When I Woke Up — Inspired by Marianne Badongen

Make sure you check out the other 5 stories from this week…The TimpanistPlaying DebussyFarmboy SoldierThe Break and No Going Back. And vote on Sunday for the week’s best story idea!

Today’s story idea comes from Marianne Badongen. Marianne has been my dear friend for 16 years. I had the honor of traveling to The Philippines to stand in her wedding. She is a missionary and is living the life that we always knew was suited for her! I’m so proud of my lovely friend! Here’s Marianne’s idea…

“Woman age 36 is in a diving accident and is in a coma 2 years. She finally wakes up and tries to fit in her famiy again. Married with 2 teenage daughters.”

When I woke up it was a miracle. For so long I was trapped in my body. It felt like I was buried. I could hear voices. Doctors, nurses. But I couldn’t tell them that I was inside, aware. I was alive.

But that afternoon I opened my eyes. There were lights overhead. I couldn’t move my head for all the tubes and wires secured around me. I heard footsteps. My breathing became rapid. Fear gripped me.

The nurse looked into my face. Drew closer. I blinked. It startled her.

I was the miracle of the hospital. News crews came to film interviews with me and my family. They recorded me in rehabilitation learning to walk again. Took shots of me talking to my husband. A book publisher offered me a hundred thousand dollars for my story.

A woman is in a coma for two years after a closed head injury. A dive gone wrong. Two years of sleep for me. Two years of agony for my family.

But, in all truth, when I woke up I didn’t remember having a family. When my husband came to visit, the nurses would have to remind me that he wasn’t a doctor.

“Darlene, your husband is here to see you, honey,” Nurse Cherri would say. “Your husband Roger. You remember him.”

Roger brought pictures of the house, my girls, our lives together. It was like looking through a stranger’s photo album.

“This is Margie. She’s 16 now,” he said, pointing a girl in one of the pictures. “The other one there is April. She’s 14.”

“And who are they?” I had asked.

“Our daughters.”

“Right. I’m sorry. I’m having the hardest time remembering everything.”

“It’s okay, Dar. You’ll get it.”

“But I’m coming home. Right? You’ll have me at that house.”

“We will. It’s our house, honey.”

“Why don’t Margie and April come to see me?”

“They’re in school. That’s all. Just busy at school.”

Two months after I woke up, I was released from the hospital. Roger drove me in a mini-van that I didn’t remember. He told me that it had been mine. He pulled into the driveway of a house I’d only seen in pictures.

“I’m scared,” I said. “What if the girls don’t like me?”

Roger had laughed. “How could they not like you? You’re their mom. It just might take a little warming up. They’re a little freaked out by all of this.”

“What does that mean?”

“Nothing. Just…welcome home.”

He helped me walk up the steps on the front porch. There was a pot with a dead plant inside. I’d wondered if it was one that went neglected while I was in a coma.

“Those were your marigolds. You loved marigolds. Do you remember that?”

“No. Why would I have liked them?”

“You just did.” He held my hand. “You always had strange taste in things.”

We walked inside.

One of the girls looked at me and went into a room, closing the door. The other girl was no where to be seen.

“I wanted to meet them,” I’d said. “You know, try to build a relationship.”

“How about we have a pizza delivered. That’ll bring the girls out of their rooms.”

Margie and April sat on the couch, eating the pizza in silence, looking at me.

“What are you girls learning at school?” I asked, not knowing what else to say to them.

They looked at one another and confused.

“It’s summer, Darlene. No school in the summer,” Roger told me.

“Silly me. I guess I’ve just been in a coma for the last two years. Remembering the seasons is a little much for me right now.” I tried to poke fun at myself. No one laughed.

That was how it was. For weeks. Roger would go to work and leave me home with the girls all day. When they weren’t in their rooms, they were staring at me.

“Margie, April can I talk with you, please?” I asked after a month. “I made brownies.

I had learned that food would bring them out of their rooms.

“Sure,” Margie said. “Is there ice cream?”

I served them large bowls of warm brownies and melty ice cream. The stuff their faces. And, of course, stared at me.

“Can I ask you both a few questions? I’m trying to figure out what life was like, you know, before.”

“I guess,” April said.

“Well, what did you call me?”

“Just ‘mom’.” Margie.

“Well, then, feel free to call me that now.” I ate a small bite of my brownie. “How did I live for two years without this?”

“I know, right?” April smiled. But then went back to being sullen. “It’s weird that  you’re here.”

“It is?” I tried not to show my hurt.

“Yeah. We didn’t think you’d be back. Not ever.”

“April, no more. You remember what Dad said,” Margie whispered.

“What kinds of things did I cook?” I asked, changing the subject.

They giggled. The first time I’d heard that.

“Mom, you never cooked,” Margie said. “If you did, the smoke detectors would go off!”

We sat for hours. They told me all about myself. My favorite color. Yellow. My best friend. Lori from down the street. I loved watching soap operas and reading romance novels. Two things I couldn’t imagine myself ever enjoying.

“Oh! And you used to blog a lot.” April opened the laptop. “Like, you used to write things about work and us for everybody to read.”

“I’m a writer?”

“No. Not really. You just wrote stuff.” Margie explained what she meant. “Here maybe if you read this you’ll remember something.”

I read late into the evening. Even after Roger came home. I learned that I was a very loud, happy person.  My stories made me laugh and cry. But I still couldn’t remember a thing.

Then I found the latest of the posts. Written by Roger.

“Please pray. There’s been a terrible accident. Darlene is in a coma. She may not survive the night,” the blog read.

Another day, “Dar’s still sleeping. I sure do wish she’d wake up. The girls are too scared to visit her anymore. With all the breathing machines and heart monitors and catheters, well, I can’t say I blame them.”

Yet another, “I don’t know how long I’m supposed to live like this. I can’t see her like this anymore.”

Then one written three days before I woke up, “We’ve signed the papers. In a week we’ll remove life support. It’s going to kill me. I feel like I’m making a decision to have my wife murdered. Or put down like a dog. This is the worst day of my life. Today I stopped believing that God loves me.”

Could it have been true? Were they going to let me die? My heart broke. Not because of the decision. But for how painful it had been for them. For Roger, Margie and April.

The last entry. The day after I came home. “She’s different now. Quieter. Confused. She doesn’t remember anything. But I don’t care. God is good and I know He cares! My Darling Darlene is alive and awake. She’s here and she’s still my love. I just have to relearn how to love her better. And she no longer loves marigolds. I couldn’t be happier.”

I was loved. I was a miracle.

The bedroom was dark. Roger snored loudly. Yet another new thing to me. I stumbled over his work boots and landed in bed.

“You okay, Dar?” he asked, waking.

“Yes,” I answered.

My head nestled on his shoulder with his arms wrapped around me felt familiar.

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