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We Each Have A Story To Tell

by Rebecca A Hyde Gonzales about a month ago in humanity
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This is Just One of Mine

I have been governed by one principle for as long as I can remember: and that is to always be truthful. Even at the risk of losing something, I still remain true to this in my life. My father once said of me that I see things in black and white and that I express my thoughts, feelings, and ideas without a hidden agenda - often expecting the same of others.

Apparently, this is a rare quality and most do not understand; creating a divide that I can not cross. It seems that I am standing on the precipice once again; looking across a deep chasm where those I wish to associate with are far out of reach - all because of truth.

On March 2, 2020, during a creative writing class, the professor asked the students the following questions:

  • If you knew that your time left on earth was coming to a close, what is the one thing you would absolutely have to do? Why?
  • Who would you take with you? Why?
  • How would you leave your mark?
  • In response to those questions I wrote the following:

    My time is near for another adventure - One where my life should have meant something. I feel the sun on my face, as I watch it set for me; possibly one last time. I hope I still have time to do so many things I haven't done yet. Backpacking across Europe remains on my list. I wish I could still do that; with someone who would want to see Europe too. I think I want to spend a year there, exploring space and nature.

    Maybe I'll paint the Italian sky - you know, the light is different there. Maybe, I'll spend time at a Sicilian Vineyard, learning how to grow grapes, and then learning how to make wine. Maybe, I'll create a label; leaving something of myself behind.

    I would like to explore so many places, like Stone Henge; the Louvre, Kensignton Palace, and Westminster Abbey. Maybe, I'd take you; the you that is most important to me; the you that fills my soul with light. Maybe, I'll leave this life as you hold me. We'll be watching the Meditteranean sunset; with me cradled in your arms.

    But, what will I be leaving? Have I made a difference? Will I be remembered after I'm gone? Will you remember me?

    I'll remember you; the spark of life that you've given me. I will cherish it and protect it. I still have time. I will leave my mark.

    Photo by Martijn Vonk on Unsplash

    In the spirit of full disclosure; the questions asked on March 2nd, were my questions. I was hoping and looking for answers that might help me to answer these same questions for myself. Pouring over my peers' responses, I searched for phrases, lines, or even just a single word that spoke to me. And then, I read them again, and again. As I wrote the phrases down, it occurred to me that these may be responses to some of the things that I wrote that day.

    One of the most significant lines was: "It's time to speak your truth." And then another stood out prompting me to begin "[writing] letters to those I love." So I wrote my first letter that night; speaking the truth and sharing a tiny bit of my story with the recipient, who received the letter the next day.

    Why is this important?

    We each have a story to tell. In fact, we have many concurrent stories in our lives, and we can choose the ones we wish to tell. One of my stories is the reason for the questions asked. And within that story, there are even more stories that contribute to my life's story.

    I was a senior in high school, and on this particular day, it was a Friday, and it was raining. I had not attended an early morning class, so I had to find my own way to school. If I could have seen into the future, I would not have hopped on the bike - I would have walked to school. I didn't mind the rain; in fact, I enjoyed it and didn't care that I was going to be soaked to the bone when I arrived at school - besides, I kept an extra set of clothes in my locker and would change once I got to school.

    Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

    I was at the edge of the school grounds when I realized I was no longer on my bike. Things moved slowly and fast at the same time, and I was puzzled and confused at that moment right before my back cracked across the curb next to the road. I felt a searing pain that traveled like lightning from my lower back and down my legs. My head struck the concrete and my neck snapped. I don't remember much else. I do know that the driver never stopped.

    Since that day, the pain has been my constant companion. The stories tied to this first include subsequent falls and trauma to my neck and back; resulting in continuous unabated pain. In the fall of 2017, the neuro surgeon recommended that I schedule surgery to slow the rapid deterioration of my spine. I persuaded him to allow me to work on becoming stronger and fit before I agreed to the surgery. He cautioned me that I needed to pay attention and keep an eye out for specific neurological symptoms, including weakness in my legs and changes in my gait. However, I could keep these at bay if I continued to exercise and lost the excess weight.

    In the spring of 2018, I returned to school because what I really wanted to do before I had surgery was to complete my education. At a minimum, I wanted to earn my Bachelor's Degree in Literature. There have been a few roadblocks in this pursuit, including the ongoing issues with my back. I have had cancer, requiring surgery, as well as infusion treatments. Complicating the existing damage to my spine; I now have a mass near the injury site; causing an increase in the frequency and intensity of my pain and neuropathy.

    I am often faced with the harsh reality of my weakness and mortality and the series of events that began in high school has set me on a course that I cannot change. However, there are things that I can do now. There are individuals that have become important to me and I have pursued friendships so that I could leave my mark; a little piece of me with them. Something that would be meaningful and have a purpose.

    I have been separated from some of these individuals, including the recipient of the first letter, which causes me deep sorrow. Yet, there are still many that have become profoundly significant in my life; enriching my experiences and nurturing my love of learning. They have left their mark on me. And maybe, I haven't checked off all the items on my bucket list, I have lived. I have shared the best parts of myself. I have witnessed the best parts of others. Those parts inspire me to write.

    Those who know me well, they embrace those qualities that I hold dear. I feel things deeply and passionately. Joy and sorrow are equally profound. Love and hate burn the same brilliant red. Everything I feel is fueled by the emotions of others. I feel their pain and joy as exquisitely as if they were my own. Because of this I connect and form bonds quickly; often feeling deep care and sometimes (many times) deep concern when I sense they are troubled.

