A Change Of Season (Chapter 5)
“A Change Of Season” (or “Death Becomes Her”)
I died on September 4, 2024 at 4:20pm in the Lenox Hill Hospital of New York City, New York.
“Baby, please wake up!” Kevin shouted as I lay in the hospital bed. My eyes would not open, my hands would not reach out to him, and my lips would not shape to form my words. I could only think of what to say, but not express it. He was a sweet man, and here I was letting him down. If only the doctors could work faster! This was New York, the fastest moving city in the world and it had already been an hour since that stupid taxi driver hit me. I should be awake by now. I should be holding Kevin in my arms and telling him everything was going to be okay, but no… he still sat by me, crying as I had never seen before. Occasionally, he would let out a scream of fear and anger. He was weeping even more so than when he shrunk my Galliano gown and I had made him cry myself. I could not stand to see him cry any longer. I felt my heart ripping as he clutched his chest. Suddenly, I heard the voice of my mother coming into my head. I could only imagine what she would say if she were in that hospital room.
“Summer- you have this wonderful man sitting here, crying over you. Do you realize how hard it is to find someone like that? You need to wake up right now and go home with my gorgeous son-in-law! C’mon- I will buy you a cup of coffee if you wake up right now! No? I’ll give you that yellow sweater you’ve always wanted.” She would shout at me, as if I had a hearing problem. My mother was a wonderful woman and had raised me with love and care, but when it came to common sense, sometimes she just did not have it.
It just figured that something like this would happen to me. Irony had always been a current theme in hilarious story known as ‘my life’. Now, irony might have been my undoing. 10 years of living in New York City and never being able to get a cab, and the one time I did not want one… it came right at me. Not only was I hit by a cab in the city in which taxis frequent the streets like locust, but I was hit while running back to work after taking a 2-hour lunch break. No doubt, at the same time Kevin was screaming out of sadness, Joan was at the office, screaming out of frustration with me. In the two years since Kevin and I were married, I had taken more days off than I had in the previous four years. I was constantly taking long lunches to visit Kevin at his office or shopping for our China pattern that I refused to buy during our first year as a married couple. Now, it had been 3 hours and Joan was probably at the point of drinking a diet coke with her secret stash of Absolut Limon.
I tried, again, to open my eyes or make use of my vocal chords, but nothing happened.
“Summer, please, can you hear me?” Kevin cried. I could not hear him. I felt him, though. Even in my unconscious state, I knew he was with me. It was less than a dream but more than reality. I envisioned him in all white, surrounded by clouds. He was asking me to come back to him. I wanted to. I wanted, more than anything, to be holding him, saying, “I will never leave you”. I could not speak as I wished. He began to cry. Tears fell down his cheeks. He cared for me more than any other man in my life did. The vision of white started fading. Now, my vision became black. I heard screaming; it was primitive and raw. It was Kevin. He was screaming for my life. He did not want to lose me after just marrying me months before. I felt like I was suffocating. I wanted to wake up; I wanted to jump off the hospital bed and calm him. I could not.
I began clawing at my dreams, trying desperately to break free of my constraints. ‘PLEASE, GOD, LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!” I was screaming but no one could hear me. My hands were bleeding from clawing at the darkness. I could feel the blood dripping onto my beautiful gown. My arms grew tired and I rested them. I lay deep in concentration. I needed to find a way out. Was there a way out? How could I find it? Just then, I saw it. I saw the light. Not the cheesy light you see in movies; something more. This light was…divine. I bathed in it like a warm summer rain, letting it cover me. I was warm. I was at peace. I was dead. I knew it. I was not freaking out or crying; I was happy. I closed my eyes and welcomed in the shooting rushes of pain in my chest.
I opened my eyes, not to see God, but to see Kevin leaning over me, crying. The doctors were wiping sweat off their brows in relief. The room was silent as Kevin tried to form his words into a coherent sentence. He could not. I leaned in and kissed my forehead as he always did when he apologized after a fight. I smiled as much as I could.
“You’re a lucky woman, Mrs. Harper. We thought you were…Gone” one of the doctors said as he left the room. Gone. I thought I was gone too. I saw the light, I felt the pain.
“Thank god for our reliable defibrillator” another doctor whispered to his co-worker. They were not pains of death, but of life.
I had died and was now living once again. I felt like Elizabeth Taylor, only… sane and there was no trace of Michael Jackson in the room. Still, I was so thankful I could see Kevin, who was now resting his head on my breast. He seemed to happy to have me back in his life. I was moved to tears; tears of both happiness and exasperation. I ran my fingers through Kev’s hair and tried my best to speak. No words could come from my mouth. How could I speak after what had happened? There were no words. Only silence. The silence was palpable. The only sound in the entire world at that moment was the faint beating of my heart. I had missed it.
My mother was another story. After taking a few moments of silence, she went on a rampage about how I never looked across the street as a child and as a result, I ended up dying. Classic. I knew she was using guilt to cover up the pain she was feeling, so I indulged her more so than I usually would. After she left, I asked the doctors if I could go home. After a thirty-minute conversation about seeing spots and whatnot, I convinced him that I was well enough to go home. Kevin and I packed up my belongings and went back to our penthouse.
I crawled into bed and wrapped my blanket around me tightly. A day in New York had never seemed so scary. I needed to be careful from now on. As I lied there, contemplating a new route to work, Kevin joined me in the bed. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed my neck. He seemed grateful to have this chance again. He and I still did not say a word, for we did not need one. All we needed that night was each other’s arms.
The next day, Kevin and I enlisted in a car service, to avoid having to walk anywhere. He was overprotective for a while after that, but things eventually calmed down. We went back to being newlyweds, completely lost in one another. It was nice to know I would be with him a lot longer than I had thought when I was in that hospital bed. I appreciated every touch and every kiss more so than ever before. I also stopped screening my mother’s phone calls, knowing fully well that every moment of criticism and sarcasm with her was to be cherished, no longer reviled.
Children grow, seasons change, and most sexy, single women eventually give up Gucci for a garter and get hitched. In this crazy, ever-changing world, it can seem hard to know when you are moving too fast. It took a cab and some defibrillators to get the message of “slow down” into my head. I guess you need to experience losing life in order to appreciate it for all it is worth. I know now that when I am moving too fast, I have Kevin to slow me down. I have my friends, family, co-workers. We all have those kind of guard-rails to help keep us from falling. All we need to do is remind ourselves that they are there. That is the good thing about death: it teaches you to appreciate life.
Less than a month after I died, a new life was beginning.
I was pregnant.