Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BUS STOP by Margaret Westley

Over the years, people have asked me about my roommate who was with me when I was hit by the bus. "Well, whatever happened to her?" they ask, or hint about their interest in her whereabouts.

"She woke up screaming for almost two years," is the first thing I usually say, and then look away because sometimes I just don't know how to handle the look of shock, even though it’s been eight years now, and one would think I'd be used to it. To be honest, I don't think the concept of being used to having been hit by a bus will ever exist because every time I take a step, or my body tenses while trying to cross the street, I remember the accident.

My roommate told me about the nightmares several months after the bus. It wasn't until I called her two days into my hospitalization (or maybe she called me), that I asked (or perhaps she offered), if she wanted to come see me. She stopped by the hospital one afternoon and sat in the chair farthest away from my bed. It was difficult for me to keep my eyes open because of the pain, and the drugs that were being administered into my veins also contributed to my high level of fatigue.

Tired, I was very tired, but my body was more tired than my brain which became more alert the moment my roommate walked into the room. She sat still, very still, as I pushed the button on the right of my body which allowed me to sit up in bed without having to move a muscle. Over the course of my hospitalization, I learned to love this button.

"Be careful of the IV, Margaret," my mother warned, gently. Early on, whenever I moved, she kept a watchful eye and ever since my admittance, an hour didn't go by without me forgetting about the IV. If I suddenly moved my arm, the alarm would go off. Then the nurses on duty, or their aides, came running into my room.

I took my mother's advice because I didn't want the alarm to frighten my roommate even more than she already was. "Hey," I said weakly, "why are you all the way over there? Come closer!" My roommate obliged, drawing the chair closer to the foot of my bed. We talked for a little over half an hour, or until my eye lids started to drop and everyone knew I was tired. During our conversation she admitted she was afraid to come visit me sooner because she was sure I hated her for not pulling me out of harm's way. She thought I blamed her for being hit and the resulting injuries.

I didn't mean to, but when she told me this, I started laughing and then quickly added, "Are you serious? You saved my life!" And that she had.

Had she not tugged at the back of my black pea coat, the bus would have hit me in my head and I would have been killed.