It begins anew in darkness. As I lay here, I’m not sure if I’m awake or dreaming. The last thing I remember, I was smiling and telling this guy where I was from. That’s all so far away now. I feel restrained. I am confused.

I possess an urgency to move, but I’m not sure which way I should go. It would help if I could see. Maybe I haven’t yet tried to see.

With every ounce of strength I can muster I try to open my eyes. I think, what if my eyes are open? What if I am blind? That would be irritating because that’s not why I’m here. I can’t be blind. I’m gonna try again.

I struggle under the weight suspended on my eye lids. I think I’m doing okay because it feels like I’m moving my eyes. I still can’t see though. Only now, there’s a dull, distant whooshing sound.

Great. Did I pull something while trying to see? I’m gonna rest for a few minutes. I am suddenly very tired.

Okay. I’m still where I was, though I don’t know where that is. I have a little more energy than before and I really need to find out what’s going on. So I need to see. I don’t know if I need to push my eyes open or pull them open. I can’t tell if my eye lids are stronger or if the weight is reduced, but I am starting to not see darkness.

Light! My eyes are opening! Praise God!

It is painfully bright and everything is moving around, counterclockwise. I don’t know if it is my eyes or my head spinning, but I am dimly aware that there are things moving around me. It takes an eternity, but my eyes begin to focus. The whooshing sound, though still far away, is becoming more intelligible. It is a person. Or maybe a machine of some kind. It’s something.

I am abruptly aware that someone is squeezing my left arm. In pain, I turn to see who it is, but there is no one there. Confused, I turn my head the other way. This is where all the light’s coming from. It is really bright to the right. That rhymed!

I’m staring into the light as it becomes less radiant and more boxy. I can see something moving in the light. Maybe it’s a someone. Yes, definitely a person blocking part of the light. Is that a window? The shadow of a woman emerges, and as she approaches, I see her! It’s my wife! I may not be able to move, but I am elated that she’s here.

She moves a little closer to me and I notice tears on her cheeks. Why is she crying? She should be happy because I can finally see. It took me a long time to open my eyes. I can’t stop looking at her. She’s smiling. She’s crying. I can’t help but feel like it’s my fault she’s crying. What have I done now?

I can see her mouth moving, but I’m not hearing her words. My mouth begins to move, and I am shocked at how dry and cracked my lips are. I think my mouth moved but I forgot to speak. Let me try that again.

Raspy. Dry. Hollow. My mouth moves and I manage to push out, “Hi.”

“Hey Baby…how are you feeling?” she whimpers.

“O..k..”, crawls out.

Whoever was grabbing my left arm finally let go with a beep. Still no one there.

I did not feel okay. I am becoming more and more aware that I am in a lot of pain. My head hurts. My chest is killing me. I am intubated and there are a dozen wires and tubes attached to my body. I’m starting to remember what happened, but I am in too much pain to finish any of my thoughts.

I turn my head back to Stephanie. To the right. Her hand is gently caressing my forearm. I am gazing into her eyes and I am so glad she’s here. I think she’s talking to me again, but I didn’t hear anything.

“Wh-what?” I sputter.

“Did you know they were going to cut out two of your ribs?”, she asked boldly.

“Ribs. My ribs?” That took a lot of energy to say.

She nodded. Why would they take my ribs, I wonder.

I notice movement to my left and gingerly turn my head that way. If I move slowly it doesn’t hurt as much. Then, I see this guy, and he looks familiar to me. Doctor Barone.

“Robert! You’re awake! It’s so good to see you. How are you feeling?” He seems really excited for some reason.

“You took my ribs?” I muster indignantly. He is the doctor that cut me open.

“Yes,” he admitted. “We had a hard time cutting though the muscles around your chest. You’re in great shape, by the way! But because time was crucial, we had to cut through two of your ribs to get the kidney out. But don’t worry. Your ribs are in the jar over there.  You can have them,” he beamed.

I am so glad he gave me permission to keep my ribs. The deal was for a kidney. I give him the kidney, he saves my step-mom’s life. That being said, I’m too tired to argue about the ribs right now.

“How’s my mom? Is she okay?”

Doctor Barone peers at me over his glasses, smiles and nods. “You’ve saved her,” he states plainly. “I’ll be back to check on you shortly. Get some rest.” I didn’t want to watch him leave, but my head is moving really slowly right now. When I finally get my head back to the right, I see Stephanie again. She’s so pretty.

“Yes,” I begin. “They took my ribs.”

She meekly smiles through her tears and touches my forehead. I think I’m going to sleep again because I can’t hold my eyes open anymore.

I finally got to see!