The surgery was over. She was being gently awaken by the nurse in the recovery room. “Come on dear, open your eyes. Time to wake up,” she said.
As she slowly came out of the anesthesia, she was startled by the noise. It had been so long since she had heard anything, that even the quiet gentleness of the nurses’ voice was startling. As she came around, her mind wandered to the preparation she went through for this.
She had missed so much, but that was going to change with this surgery. They had promised that. They had promised that they could remove that very small part of her brain that had been damaged in the car accident – when she went flying through the windshield cracking her head and breaking her body.
It was a long road to recovery for her. The months and months of therapy to learn how to walk after the multiple surgeries. She had to learn how to re-do so many things and now, this was the final surgery.
She remembered learning to read lips and twisting her fingers in a new language. She remembered the automatic gesture of turning on the radio to listen to her music and crying inconsolably when she couldn’t hear it. She missed the sound of the early morning, before everyone was up. She missed hearing her children say “I love you mommy” and the sounds of her husband as they made love and his whispered “I love you.”
She recalled the music she had loaded on her iPod – tons and tons of it. Things she had missed since the accident that took her hearing. Music was her passion, it filled her soul with beauty and love. She had felt nothing but emptiness since she lost her hearing. She couldn’t wait to play her music, to come back to life.
As she became more aware, she groped around for her iPod. They had promised that as soon as she was awake, she could listen to gentle sounds, in small doses. She had to learn how to re-hear after all this time. She was impatient, she wanted to hear her music. She wanted to come alive again. Now.
The nurse noticed her movements and smiled. She knew what the woman wanted and found it for her. Adjusting the specially designed, noise reducing headphones around her head and the bandages, she watched as the woman turned on the iPod.
Her smile was radiant as the gentle sounds of her children’s voices came through the headphones. “Hi mommy, we love you.” Then she heard the voice of her husband, his voice cracking telling her that he loved her as well. They had slipped that on her iPod at the top of the one playlist she made, so that they would be the first thing she heard. As she started to fall back asleep to the sounds of her cherished music, she felt at peace. The nurse left her headphones in place, knowing she would be in and out of sleep, and that the music would be the best medicine for her.
She awoke the next day, in a new room, with tubes everywhere. The headphones and iPod were nowhere to be found. She saw her doctor coming into her room with a look on his face that said it all. She screamed, but could hear nothing. She didn’t hear the doctor tell her that swelling in her brain created a bleed where they operated and destroyed everything they did. Nor did she hear him say that they couldn’t try again, or that he was so very sorry.
When they finally calmed her down, all she could do was sit there, with tears rolling down her cheeks. The sounds she cherished and briefly heard the day before – her children, her husband, and the music that filled her soul, were all gone.
She felt the emptiness creep back into her soul, where it would reside…forever.