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The Chance of Doing My Life Over - Part One

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Waking Up

I woke up.

I had gone to bed a singular seventy two year old woman in an old collapsing house on a tropical island. I woke up in a bright room, somewhere else. And standing at my bed foot, looking to be in their forties, were my parents..

"Am I in heaven?" I asked

"No, you're in Kings County Hospital..." came a voice I didn't know. I turned to see a doctor, who asked; "What do you remember?"

I remembered seventy two years of life, but shook my head, my eyes crawling around the ward, trying to figure out what had happened.

"Do you remember how you were injured?" the doctor asked.

"I don't remember being injured..." I say, looking at my hands, my girly hands, my young pale arms and asked..."What is today?"

They told me the date, including the year. This meant I was nineteen years old!

"You've been in a coma for two years..."

(Two years?)

"Did I graduate High School?" I ask, trying to get some hold, some anchor.

"Yes..." my parents chimed.

"I want to get up..." I say, pushing the sheet, trying to rise, to get my feet on the floor. To get some sense of control.

There were attempts to dissuade, but I wasn't listening. I heard my mother speaking to the doctor as I got my feet to the cold linoleum, but felt weak.

"I want to go to the bathroom..." I say.

There was a bedpan...

"No... please, help me walk a little..."

My father put out his arm, and holding tight I made small weak steps, but they were steps.

There was a toilet in the corner and I got there, concentrating on the feel beneath my feet, my father's strong arm.

My mother came to me as I entered and stood by the slightly open door.

I used the bathroom. Not in my old lady struggle but my teenage ease. I looked at my sleek body, so pale. I rose to wash my hands, my mother entered, flushed the toilet.

I looked at her, this young version of my mother. The mother I knew when I was a teenager and embraced her..."I love you Mommy!" I say.

She cried.
We both cried.

Getting it aligned

I came back to the bed, hearing how I had been outside the apartment where we lived when something fell and hit me in the head. How the superintendent's wife found me, called my parents, and an ambulance arrived.

I had no recollection of anything like this happening.

A little later I was asked if I was hungry and said yes, and asked for a vegetarian meal. My parents looked at each other, at the doctor, he told the nurse.

I drank water, feeling so dehydrated, the voices of my parents a midst around me as I tried to fit the 'me' I knew into this version of me.

The food arrived, I began to eat slowly, Mommy and Daddy still talking. I was quiet.

After I ate, Mommy took me to the bathroom. I used it again, brushed my teeth, dying for a cigarette. As I returned to my bed I told my father, who smoked. I had smoked since I was fourteen, so there was nothing strange.

Mommy got me a robe and slippers and Daddy escorted me to a staircase, and we sat on the steps and smoked. He started to cry. I realised how much they had loved me.

"It's okay Daddy, I'm here, and I'm going to be exactly who and what you want me to."

He didn't hear me, or if he did, react.

I sat there, keeping myself under control. I was not a seventy two year old professional who had lived a complex life, I was a nineteen year old kid who had lost two years.

It was all so strange and crazy, so I'd go with silence, confusion, weakness. I would not mess this up. Not this time.

After the cigarette my father helped me back to the room. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Visiting hours were over. The doctor said he would run tests tomorrow and if they were as good as he expected, I'd get to go home in the afternoon.

My parents kissed me, tears drowning, and left.

Going Over What I Remember

That night I went over my life. The life I remember before waking up in his hospital. The years between nineteen and seventy two.

I recall graduating high school and travelling. I remember a lot of little jobs. I remember being twenty years old and attended University, starting at night, switching to day.

I recall meeting a man of a different race, a man who seemed to love me and married him.

I married him, got to be officially dead to my family.

I lived with him under horrible circumstances, but got citizenship on a Caribbean island. That was the only plus. Not the two children we had who we couldn't take care of, and sent to his mother, who grew up hating me..

The marriage didn't last four years.

We were on his island when I left him. I was 25. Completely alone in the world. No family, nothing.

I had a few stupid affairs then got involved with another man when I was 29. Another man with whom I had a daughter.

We lived a jumble life, but I, having gotten another degree, being a professional, important, could fill my time with work, meetings, all sorts of encounters.

My daughter, like my sons, grew up to hate me, and migrated. I broke up with my second husband. As usual, I wound up alone bouncing from one place to another.


I had no contact with my sister nor my parents for over thirty six years. I was dead to them.

The internet was created and I got in touch with my sister online.

Oh that I can't forget.

She attacked me for everything possible. Every fault, every failure she had was due to me... due to the sister who she hadn't seen or heard from in thirty six years.

Amid her attacks she told me my father had died eight years before.

I got my mother's number not from her, but a search, and called her.

At first she thought I was my sister, but realising it was me became distant but polite.

After that first painful call, after a retrospective, I decided to contact my mother every year on her birthday, mother's day, and wedding anniversary.

And I did so.

I phoned her three times a year.

"Oh hi, how are you? That's great. Thank you for calling," she'd say hanging up after one or two minutes.

I phoned her three times a year until she died.

None of that would happen now.

I had gotten another chance, and would be the daughter my parents wanted.

During my life I had been extremely politically active. Civil rights, feminism, anti-war, and what did that get me?

Seventy two years of my life have taught me that the most selfish people, people who will spend hundred on their fingernails, but can't toss a starving beggar a dollar, have wonderful lives.

They focus on themselves, get everything they want.

I would have a wonderful life. I would think of me and me alone.

No free work, no demonstrations, no concern about others or social issues. I would think of me and make sure that this time, I didn't end up alone.