Zada Boitano – “Wake me up”

“I, Sebastian King, am here today to tell you a story… my story. I was first born in Erly, Pennsylvania, a few years after my lovely sister, Amanda…” Sebastian gestured to his sister at the podium next to him, and she wiped a tear from her face and smiled slightly. “…At the age of twelve, I was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following a car accident that Amanda and I had been in. For sixteen years, I had lived with pain from agonizing migraines and stiff muscles that caused me to be in and out of a wheel chair. And finally two days after my twenty-eighth birthday I slipped into a coma that lasted seven years. Eventually, I woke up, but for days I laid paralyzed except for my fingers and eyes, unable to speak. After months of physical therapy I was finally able to keep living the life I was meant to. The day I was released from the hospital the doctor told my sister I was no longer in any pain, and this was very much true.”

Amanda walked into a room, it was colored with an off-white cream color, the one you would see in Downton Abbey, the kind of color that middle aged women aspire to have rooms in their home the color of but no one ever does. She touched the chilled body, and looked back at the nurse hinting for her to have some alone time with her brother. As soon as she did, Amanda sat on the bed and played with Sebastian’s hair. Tears streamed from her face.

She took a deep breath, allowing her to say “I miss you so much. Please come back to me.”

“Now, I know it’s crazy to believe but when I was in the coma, it was like my body was in one place, but my spirit was in another, I was somehow able to look down from the sky and watch every thing happen to me. Which is why my sister,” said Sebastian “has been my hero through all of this. She is the one that kept me fighting for my life. I thank her each and every day for being the big sister people dream about having. She is smart, gracious, kind, and a fighter.” herself. She came to visit me all the time while I was in the hospital. She would read my favorite section in the newspaper to me, comb my hair, and be there for me in my time of need. She fought for me when I couldn’t, and for this reason, my sister, Amanda is my hero.”

Sebastian wiped at his tear-filled eyes and looked over to his sister, she left the podium with swollen cheeks and eyes with streak marks down her face from her tears.

“Another person that was there for me during this, was my best friend Craig.” He joined him on stage, at the podium that Amanda once stood, took a deep breath and began to speak.

My best friend since I was six years old, who was there for me through thick and thin, whom I would never change or replace, the best friend who people could only dream of having as an acquaintance, this person was Craig. He sat next to my bed, he came once a week right after his job as a secretary maintenance company just down the road from the hospital where I stayed. He’d come in, tell me the latest news about our favorite sports team. Sometimes he and my sister would come together, not often though. I remember one time he came in, he and his girlfriend(Cindy) had just broken up after two years of being engaged, and eight years in total. I wanted jump up and hug him, comfort the closest thing I had to a brother. Let him know that I am still here.

“Sebastian, I thank you for our friendship, I will love you forever, brother.” Craig looked back at Sebastian and returned to his seat among the rest of Sebastian’s friends and family.

“I am thankful for each and everyday Craig,” Sebastian said as he sat down, and waited for him to respond, “Must not have heard me.” Thought Sebastian.

The next person to join me on stage was my mother. She is my night and shining armor, protected me from bullies, injuries, even when I was asleep. For the first few months she would come in daily, after that… every other day. I could tell she was hurting, I knew it was because she thought she had lost her first son a few years before she had me, and might lose me too. More than anything, I wish that I could give her a sign, that I love her, and will be with her soon.

At one point in time, I had a bad spell of seizures. I would have them frequently over the course of a few months, this was challenging for me because my family did jot visit me during this time, and this was when I needed them the most. I continued to be very sick and feared for my life. The look of concern on the doctors and nurses did not help. I feared that they might take me off of life support because I was doing so poorly. Like I did my freshman year of high school, the first time I had come back to school since the accident, we had meetings after meetings about my inability to keep up with the curriculum. My teachers would tell my parents, that because of the brain trauma, I was unable to work and keep up with the class. The only people that stayed loyal to me was my family. People who didn’t know me before the accident, treated me differently than others. I felt like an outsider no matter where I was, as long as they knew my secret. The feeling of being given up on, and eventually even my family had told me that the accident was no longer an excuse. I felt like I was living through high school again.

After months of needing to be revived every few days, dangerously low blood pressure, and the need for somebody to be constantly watching me, it all stopped. I had hit my lowest point, but I survived and just like magic I began to heal in a matter of days. I had more brain movement in the past three days than what I had had in the last three years. Somehow I was going to make it.

“The day I woke up, I was greeted by a bright light, as my eyes adjusted to my surroundings, I saw my mom, dad, best friend, and Amanda. They cried and hugged me and each other. The two weeks from when I woke up to now was pretty much a blur, but from what I remember was having a lot of different doctors do tests on me.

