My fingertips seethe as they graze a rock's silhouette. The sun's rays whip loosely at my back. I'm so far down, but I've come so far.
I sit in my mother's lap, weaving her soft waves through my unsuspecting fingers. The seemingly eternal wait ends when white doors sway. "We've met a conclusion to your daughter's symptoms," an obscure face recites. "She has a chronic kidney illness known as Cystinosis…I am so sorry."
Muscles in my thigh quiver while checking the ledge's sturdiness. My knuckles turn white as my shoulder stretches beyond capability.
I lift my head from father's tear-stained shoulder. The doctor just left after announcing I will undergo surgery to prepare for dialysis. My kidneys have completely failed. They will now follow the commands of a machine.
The sun laughs when I loose footing on the surface beneath. In a rash lunge, my hand grabs a thorn-enveloped vine. Blood dribbles down my forearm.
"You have more understanding of life than anyone else your age." "Because I almost died? I'd rather be like a normal teenager and have normal problems…like what to wear for prom, or how to get out of a test. I can't tell you how sick I am of downing thirty pills a day. All the shots, blood tests, surgeries, and endless hospital appointments take everything from me! I CAN'T! I just can't do this anymore! I've missed so much school. I'm always behind and so stressed!" "I'm sure your teachers will understand," she reasons. "No one understands me!" My legs cave in and melt to the floor. I cradle my head, and scream at the world.
Alternating my position, I view what was left behind. Depth of the caliginous breach empties my lungs. I had been there for so long.
Running incredibly late for school, I toss a pair of pants to my bed in fear of punishment for the unkempt room. At a knock on the door, I open it to face my mother. "Hi mom, I was just-" At her expression, my unsaid words tumble.
"Elizabeth…you might want to sit down."
She tries to shroud it, but there is no mistaking her voice's tremor. My pulse pounds in my ears as I obey, knowing where this will lead.
"The hospital called…they…they have a kidney for you. If you want to go through with this, we have to leave now." My teeth clench. With sweat as glue, hair plasters itself to my forehead. My brows furrow in determination. I can do this. I can do this.
Like predators to their game, surgeons encompass my body. One signals at another, who takes my arm in their heedless hold. He plunges a needle in my bruised and broken vein. The slug of anesthetic spreads through my jaded body. Voices deteriorate; faces whirl; lights shadow, and I am lost.
Dirt lunges at my vulnerable eyes. I can't see. Something dives into my bloodstream and wrenches the thick walls of my heart.
I fear my reflection. It's not me. It can't be. I glance at my face again. Anti-rejection drugs have caused significant swelling in my face and rapid weight gain. I used to be pretty. I hate them, I hate them so much. And missing one dose could cut my life short.
I claw at the earth, beginning to slide; to sink; to plummet. "God!" I cry. "God, why? Why did you put me here? You chose the wrong person!"
I scour pages of my journal that weep with morbid words. On my shelf, anti-depressants taunt and jeer until I seize the bottle and pour them down my throat. Burning tears cascade down my face as I grab the journal and sever its sheets. They sail off like everyone I had counted on.
"I'm not strong enough!" My sobbing now knows no limits. I am empty. I have nothing left to give; nothing to hold on to. "God, where are you?" My wails choke me. "I'm here." I throw my head to the response. "Where?" "Beside you." It is startling to hear the voice so close. But it had never been far. When I see Him, I know this. His clothes are disheveled. Like mine. He's bleeding. Like me. With no words to portray visions in His infinite eyes, I can only stare. All I know is I'm in shock. Utter astonishment. For all this time, He has been climbing next to me.