There she sat, in her wheel chair on the porch, looking out on to the busy street. She watched all the kids playing, laughing and having a good time as they walked by. Sometimes she would see them whispering to each other and pointing directly at her. These were the friends she used to hang out with. That is until the accident.
Now she was trapped in this chair for life. She was unable to move her body from the waist down. Doctors said it was a blessing that she had the ability to use the upper half of her torso. They had never seen this kind of spinal injury not result in total paralysis.
‘A miracle they call this a miracle’ Sheila thought to herself. ‘None of them are trapped in this chair. None of them have lost the ability to live their life freely.’
Everything changed in a moment. A car failed to yield as she crossed the intersection on her bicycle. Sheila could still hear the screeching tires and the sound of her body hitting the hood of the car. She remembers her mother’s screams as she ran out into the road “Oh my God, NO, Sheila…not my baby!” The sound of sirens whaling in the distance and people chattering ‘is she alive?’ were still an all too recent memory.
This day was like any other. She sat there quietly on the porch, lost in her thoughts, while her mother stood at the screen door worrying. Ms Temple wanted to see her daughters’ bright vibrant smile again. She longed to hear Sheila’s laughter ring throughout the house. Those days seemed lost. Now there was only lingering sadness.
Ms. Temple started homeschooling Sheila because some of the kids made fun of her at school. Sheila required a lot of assistance throughout the day. This only seemed to add to Sheila’s withdrawing. How was she to get Sheila to be herself again?
Peter yelled out “Hi Sheila, Hi Ms. Temple.”
“Hi Peter.” Ms Temple yelled back. “How are you today?”
“Great! We won the game last night. Sheila did you come to the game?”
Sheila only shook her head no and continued to stare off. Peter looked at her for a few minutes before he decided to move on.
Ms. Temple had hoped that maybe Peter’s reaching out to Sheila would at least get her to talk. Peter was Sheila’s boyfriend before the accident. He called every day until Sheila refused to take his calls. Ms. Temple was surprised at how persistent Peter had been in trying to reach out to her. That was when she knew that the boy had true feelings for her daughter. She knew he loved Sheila for who she was, not who she used to be.
Hours had gone by and Sheila continued to stare off as her mother read the lessons aloud. Sheila would complete the worksheets, but there were no discussions. Sheila just refused to speak. She was locked up deep inside herself, sinking deeper and deeper in her own despair. Ms. Temple would be less worried if Sheila would shed some tears or get angry; but there was nothing. Simply no emotions. She was completely void.
As the sound of the kids coming back home from school echoed along the street, that signaled the end of their daily lessons. Some of the kids minded their own business as they walked by and some of them did not. This became a part of the daily routine that Ms. Temple would like to come to an end. Then there he came. Peter slowly approached the steps with something in his hand.
“Hi Ms. Temple, is it OK if I talk to Sheila alone?” Peter asked. Ms Temple paused only for a moment before she answered.
“Certainly Peter. Please come get me before you leave O.K?”
“Yes Ma’am.” Peter responded.
Peter took the chair that Ms. Temple had been sitting in moments ago and sat right in front of Sheila’s wheelchair. “Sheila, look at me.”
Sheila’s eyes slowly met his. She could see the sincerity in His deep brown eyes. She always got lost in his eyes. There was this feeling of warmth and security found deep within them. Her heart rate increased and there was a longing for the past welling up in her.
“Sheila, I love you. It’s just as simple as it can be. It’s not sympathy. I don’t feel sorry for you in the least. Things happen to us all. Some worse than others, but none of it happens without a purpose. I’d like to kick you square in the fanny for cutting me out of your life the way you did, but I knew you needed time.”
He paused, looking back at her. He wanted to be certain she was listening and not starring off again. This is when he saw tears welling up in her eyes. He continued on “I offer you this single red hibiscus flower. It symbolizes our love for each other. More importantly something happens to this kind of flower when you cut it away from the plant. It shrivels and closes up overnight never to open up again. Please Sheila, don’t be like this flower. Don’t cut yourself away from your friends and family.”
Sheila began to weep as Peter leaned forward to hold her in his arms. “I still love you. This chair means only what you allow it to mean. I refuse to allow it to disable our love for each other.” Peter whispered in her ear.
Ms. Temple was now standing at the door. She heard her daughter crying and had to make sure she was alright. It made her heart leap with joy when she saw her daughter in Peter’s arms. Finally the silence was broken.
Sheila looked at Peter and said “I love you too.” Then she looked toward to door and called out to her “mom!” Ms. Temple ran out to her, dropping to her knees and heard Sheila say “I love you mom.” They all cried together, the time had come for healing.
Time had moved on, as it always does. Sheila finished school top of her class. She had started an outreach group to share her story with others who had their lives suddenly change. She took up all the same sports and hobbies she had been involved with prior to her accident.
Today was like no other day. The scene was all too familiar. Sheila sat on her porch, a single red hibiscus in her hand as Peter made his way up the steps. He took a chair and sat it right in front of her as they stared into each others eyes. Words were exchanged and then the preacher announced “You may now kiss your bride”. Peter leaned in and Sheila whispered to him “and to think it only took a single flower.”