Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Second Chances

 I’ve never really been afraid of dying until now. Death has always been a metaphor for broken hearts and dirty dishes. But the truth is I am terrified of dying, maybe because a week ago death was all too real for me. How many moments in life can you look back and say, “That’s when it all changed”? I can honestly say March 2, 2014 is a day I will never forget. But it all started the night of February 27th. I was brushing my teeth when I felt my lungs constricting. My breaths quickened as the sharp pain in my chest grew dull almost as if someone was pushing against me with the intentions of boring a hole through my chest. The bottom of my spine prickled at my legs until they gave out. I can’t remember if I passed out but the bathroom tile was cold against my right cheek. I don’t know how long I was lying there but the reality of it all was too much. I remember hearing the whimpering that echoed through the bathroom walls. I didn’t realize the whimpers were coming from me. I remember the faint voice of my name being called. Panic etched its way into his voice as he saw his daughter lying on the bathroom floor. I don’t remember the car ride, the wheel chair, or the blood. I don’t remember the x-rays, the hospital gown, or the IV’s. I don’t remember telling my family I loved them or that my sister’s finance looks like an “elf.”(I think the Lortab and Morphine had something to do with that). I remember waking up the next morning back in my own home and desperately needing to stop the pain. I don’t remember swallowing the forty or so Tylenol. I don’t remember the handfuls of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  I remember finding the empty bottles and knowing something was wrong. In my current state it was a miracle I told my sister about the drugs. I remember her showing me the bottles that once held several pills. I didn’t understand what was going on. All I wanted was for the pain to stop. I remember apologizing over and over again without understanding why. The next thing I knew I was in the back of my parent’s car on our way to a different E.R while throwing up the remnants of dinner the night before. I remember the emergency room in Murray. It was the second longest hour of my life. Even though I was violently throwing up I still had to take a number because my vitals were “stable.” I know that other people were in worse conditions but in that moment all I could make out was “I AM NEVER HAVING CHILDREN!” for some reason I thought I was going into labor even though I knew I wasn’t pregnant. I don’t remember changing back into the blue polka dotted gown or the moment my friends showed up, but I do remember the concerned look on my parents face as the doctor informed them on the seriousness of the situation.

I think I am most bummed that I can’t remember the ambulance ride to Primary Children’s Hospital. The last time I was emitted to Primary Children’s was when I was three. The cut off is 18 so I made it by 4 months. I am pretty sure I was the oldest patient there. I remember the look on the volunteers face when he knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to use the craft cart. It was quite awkward considering the fact that I was older than him. Apparently Primary Children’s doesn’t necessarily accommodate for 17 year old's. I was expecting some Fault In Our Stars romance but instead I got Derrick the balding male nurse who tried comforting me while I puked my guts out. Not exactly the romance story I was going for but don’t get me wrong Derrick was awesome he let my friends stay past visiting hours and brought me prizes from the prize closet, which mainly consisted of blankets, story books, and stuffed animals (may I remind you it was a children’s hospital).

The hospital bed was like sleeping on cardboard and the sheets were rough against my skin. The IV’s prevented me from being able to go to the bathroom by myself or sleep in any position other than on my back. The bruises on my arms grew in size as they kept poking and pricking at my skin. The hourly checkups throughout the night to make sure my heart was still beating made it difficult to escape the pain.

