From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul

No Time to Say I Love You

Everyone needs reminders that the fact of their being on this earth is important and that each life changes everything.

Marge Kennedy

Sweat beads gathered on my forehead at just the thought of the first day of high school. I thought for sure that I was going to be singled out and embarrassed in every class and then be laughed out of the school. In first hour, when I was called to the office, being singled out became the least of my problems.

My twenty-year-old-brother, Brian, stood filling out papers for me to leave. He turned to face me and my heart sank. His face was pale and blotchy, like someone had carelessly thrown red paint on a white sheet of paper. His eyes were swollen and red. This being the first I had ever seen my brother cry, I knew that something bad had happened. He grabbed my hand and leaned down until his face was level with mine.

“Amanda has been in a car accident, and she is in the hospital,” he said.

Every inch of my body went numb as I absorbed what my brother was telling me.

My sister? In a car accident? How could that happen? At age seventeen, Amanda was the safest driver I knew.

Without a thought in my head, I pulled away from my brother and sprinted down the hallway.

I had to get to my locker, my class and out of that school as fast I could. Yet nothing was fast enough. It felt like everything around me had slowed to a painful crawl just when I wanted it to speed up.

Yelling over my shoulder that I would be out to the car in a minute, I opened the door to my classroom. My teacher didn’t ask what I was doing; she knew. She knew just by looking at me that I was leaving even without a note. Nothing she could do was going to stand in my way.

People watched from class windows as I ran down the hall in a panic to my locker and then out of the school doors. I would get in trouble for not waiting to get a note from the office, but I didn’t care. Nothing mattered more than getting out of that school and to where my sister was.

Brian and I drove to the trauma center at Mid-Michigan Regional Medical Center. We ran into the room, and then I saw her.

She was laying on her back on a bed with her head and neck in braces. Her face was covered from the eyebrows up and you could see blood everywhere. She was hooked to several different machines to monitor her body reactions. Her entire body convulsed with the effects of the trauma.

My mom and dad stood at her side crying. Our pastor, youth pastor and what seemed at the time to be half of our church congregation were also in the room.

I walked like a zombie to her bedside.

Nothing could explain the feeling that coursed through me when she looked up at me with blood-filled eyes. In her eyes, where I expected to see fear, I saw strength. Then her eyes softened, and she spoke. She said one thing to me while she was lying on that bed.

She looked up at me and said in a strained voice, “I love you, Renee.” I couldn’t handle the emotion that filled me at the realization that I rarely told my sister I loved her. I tried to answer her, but she wasn’t listening anymore.

The doctors were taking her away to the x-ray room, and she was watching them carefully.

As they wheeled her broken body down the hallway with her blood seeping into the bandages and onto the white sheets that covered the portable bed, every inch of my being wanted to scream out to her that I loved her, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t move, speak or even cry until she was around the corner and I could see her no more. Then the tears came.

I knelt on the floor and cried in the corner. I cried tears of hopelessness and frustration.

Though everyone kept telling me she would be all right, something in their voices spoke loudly of the doubt that everyone was secretly harboring in the back of their minds. All I wanted was for the doctor to say, “She’s going to be fine.”

He didn’t. Every moment that passed allowed the doubt to grow stronger and bigger, like a dense black cloud that refused to allow the sunlight to come through. Finally, he walked tentatively down the hall and stood quietly in front of us.

I tried to read his face what he was going to say, but I couldn’t. He started to tell us about her head.

When the tie-rod on her car broke, the car hit the side of the ditch and flipped end over end, clearing the ditch and landing on the other side in a small patch of trees.

Her head struck an object, which was assumed to have been the dashboard, with the front part of her face. The impact drove all of the skin on her forehead back into her hair. Pieces of skin still remained in that cursed car.

I knew that head wounds were very dangerous and that they could result in many different injuries. At that moment, I really wished that I had paid more attention to my teacher when we talked about head wounds in health class.

It was then that the long-awaited words came. The only words, from the only person that I could accept them from—the doctor. Amanda was going to be okay.

My soul leaped and my heart raced as I realized I still had a sister. She would never look the same and would require hours of plastic surgery, but she was alive, and that’s all that mattered to me.

A year later, I still have a sister, and even though we fight and nag at each other, every time that I see her face and I spot the large scar that stretches from her hairline across her forehead, down her eyelid and back up to her hair, I remember to tell her that I love her. I remember when I almost didn’t have the chance to tell her again how much I really do love her, and I thank God I still can.

Renee Simons

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