I looked down at the large group of people I had been talking to. I saw my mother sobbing and my sister ran to her side, also crying out. I understood how one might shed a few tears of joy, but many other people in the crowed were crying as well, as though they had lost someone. A cold stiff hand touched my shoulder, I turned around to find a man whom I had never seen before. It took a moment to seep in, but as memories, and stories sunk in, I understood that I was looking at my older brother, who had died years before I was born. Erin, looked at me with a sorrowful look and then it hit me like a wave. He took my hand and led me into the light that had been shining behind me the weeks I had been awake. As we stepped though, I was greeted with an abundance of joy, there was a gate not one-hundred feet away, draped with the most lovely of plants. We inched closer to it, and the most bazar things were surrounding me, I would look down and my self stepping on mounds of cotton candy, when I reached down to touch it, it would simply disappear into thin air, the way fog did when you ran into it on a cold winter morning. I took a breath in and smelled something unexplainably different to each individual. For me, I imagined the rocky shores of Greece, and you walk down the stone stairs, and are welcomed by crystal clear waters. It felt like Heaven. Erin led me through the gate, and up the stairs to an enchanting palace. There were small homes, and people wandering all about with wonder in their eyes. They looked at me and gave me sympathetic and bashful eyes, I blushed back speechless as I was overwhelmed with the beauty of my surroundings. I looked at Erin and he looked at me, we walked through a small back road and we entered one of the many small homes. He sat me down on a couch that felt like marshmallows.

He turned to me and said “Welcome to Heaven, brother.”
At first I was shocked but as Erin explained to me, that during the time that I was getting better, something happened and I went into cardiac arrest and the light I saw was the entrance to Heaven. That the reason I wouldn’t remember the two weeks before my speech, was the process of my soul leaving my body. When I “woke up” was really me dying, and when they were crying in the hospital hugging me, was them being there as I took my last breath. I didn’t understand this, because I believed that I really was interacting with them. Then he told me about my funeral. The time that I had been telling my story, was really my friends and family at my funeral. Erin left me to be alone and I cried and cried for hours.

“How could I be dead I thought, “How, why, this can’t be real” I though over and over again.

After I had been alone, and had time to think things over, Erin walked in. Without any thought, I got up and hugged him, this time he was warm against my skin and now we both cried. I had never met him, but somehow, I felt connected to him. He told me the story of when he had died at the age of six, after suffering an allergic reaction while being home alone. That he too, watched down on the paramedics trying to revive him, how Amanda, only two at the time cried to her mother and father. When they carried him away in a body bag, how he had been taken by an angel. For hours they talked, explained, and cried, but by the end they both found comfort in each other and Sebastian felt as safe as can be.

For the next few days, Erin led him around the city and introduced him to everyone they saw. And after time, his death became a little more bearable.

“I have been dead exactly 186 days” said Sebastian to Erin.
“I don’t know the math, since I died at six to figure out how many days I have been dead” joked Erin. The two acted like they had known each other for years.

“I have something to tell you” said Erin to Sebastian.
“I don’t know if it happened to you when you were alive, but it did to Amanda, Mom, and Dad. I waited to tell you, but… I think it’s time you know. After life, you can still visit earth and people who are alive.”
“How could you not tell me!”
“You took death much worse than others, I thought that it would be to much for you! I am so sorry!”
“I can’t believe you Erin! I could have seen my family again, said good bye! You took that away from me!”
“It’s not what you think!”
“Then explain.” Sebastian snapped.
“You can’t really talk or anything, all you are able to do is send messages and hope that they understand.”
“What do you mean?”

The first few years after I died, I would come back to earth much more often, but I would knock my favorite book off of a shelf, or slam my door, or leave trails to my favorite hideout in the garden.”
“So you haunted us?”
“Yes, but in a good way! I made my passing easier for you guys. Then when you came along, Mom and Dad became happier, and didn’t cry as much. So I stopped doing it as much. But whenever you hear maybe my name being called, or you happen to see a boy who looked just like me. That is me sending a message to you. And I will help you do the same.”

Erin led Sebastian back into the light, they appeared at the front door to his parent’s house. Sebastian felt so happy being back at his home.

“You must do this on your own, now.” Said Erin.

Sebastian nodded in a way to show his understanding. Erin strolled back into Heaven. Sebastian first peered into the window of their door. He took it all in, the couch he and his sister would watch movies from, the table they would spend hours coloring on, the chairs that their parents would read endless stories to them on.

He took a breath and walked in. Nobody was home, so he continues to walk through the house, he gazed into his room, still decorated, just the way he left it the day he had been in the car accident. In a way he was sort of surprised that his parents had not moved his things out, but also happy that they hadn’t said good bye to him just yet. He walked around his room and looked at everything he used to love. He saw his old blanket from when his grandparents gave it to him on his fourth birthday. Then he laid his eyes upon something very close to his heart. Then he finally understood what Erin had been explaining to him. He took the item and laid it on his bed. Now it was up to fate to give the message to his family.

After he had reminisce in his old home, he sat outside on the steps to the front door awaiting the arrival of his family, finally his mother and father stepped out of their car and walked towards the house. This was Sebastian’s cue to leave. He said his good byes and headed back into the light, knowing that they would get the message.

Back at his new home, in Heaven he sat with his new friend, and brother and waited to see their parent’s reaction.
“So what did you leave?” Asked Erin.
“You will have to wait and see.”

Mrs. King walked into her son’s room and ran to his bed, she picked up a card and began to cry, her husband, hearing her wails rushed to her side, where he to began to cry too. They spent the rest of the night curled up in Sebastian’s bed. They talked all night about their favorite memories, and everything and anything to help them move on. As they began to drift off to sleep, Mrs. King laid a card that Sebastian had written them after a big fight.

It read:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know I am mad at you right now, but I will always love you more than anything in the whole world. I am so thankful to have you in my life, and I am so lucky to call you my parents. I love you with my whole heart.

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