When I was fourteen, I sat in the back of a school bus frantically trying to hide the fact that I was wearing the same cotton pantsuit for the third time that week. I felt as though everyone on that bus was laughing at me. I know now that they weren’t but my perspective was a hot mess. I felt like an outsider, a failure, a giant loser. I was not pretty or funny. I was not talented in any way. I was “just” smart.
I didn’t want to be smart. I wanted to be pretty. I wanted to be funny. I wanted to play varsity anything. I wanted to have a different outfit for every day of the week. That day on the bus, I had a realization that made my heart nearly stop.
I had four seemingly endless years of this rigamarole. Four years of torture. I almost couldn’t bare it. Some days my depression was so heavy, it physically caused my body to hurt–from head to toe. But in those days we didn’t talk about depression. Then something terrible happened to my family.
We were robbed.
In hindsight, I am grateful for that robbery every day. Not only did the burglars invade our home while we were out, they chose to break a window to get in.
That broken window nearly killed me and saved me at the same time.
My dad had taped a piece of cardboard inside the door to keep the wind out. There were still a few pieced of broken glasses attached to the jam.
A few weeks after the robbery, we got home from church. I jumped out ahead of the family. I wanted to get into the house and didn’t have my key so I reached my hand over a small shard of glass to push the cardboard through in order to ultimately get to the knob. My parents were just feet behind me. I should have waited.
I felt the warm blood before I felt the pain.
I just slit my wrist…by accident…maybe. I knew better than to do something so stupid. I never would have had the courage to actually slit my wrists but why?? What in the world possessed me to….?
It was bad. My father carried me to the car while my mother ran for a towel. With every beat of my heart a forceful gush of blood saturated the massive towel. I heard my mother scream. I felt my father shake as he floored the gas pedal.
With every beat of my heart and fresh blood spatter in the back of my father’s car, I felt my life leaving me.
I felt life leaving me.
Then I knew. My “accident” was caused by an impulse. One I regretted the instant it happened. I suddenly saw it. My life…in the future..in 10 and 20 and 30 years.
I saw glimpses of it. The life that passed before me was my future life. I saw graduation and college and medical school. I saw love and travels and laughter. I smelled my dad’s cologne and felt my mom’s hands smoothing my hair. I saw my sister’s massive grin and my aunt’s bright blue eyes. I tasted my Tayta’s fried fish.
And I wanted it. I wanted my life and it was slipping away from me. I cried but not from pain. I cried from sadness and the realization that I almost wanted this to happen. I had been so tired of living lately…
I don’t remember much more of the trip to the ER but I remember the hand surgeon that appeared at my side as I slipped in and out of consciousness. He was an angel. He unwrapped the bloody towel and a gush of blood spattered his glasses. He didn’t flinch. He smiled down at me.
“You are going to be ok.” He said.
Someone was pushing medicine into my other arm. Someone else put a really heavy warm blanket over me…it felt so good. I was so tired. I was tired of the night, and the day, and the months of pain. I closed my eyes. I trusted my surgeon. He had told me I would be ok.
It turns out he was not just talking about the surgery. He was talking about my life. Looking into his eyes, past the smear of my blood on his glasses, I knew that I belonged on this earth.
Thirty years have gone by. Life is still sometimes hectic and tiresome and overwhelming but it has been a beautiful gift. I have a huge scar over my right radial artery. Very few people in my life know about it. But I am telling YOU all now because that scar saves me every day. I see it. I touch it. I caress it. And I remember what I almost lost. I cherish that scar because it reminds me to cherish the husband, son, two daughters and this blessed life I almost didn’t have–the blessed life I almost lost.
To the teen out there reading this, I understand your pain. I understand how hard and overwhelming life seems but please don’t let a single moment of pain or impulse tell your life story. It is a story yet to be written. And, it will be better than you ever imagined. I promise you.