I stared out the window. Snow was falling from the New York City sky. It was seven weeks later and my thirteenth birthday.
I felt like the snow was for me. I had been feeling rather depressed lately. I had been in rehab for a couple of weeks now. I was learning how to use my wheelchair, get in and out of bed, bathe, eat, get dressed, and some fun stuff too(which included piano. Surprisingly Daddy tried to talk me OUT of taking lessons). But no matter how hard I tried or how much determination I built up, I was still depressed. I couldn’t find the heaven in my accident no matter how hard I tried.
I flipped through one of my old art notebooks. I was going to take an art class that night and was feeling nostalgic. On one of the pages instead of a picture or drawing, it was a list.
Thirteen Things To Do Before Turning Thirteen
1. Visit Grandma and Grandpa in London, England
2. Go on a road trip
3. Visit New York City
4. Go to a dance with a date and everything
5. Be in a wedding party
6. Get my ears pierced
7. See snow!
8. Visit Washington D.C.
9. Learn how to ride a bike or skateboard
10. Break a bone
11. Get a job
12. Perform in a talent show
13. Make a BFF for life
I ripped the piece of paper out of the notebook and started to shred it. Tears started to pour out. Nowhere on that list did it say “Become Paraplegic!” or “Go to rehab!” But through my tear stained eyes I noticed something.
I had visited Grandpa and Grandma Baldwin on spring break. The night Momma and I drove to Florida could count as a road trip. I did way more than just visit New York City. I went to the Valentines’ Day Dance with Darcy. I had been in three weddings parties in less than a year. I got my ears pierced…against my will but still. I had got to see snow. I was seeing snow right then. Momma and I drove through Washington D.C. I learned how to both ride a bike and skateboard. I had broken my foot and my back…I had been a waitress at the B&B. I performed in the Christmas in July show. And Virginia, Regina, and even Emily were my best friends for life.
Tears started to pour down my face faster. I don’t even remember making the list, but I had done all the things on it. And in less than a year. I sighed. I opened the drawer of my desk and took out some tape. I was starting to repair the list when Daddy walked in the room.
“I know you’re about to have cake,” Daddy said placing a cupcake in front of me, “but it’s supposed to be one of the best cupcakes in New York City.”
I stared at him. A year ago I didn’t even know he existed. Three months ago I didn’t even want him in my life. And now seven weeks after a life changing event, I couldn’t imagine life without him. If Daddy hadn’t been here, I would probably still be in stage one of my learning.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Daddy asked.
“I was just thinking,” I said.
“Just thinking,” Daddy said in a goofy voice. I smiled and nodded. I handed him the list.
“What happened here?” Daddy asked as he read the list.
“I got angry,” I said.
“Why? Didn’t you do all these things?” Daddy asked.
“Yeah, I did them all,” I said, “but…”
“But what?” Daddy asked taking my psoriasis lotion out of my bag.
“I can’t find the heaven in my accident,” I finally said.
“The what?” Daddy asked as he rubbed the lotion in.
“The beauty. The meaning. I call it heaven,” I said. Daddy nodded.
“I mean what good can come out becoming paraplegic?” I asked.
“To tell you the truth, honey bear, I’m as in the dark about it as you, but I do know that in the end it will work out,” Daddy said screwing the lid back on the lotion. He dropped the bottle of lotion because his hands were trembling so much.
I smiled and couldn’t help but laugh. For the first week I was in the hospital, Daddy was a total wreck. He passed out a couple of times and had to change his shirt at least four times a day. He and Momma soon made up after Momma saw how real his fear of hospitals was. By the third week, he had gotten better, but when he saw a dead body…Now he just trembled a lot and rarely passed out. He got out of the hospital/rehab at least once a day. Sometimes he went to Central Park for fresh air. Sometimes he went to the apartment and took a nap in peace. And on special days like this, he brought me back something. I bit into the soft and moist cupcake. It was by far the best cupcake I’d ever had.