I thought Friday was pretty much the worst day of my life but when Sunday rolled around I came face to face with death, the reason I can't sleep at night. I remember waking up at 4 am on Sunday morning feeling as though I just ate something that expired in 1967. The plastic blue bags quickly became my best friend. My body grew tired as the hours went on. The puking continued nonstop for 14 hours. I learned that the human body can endure much more than we give it credit for. Every soccer practice, broken bone, “Hell week”, and health problem I have ever experienced in my life doesn’t even come close to the physical pain I endured that day.  The doctor came in later that evening and expressed his concerns. My liver and kidneys were failing and they were not able to reverse it at that point. I couldn’t receive any pain medication because of the Tylenol overdose. I began to have an allergic reaction to the Tylenol antidote running through my veins. I had nothing left in my stomach and was dry heaving for minutes at a time. If I was lucky a little bit of acid would come up giving me time to breathe in between. My friends were holding ice bags up to my ears to help the swelling go down. I remember looking at my hand. It was bright red and severely swollen. My body was burning but I was shaking as if I were lying naked in the middle of a snowstorm. I began to have a seizure. Every part of my body was convulsing. I never knew death personally until that moment. Never in my life have I been so afraid. In Sunday school they teach you about heaven and hell. They tell you that if you are a good person you’ll go to heaven. I was moments away from discovering the unknown and I was utterly terrified wondering if heaven even existed and if it did was I instead destined for hell.  The doctor was preparing my family for the inevitable. I remember holding my mom’s hand as she begged for me to stay strong. I thought my heart broke in the ninth grade when the boy of my dreams kissed my best friend.  I thought my heart broke when I was 11 when the Backstreet Boys broke up. I thought my heart broke the moment I found out my sister attempted suicide. I thought my heart broke when I saw my dad that night. But nothing compares to the moment I looked into my mother’s eyes and the reality of her daughter dying settled in. I know now what it’s like to feel your heart shatter into a million pieces. I never want to experience that again. I reached my limit. Do you hear that GOD never again, please.

It was the longest hour of my life. I remember begging the doctor to knock me out. I’ve heard that you can black out from being in so much pain but I never knew the truth to that phrase until that moment. The room began to grow black and the cries of my loved ones rang through my ears. Some of you might not be religious. Some of you might not believe in God. Maybe this is too personal to write on my creative writing blog. But that moment changed my life forever. The moment I begged God to give me another chance, to postpone the inevitable, because I am only 17 and every post I’ve written about death didn’t make sense until that moment. They say that in order to overcome your fears you must face them. The reality of it all is that we live everyday thinking there is a next. We say goodbye expecting a hello. We delay saying “I love you” because it just wasn’t the right moment. But you only have so many moments. They’re only so many good mornings and good nights. You only have so many days with those you love. Stop saying tomorrow. Tell your family you love them. Write a thank you card to your grandmother for the socks she gave you last Christmas. Ask that boy or girl you’ve been crushing on since September on a freaking date! Death is real and we can use it as a metaphor for our broken hearts and our dirty dishes. But death isn’t something to take lightly. We become too comfortable with the feeling of sadness that happiness seems foreign and out of place. We talk about suicide like it won’t happen. You are in charge of your own destiny. You might think I am taking this too seriously. Maybe I’m being too literal. Maybe I’m just being dramatic. But the fragility of life is something we often take for granted. And I guess this is my really awkward and confusing way of telling you that I love you because I do. Because a week ago I didn’t know if I would have the chance to tell you that.  A week ago I didn’t know if I’d ever see the sun rise again. I didn’t know if I’d ever hear the rain patter against my window seal. I didn’t know if I’d ever get to experience what it’s like to fall in love or graduate high school. In that moment I wasn’t wishing I had more money or a new I phone. I was wishing I told him I loved him. I was wishing I told my dad I forgave him. I was wishing my sister could know that I was happy for her even though I don’t entirely agree with her decision. I was wishing my mom knew how much I love her and how grateful I am to be her daughter. In that moment all I wanted was for more moments.

So here’s my second chance.  Here I am trying to be more open about my feelings. Here I am trying to be a better person. Here I am trying to be more positive, trying to be bolder, and trying to make something of this world. The truth is death is inevitable. It is a promise made to each of us at birth. But before that promise is kept, we want something to happen to us, whether it is the thrill of romance, the joy of raising a family, or the anguish of great loss. We all hope to experience something to make our lives meaningful. Life is short and we only have so many moments. Make them count.   

Friday, January 10, 2014


In elementary school we use to play this game where we thought that the length of a crease in our palm or pinky finger could tell us how long we’d live or how many kids we’d have.

