| Miguel, Maria and Manuela Sanchez were quite surprised to find that Maria would be moved into Autumn's hospital room. They would be together until Autumn was released. Miguel watched Jamison and Autumn in great fascination. He could see how much they loved each other, and he only wished Maria had a close friendship like that. He had no idea his prayer was to be answered so soon.
Miguel was pushing Maria back into to her hospital room after a treatment. He saw Autumn sitting in bed, laboriously writing something. She had her table in front of her with some sort of rubber mat. He noted that she was writing with one hand, and the rubber thing kept her paper from sliding around on the table. He was surprised when she reached in Maria's direction as they passed her bed. The girls couldn't reach each other, so Miguel took the paper. After he helped Maria get into her bed, he handed her the note.
"Do you want me to read it?" he asked her. She read the note and looked toward Autumn with tear-filled eyes. What had that girl written? Miguel wondered if he would have to do battle for his sister.
"Thank you," she managed before someone knocked on the door.
A young man in scrubs entered, so Miguel knew he must be some sort of hospital worker.
"I'll start with you, Miss Autumn. I know that you just can't wait for me to come and take vitals!" She laughed and turned toward the Sanchez twins. She pointed at the man in scrubs.
"Jordan," she said, then nodded toward Maria.
"Maria." she finished, and smiled at the twins.
"Thanks for introducing us. You did a great job!" Jordan said as he attached the blood pressure cuff. "Katie (the speech therapist) will be so proud of you!" When he finished documenting her vitals, he placed her chart in its holder and approached the girl he had not yet met.
:Hi, Maria. As Autumn said, I'm Jordan. I'm going to take your vital signs, okay?"
"Sure," Maria sighed. Then she turned away in disgust. Miguel was surprised that Jordan let her get away with greeting him like that. No one at the hospital in Alamogordo would have put up with it. Still, he had noticed that these people seemed to be different. They were all so kind and understanding, and they reached out to each other effortlessly.
"Hey, Autumn?" Maria asked. Autumn looked at her.
"I have a question for you, but will you be able to answer?" Autumn nodded and struggled to reach her communication board. Miguel turned to help her just as Jamison entered the room. Jamison went to her bed and handed her the board.
"that blasted neurosurgeon!" Jamison muttered. Autumn turned to him with a confused expression.
"that old surgeon came back to talk to you, I'm guessing. And she moved the holder for your board so it was out of your reach. She just doesn't care about...oh, never mind." He smiled at her and squeezed her hand.
"How can you be so happy? You seem to know all these people, and you all like each other! How does that work?" Maria asked when Autumn turned back to her. Jamison seemed to understand that the response would be a long one, and it would be more complex than what the communication board could convey. Those pictures and words were too limiting. He got the computer out of her wheelchair backpack and placed it before her. After he helped her to position her hand on the adaptive keyboard, she began to type: "It's my faith in God that keeps me going. there are days when I can't seem to hope for anything, days when I wish I would just die so I could be done with it."
"Yeah, I know what you mean!" Maria responded to what the computer said aloud.
"But you're so positive."
"Don't let me play you false! I'm not always like that...just ask Jamison! I'm sure I have put him through stuff I'm not even aware of." Jamison put his arm around her shoulders, but because she was facing Maria with her back to him, she didn't see his expression. Miguel saw the momentary flicker of pain and wondered just what the young man was thinking. Jamison clearly loved Autumn, and Miguel saw that he didn't regret sticking with her, even through whatever pain he was harboring. Maybe Miguel could be of some use to this man. He could at least extend the same offer of friendship and assistance.
He found the perfect opportunity to approach Jamison later that day. Jamison had just cut Autumn's food and helped to position her so she could eat independently.
"Do you need anything else right now?" he asked with patience Miguel had to admire. She shook her head, to which he responded, "Okay, I'm going to get some food." As he exited, Miguel turned to his sister, "I'm going to catch up with him. Do you need anything before I go?" She, too, shook her head. Miguel left the room and scanned the hallway for Jamison.
Miguel quietly approached Jamison's table, but he saw that the young man was praying, so he silently put his tray on the table and respectfully waited for Jamison to finish the prayer.
Jamison smiled when he noticed Miguel. He took the silent invitation and sat across from Jamison. He had to be no older than Miguel's nineteen years, but he seemed so much older. Here was a person who was clearly used to hardship.
"I have been thinking about your offer," Miguel began hesitantly, "and it would be great to have a friend who gets it."
"that's awesome, but there is more..." Jamison seemed to understand that Miguel had something more on his mind and invited him to speak freely with those simple words.
"When Maria asked Autumn about how she handled everything, I noticed an interesting expression on your face. It was when she was talking to Maria about causing you pain, and your expression indicated that she was right."
Jamison didn't know how to respond, but he was quite surprised when the whole thing just tumbled forth.
"It's not her fault. Sometimes she would lash out at me. It was a cover for the pain of the abuse at the hands of her mother and the good-for-nothing boyfriends. It was only in fear after the sexual assaults. I was comforted by the fact that she wasn't just rejecting me. She didn't want her dad or the male nurses, Zachariah and Josiah, around. Sometimes she even yelled at the female nurses she knew were just there to help her. Josiah, one of her nurses, encouraged me just by his actions. She would demand that he not touch her and state that she couldn't trust men. He never seemed to be insulted, and when he came to treat her or whatever, he would always ask. Sometimes she would let him, but at others, she would scream at him to leave the room. He explained to me that it would just take time, but that she would realize she could trust us. We just had to stick with her. I knew she didn't mean a thing she said, but sometimes it still hurt."
"You haven't told her any of this, have you?" Miguel could see that Jamison struggled with his emotion even now.
"Of course not! Why would I burden her with such a thing? Still, she knew. During the times when she was calm and lucid, she would often apologize, and I could see that she was tormented when she saw how something she said hurt me. She has always been intuitive like that. She just knows that stuff. It was amazing--the first time she let me hold her after a nightmare. It showed me that she still trusted me." Jamison stopped and smiled apologetically. "Wow. I didn't mean for it all to come out like that!"
"I'm sure you have had to hold it all inside for so long. Well, for what it's worth, I'm here for you." Miguel shook Jamison's hand. It was like a tangible symbol of the promise between the two men. They both desperately needed a friend with whom to share this burden. They could understand each other in ways that most people could not even begin to comprehend. Jamison still grasped Miguel's hand, and it just seemed natural to pray, "Thank You, Lord, for bringing us together today. You know how much we desperately need friends with whom to share this difficult time. thank You for seeing our needs and filling them, Lord. Keep our girls Autumn and Maria safe, Jesus. Be with them, and show them Your presence like never before. Calm their fears, and fill them with Your peace." Miguel had never heard anything like that in his life, and this Jamison just seemed to talk to his God naturally. It was so strange. Miguel found it interesting that Jamison included his sister in his prayers. After all, the Sanchez siblings were basically strangers, brought together by this terrible disease! this thing with a personal God was just way too weird, but it couldn't hurt anything, could it?
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