    Photo by Kara Skye on Unsplash

    The symptoms that the neurosurgeon warned me about returned shortly after the start of the 2020 spring term. In addition to weakness, I have experienced the inability to recall words or to express myself effectively. One time during class the professor asked what a trillium was. I knew it was a flower and that it is white. I know this because it is my mother's favorite flower. This prompted the professor to ask me to describe it. The word that came to mind was an asterisk, and I knew that wasn't right, but I couldn't find the words, and I said I don't know or that I don't remember.

    During that same time, I was home alone on a Friday, and I wasn't feeling right so I laid down to rest. It must have been a couple of hours later when the doorbell rang, waking me. I tried to get up and couldn't move. The person at the door kept on pushing the doorbell - sending me into a panic. I was eventually able to get up and answer the door. And then I stayed awake until my husband returned home.

    A few weeks later, on a Wednesday morning, I awakened to pain that was very different from the day-to-day pain. In class, that morning I wrote three poems with the memory of that pain in mind.

    Wednesday

    Today is Wednesday. I woke up this morning in pain. A pain that I am all too familiar with. It’s the pain that I was warned about. The pain that precedes the necessity of the wheelchair - kind of like the calm before the storm -but the storm is happening now. Victor purchased my new wheelchair six months ago. As soon as I become friends with the wheelchair I will have to schedule surgery. I will have to quit school. I will not be able to do anything for at least six months… the definition of complete empty calm.

    I don’t want that. I want to live my life and do all the things that I haven’t done yet. I want to get another piercing and I want to get my first tattoo (I'm a little afraid). I want to kiss the young man that I fancy - I'm glad he doesn't know - At least I don't think so. I want to write an epic novel. I want to travel to Europe. I want to walk the line for graduation with my favorites.

    So, I put my jazz shoes on and kicked my heel at the beautiful blue wheelchair sitting in the corner. I will wear these shoes all day so that I can feel each pebble and crack in the concrete. I will feel the warmth of the heated cement and asphalt and the texture of the carpet in the LRC. I will perform Tai Chi feeling every slat of wood along with its cracks. And I will memorize it all for when I can’t.

    Photo by Sajad Nori on Unsplash

    As writers, we need to draw from our experiences and find ways to infuse who we are into the stories we tell. Julia Cameron, the author of the Artist's Way, shares:

    "We must write from love and we must choose those to read us who read from love: the love of words. The love of naming our experience must finally be the guiding force in what we put on the page.""

    Because of the first story and all the others within, I have reflected on the questions that were initially asked for a very long time. Because my professor and I are friends, he already knew my story. When I asked him if we could make the questions into a writing assignment, I was grateful to him when he said yes. The words written and shared with me have been added to my own, and I have been touched. Here are the words they shared with me:

    FINITE-TIME

    If tomorrow was my last; would you spend it with me? -Joseph

    Death is not something you need to think about - Jacob

    Draped in a cloudy mist, the snow gently falling - Sean

    Fixing the bonds broken - Max

    He marches into the snow, away from his old life - Kyle

    I am content with the life I have led - anonymous

    I’d spend it in peace - Siena

    I have felt love and joy and companionship - anonymous

    Into the uncertainty of the new - Kyle

    It’s time to speak your truth - Nellie

    It was just enough - anonymous

    I was more ALIVE than most - Jacob

    I want more than anything to find love - anonymous

    I will [leave] on my own terms - Jonas

    I wish to pass some time with these people I’m bound to - Jon

    I would love to travel - Kim

    I wouldn’t want to have time for sadness or regret - Jason

    Let it be known you’re no coward to the wind - Nellie

    Let life take me far beyond - Naudia

    Life as I knew it was such a ride - anonymous

    Live out the rest of my days on the summit - Sean

    May I be remembered - John

    Remember me; remember me - River

    Rules that we can now bend - Elsa

    Small pleasures ignored in the past - Naudia

    Smoke my last; drink one glass - Naudia

    The gift of salvation [is] free - Fernando

    The list has a lot of things unchecked - anonymous

    To golden sunsets and ice-blue waters - Siena

    Two living souls; drawn [back] into themselves - Joseph

    [writing] goodbye letters to those I love - Siena

    When the cherry blossoms are in bloom - Breannah

    With little time left - Siena

    You owe it to yourself to go do what needs to be done - anonymous

    100-yard Butterfly - Marcel

    2020 Shelby GT500 - Jonas

    humanity

    About the author

    Rebecca A Hyde Gonzales

    I started writing when I was about eight years old. I love to read and I also love to create. As a writer and an artist, I want to share the things that I have learned and experienced. Genres: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and history.

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    Comments (7)

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    • Joseph June14 days ago

      Captivating story. Thank you for sharing.

    • Nicole Carroll29 days ago

      I just joined today and skimmed through stories. Your story caught my attention and captivated me the whole way through. I love hearing autobiographical stories. I love to see life through others’ perspectives. Yours has been heart warming, empathy inducing and a prompt for self reflection. Thank you for sharing your story and for sharing your gift. I hope you find healing in your body and spirit and continue to share your gifts with the world! ❤️

    • RN Manchesterabout a month ago

      Wow. I'm so sorry for what you're going through. I really don't even know what to say. I've had broken bones, surgeries to pin and fix things, and spent many months on crutches. Mostly from my own stupidity (skiing and motorcycle accidents). But never close to what you're going through. If a person loses one of their senses, like hearing or sight, they say the other senses grow stronger to make up for the loss. For all the pain and hardship, grow stronger in spirit and nurture your strengths. 🙏

    • Phyllis Bowman about a month ago

      Thank you for this! Going through a similar situation. Involved in a car accident, not my fault. I have Cerebral Palsy. I want to walk again. I want to go home.

    • Meo Timesabout a month ago

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    • Horia Pariabout a month ago

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    • Vytas Stoskusabout a month ago

      Why the sick violent video for starters? It turned me so off that I could not read your story.

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