t was a simple question: “How do you feel today, Sweetie?” my mother asked me. I had just come downstairs.
I hesitated, searching for the right word.
She waited patiently, as she’d been doing all week.
There are personal characteristics I take pride in and always have, such as physical health, creativity, and acquired (well, maybe forced) patience. Most of all, though, my wit is what’s given me the most pride. Being called “witty” is a compliment I’ve had the pleasure to receive and enjoy on many occasions. Conversation is important to me. Looks fade, as we all eventually realize, but having a sharp mind, being able to converse intelligently and swiftly—that to me is part of life’s right stuff.
But I haven’t been so sharp in recent weeks. My mind is a dull knife, a cracked egg, and I struggle for words. They’re in there somewhere, but it’s as if they’re stuck in a honey pot whose stickiness I have to fish through to retrieve just a few. Writing these few words takes hours.
“I’m okay,” I tell my mother finally. Easy answer.
She’s been with me since the accident. Since the man pulling the big trailer with his big truck plowed into my little Volvo on a freeway near Seattle. Since my “bell was rung” and my concussed brain slowed and my mind was filled with thick honey.
In the ambulance, I wanted nothing more than to close my eyes and sleep, but they wouldn’t let me. It seemed there were countless questions, some easier to understand than others and a few that sounded entirely alien. I couldn’t even see the paperwork I was asked to sign through blurry eyes, so they pointed and I scribbled something with my trembling hand.
The pain in my head raged on.
Police officers, doctors, firefighters, and family all wanted to know what had happened. I tried to describe sequences, events, pain, but where were all of my words? And why couldn’t I simply sleep?
My mother fixes me plain yogurt with fresh fruit, and I eat a little bit. She tells me I should eat more. Afterward I shower and soak my sore, bruised body in warm water, hoping that warmth will relax my muscles and help with the pain.
In the shower, I struggle remembering if I’d washed my body already. I can’t tilt my head back properly to wash my hair. The pain stops me. All this drives me to tears and my head pounds even more relentlessly.
I’m told it will get better, and it does — slowly. Days turn into a month and so on. I try to sleep and rest as I’ve been told to do. I struggle to write little bits at a time, and read. But mostly — and here’s the ending no one wants to read, and Hollywood wouldn’t buy — I wait.