for a while, watching and waiting, until the light outside the curtained windows began to fade. It was then that the father moved forward, and grasped the boy’s cold hand.
“Son, I know you can hear us, and I just want to tell you that we’ll always be here for you, no matter what else you may think. You need to know that we’ll never forget you. I know you can hear me, but you’re not talking. You are listening though. Son, your mother and I are proud of you and we love you. I don’t think you heard it enough, but now you’ll be hearing it a lot more.” It was silent again, and tears rushed out of the father’s eyes. “Son, I love you more than anything in the world, and I want you to know that I forgive you for everything you’ve done. I just want you to get through this...” He could not go on.
The mother took his place. “We’ll be here for you always, and don’t you think for one minute that we’re not. I know that we were gone a lot...but now we’ll be with you... Your father and I have made mistakes, and now is our time to make it up to you. We’ll never let you go, never turn away. You’re going to fight this, and we’re going to help you the whole way.” She could speak no more.
For another hour or so they sat in silence, tears forcing themselves out, and when there seemed like there were no more, the tears began again. At one point, the father slid out of his seat, kneeling at the foot of his son’s bed, and folded his hands.
“Father, I know you did this for a reason, and though I don’t know what that reason is, I believe in you. Please help my son recover from this, and help him to change. I love my son... please... I don’t want to lose him...”
He stood up, and beckoned his wife out of the room. The nurse came back and tried to feed the boy, but it was no use. She watched him, muttering, “You know, kid, there are a lot of people that care about you. We all just want you to get through this safely.” She watched, and the boy made no response to her words. She turned to leave, but heard the boy’s voice behind him. Whirling around, she noticed that the boy had moved his hand towards the place his father was just kneeling seconds before. He reached out weakly, and tried to form words.
“Da... ddd... daaa... dd.” The nurse smiled simply, then walked out of the room, shutting off the lights as she went by. In the hallway, she could be heard humming a soft tune, whistling slightly with a spring in her step.
The boy was on his way to recovery.