“You think it’s funny?” Daddy joked handing me the bottle of lotion so I could do my arms and neck.
“A little,” I smiled. Daddy returned the smile.
“I just noticed something,” I said looking at him.
“What?” He asked.
“You have dimples!” I shouted. “No wonder my mom likes you so much.”
I pictured my father’s face. He had dimples too.
Daddy laughed and shook his head.
“You’re just noticing that?” Daddy asked.
“Yeah,” I said sheepishly.
“Did you do your weights?” Daddy asked.
“Yes,” I mumbled. I hate lifting weights but it was necessary. I had to keep a strong upper body and lifting weights ‘fit’ me. But I couldn’t complain. My lung capacity had already expanded.
“Hide me!” Yule cried running into the room and locking the door.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“The nurses,” Yule said in a disgusted tone.
I laughed. Ever since we got here, the unmarried nurses and female doctors went crazy over Yule. Nicole, who helped me learn how to get dressed and feed myself, can’t stop talking about Yule during my learning time. It had gotten so bad that if I wasn’t almost finished with my course I would ask to switch teachers.
“Happy Birthday!” Noel shouted from the other side of the door. “Unlock, now!”
I rolled over to the door and unlocked the door.
Noel pushed in a cart full of flowers. There was also three very small present on the cart. Momma, Abby, Zach, Jaci, and Megan followed Noel into the room.
Momma looked overly tired, but the smile on her face seemed to wipe the sleepless nights away. Abby, who had recently started to wear maternity clothes, had a hint of frosting on her lips and I guessed that Daddy had brought her a cupcake too. My suspicion was answered when I noticed that Noel had a red tongue, Megan had frosting in her hair, Jaci still had a cupcake in her hand, and Momma well Momma just looked like someone who had just tasted the joy of a cupcake.
“So you told us that you wanted nothing for your birthday,” Momma said taking one of the little gifts off the cart. “But they were out of nothing at the story. Apparently they were out of nothing in Florida too since all these flowers or for you.”
Momma handed me the box.
“That’s from us,” Yule said. “Your siblings.”
I opened my box and inside it was a necklace that had my name on it. My name was surrounded by hearts.
“It’s beautiful,” I smiled. Yule put it on me.
“It’s low enough that it won’t choke you,” Yule said.
“I thought of the gift!” Noel said slowly. I opened my arms for a hug, and Noel squeezed me very tight.
“Almost lost you, sister,” Noel said. “Love ya.”
“I love you too,” I cried. Tears poured out of Noel’s eyes.
“And this is from me,” Daddy said handing me the one of the boxes. “Your mother and I couldn’t agree on what to get you so we got separate gifts.”
Momma smiled and shook her head.
Inside the box there was a ring. It had a heart on it and a tiny diamond was inside the heart. Inside the band it said “My daughter, my love.” It was my turn to be speechless. I soon found myself crying my eyes out.
“Do you not like?” Daddy asked with worry in his voice.
“I love it,” I cried. “I love you.”
Once again Daddy was speechless. We had come a long way in seven weeks. If it hadn’t been for the accident, we would probably still be bickering and fighting. Maybe that was the reason this had to happen. Something had to happen to get the fact that Daddy loved me through my head. In the past seven weeks, Daddy had done so much for me. He hated hospitals, yet he was there for me every day. That meant more to me than words could explain.
“I love you too,” Daddy finally managed to get out.
“Open my present!” Momma shouted like an excited child.
I took the little box from her hand and opened it. Inside there was a gold bracelet with my name on it.
“To match your necklace,” Momma said.
“Thank you,” I smiled.
Then we cut the cake, but everybody was full from the best cupcakes ever except Yule and Zach. They were saving their cupcakes for ‘later’.
It was the most sentimental birthday I’ve had so far. I’ve only taken my bracelet off once when the clasp broke. I wore my necklace and ring expect when I was sleeping and showering.
My life was now limited, but somehow it was just…better. I had a dad again. I had siblings! I had a family.
Now the only thing that would complete the year would be going home for Christmas.