“You’ll live to be 76, and have 4 kids” she said.

Natalie and I had nothing to fear because our lives would consist of happiness and love. And somehow we were fortune tellers at the age of nine and we had the stars aligned in our favor acting as saviors for each other while we whispered silent prayers to God asking him to make us best friends forever, but apparently forever only lasted until middle school.

It’s now January 2014 and my hands… my hands, they hold story lines, they’ve worn and calloused, they’ve scarred and torn, carrying expectations like a balancing act, sweating and slipping until they can’t hold on anymore. They let go in 2009 when I watched my hero die. They let go in 2011 when I was first diagnosed with depression. They let go in 2013 when they determined I had Lyme’s disease and so many other diagnoses that still don’t make sense to me.

But we all carry around these things inside us that no one else can see and it took me seventeen years to realize what they meant when they said the monsters don’t live under your bed.

I remember when the mornings started with the sun rising. I remember when the days ended with the moon shining. I remember how I used to see the world, how I use to live. Now days fade into nights and
nights fade into mornings, what felt like a perfect picture, now looks like a distorted drawing.  To have what feels like a beautiful masterpiece, and to see it bleed, to see all its colors fade, right in front of you, and the only thing you can do is try to paint a new picture, but sometimes it’s hard, when you realize the world doesn’t appreciate art like it use to. They say we’re too young to be this sad, because people need real happiness. The kind that isn’t rolled up and lit. The kind that doesn’t come out of a bottle. The kind that makes your cheeks sore and your stomach ache. The kind that makes you think a little deeper, that makes you feel weightless. The kind that nobody can give you. The kind that you have to find for yourself.

But I’m drowning from information and starving for knowledge. I need to rip your name off my tongue because it no longer tastes sweet. Because I have so many hopes and dreams that have yet to come true, because I’ve never been kissed in a rain storm, because I’ve never gotten a tattoo. Because my names not really Grace Kelly, because Mr. Nelson told me to make a pen name, because I’m standing here in front of you wishing I was back home in the comfort of my own bedroom but instead I’m here speaking from my heart trying to get you to listen to me as if I have something profound to tell you.

But no one said that it was going to be this hard. No one taught a tired soul that if you grip onto broken glass loosely it doesn’t bleed as much. No one said that it was okay to not be okay, so I decided to say nothing.

Love always,

Gabi Israelsen

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Air France

    My plane landed on August 23rd in the Paris, France airport.  It was a bit crowded when the 70 or so tourists unloaded the plane all in search of the tour guide. Little did we know our tour guide was simply an artist in disguise.

   I think we were all tourists at first (even though we’ll never admit it). We needed a map and step by step directions to find our way around Paris. We were too afraid to step over the line or make a wrong turn because it was ingrained into our minds that every question needs an answer, every variable needs a letter, and behind every equal sign there is a solution. But in Paris we learned to “eff that crap!” In Paris we learned that you don’t have to be a kid to go to space camp. In Paris we learned to paint with chalk, write about blocks, and that stealing someone’s crayons is emotionally disturbing so BACK OFF! In Paris we learned that our tour guide was secretly an artist talking about business school like it would actually help you in life. But we all knew Christine would choose Raoul because it’s “logical” right? The Phantom never stood a chance. He was a musical genius who was misunderstood and apparently sane means more to relationships than love these days.

   Our tour guide was disguised as an artist. He taught us religion like there was no anti-Christ. I know it’s sacrilegious but in Paris we learned to speak the truth. In Paris no one cared about grammar, punctuation, or capitalization. In Paris we were artists with an unfinished canvas. 
In Paris we learned to scribble and ramble out our thoughts. In Paris we found ourselves naked while still fully clothed. But on January 10th everything changes, because our flight leaves a 12:12 at the sound of a lunch bell. Some of us might shed a few tears because Paris was more than just delicious croissants and the Eiffel Tower. Paris is where it rained almost every day, and you know what they say about kissing in the rain. Paris is where the jocks, the hipsters, the cheerleaders, the goths, the brainwashed, the broken, the terrified and the out spoken had completely forgotten about all the stereotypes for 80 minutes every other day. Paris is where we finally learned the difference between being a native and a tourist.

