At fourteen I lay in a bed in an ICU unit, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to my abdomen. I had damage to my liver, a kidney, and had destroyed my gallbladder. Quite a bit of damage considering my choice of weapons. I didn’t know much about guns so, when choosing between two that were under my mom’s mattress, I had taken the 22 and left behind the 38 (with hollow point bullets). I remember being wheeled in to the ER and hearing a nurse say “it looks bad, and she’s only fourteen.” I remember wishing I could take it back but it was too late. I am a firm believer that none of us really wants to die. We just reach a point where the pain feels too great and there doesn’t seem to be another way to stop it.
In any case there I was in the unit, in critical condition. I was pretty much out of it, too out of it to know that in the bed next to me, separated by just a curtain, was a nineteen year old girl named Sandy. I would hear about her later. Sandy had kidney stones. Kidney Stones! No drama queen , seeking attention, or emotionally distraught teenager seeking a way to end her pain. Just this girl, who for whatever reason, found herself in ICU, fighting for her life, and lying next to a girl, who was throwing her life away.
I spent seven days in ICU before being moved to a regular room. It was then that I heard about Sandy and was told she had died. I remember my first thought was “God, you’re not even fair. I put myself here, she didn’t. Why did she die and I’m still here?”
I still don’t know “why”. All I know is that I am fifty years old and so many times through the years I have thought about this girl named Sandy. I have wondered what she would have done with her life. Maybe something miraculous. I had this strange feeling that I owed her something. Maybe because I got a second chance and she didn’t. I only know that even when I am at my lowest, when I wonder why I am here, when it seems so apparent that I suck at the whole process of this thing called life, I am always glad I chose the 22 and not the 38. And sometimes, little things make me think, like when my son joined the volunteer fire department in his senior year in high school because he said, “I just feel like I should be helping people, it feels good.” He is going to school to be a nurse. His mom became a nurse at forty-nine. I guess I’m a late bloomer, lol. I know it hurts, I still hurt sometimes, but I believe we all have a purpose. And you don’t have to find that purpose, just let it find you. Sorry for rambling.