  They say you get “lost in Paris,”

  but somehow,

  somehow I think I was found.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Drunk Apology

Dear Mom,
I miss you. Every card I titled “to the best mom ever” still holds the truth. I’m sorry for the burden that I’ve become. I’m sorry for shutting you out when I know you are only trying to help. The silence building between us is my desperate plea for your attention, for you to actually listen to me. I’m screaming at you through the coughing, the wheezing, and the silent gasps for air. This sickness has taken over me but I still love you.

Dear Family,
I miss you. I’m sorry for holding grudges. I’m sorry I forgot to write. I’m sorry I shut you out when I really just wanted someone to talk to.

Dear Friends,
I miss you. I’m sorry for pressing ignore when I really wanted to press answer. I’m sorry I haven’t been around lately. I’m sorry I’ve missed out on the basketball games, the random parties, and the endless memories that will later become the stories you tell your grand kids. I’m sorry for shutting you out when I desperately wanted you to understand.

Dear teacher(s),
I miss your class. I miss the lectures, the sometimes funny jokes, and the cute boy who sat next to me in class. I miss learning, reading, and leaving class with a new perspective. This is the first year I’ve loved all my classes and it’s all because of you. I just wish I could be there to show you how much class means to me.

Dear Doctor(s),
I still see you every day so I can’t say that I miss you. I’m sorry for wincing as you poke and prick at my skin but I’m tired of feeling like a raggedy anne doll. I’m sick of the alcohol swabs, the blood tests, and the smell of disinfectant.  I’m sick of the endless diagnoses of names I can’t even pronounce.  I’m sorry for being so negative. I know you’re just trying to help but I just want someone to tell me the truth.

Dear God,
I miss you. I’m sorry for the curse words, skipping church, and my bitter attitude. I’m sorry for asking for the same thing every night. I’m sorry for 11-28-13, it won’t happen again.

Dear old me,
I miss you and I think everyone else does too. I hate looking through old photographs and seeing the happy girl in skinny jeans. I miss your laugh, your smile, and your innocence. I miss the adventurous brunette with dreams and a future. I’m sorry I shut you out too.

Dear Lyme's Disease,
Screw you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

90's Kid

In three years from when we graduate it will be the last graduating class to “technically” be born in the 90’s. In just three short years it will be the last generation to grow up on TV shows like Hey Arnold, Fresh Prince of Bell Air, Even Stevens, Saved by the Bell, and Boy meets World. It will be the last generation whose Trix cereal growing up was shaped like fruits and flowers, not spheres. It will be the last generation who cried when their tamagotchi died, who owned a cassette/CD player, and still answered their home phone.  It will be the last generation to understand the difference between Backstreet Boys and One Direction. It will be the last generation who will know that The Little Vampire came before Twilight, that the Goonies might be the best movie of all time, and that Aaron Carter was the Justin Bieber of the 90’s.

Their Disney channel will consist of shows like A.N.T farm, Dog with a Blog, and Shake it up, while ours consisted with shows like Even Stevens, Lizzie McGuire, and Kim Possible. You'd wake up every Saturday to watch cartoons like Power Rangers, Pokémon, and the Flintstones. The generations to come will never understand the importance of the movie SPACE JAM.

Baby bottle pops, bazooka bubble gum, and gushers will be stale. Bubble gum machines, hop scotch, and play dough will seem childish. Half time snacks will no longer consist of kool-aid and a ding dong. They’ll probably try and feed you fruit or something dumb like that since half the nation is obese these days.(exaggeration)

In just three years from when we graduate it will be the last graduating class to “technically” be born in the 90’s, and soon after that we’ll catch ourselves starting all our sentences with “When I was your age…”