The Coalescence of a Predetermined Past and Future
Cheyanne Perry, Division 3, College sophomore #ws18e-s2d3

Long, black skid marks painted the road. The sudden impact had forced both vehicles to an abrupt halt. Smoke emanated from under a bent, damaged hood; smoldering as the emergency crew performed resuscitation on each of the crash victims.

Six blocks away, a police officer knocked on the door of a quaint, seagull gray house located in a modest neighborhood. Badged and in uniform, the professional attire was no consolation for delivering the unfortunate news to a young woman, who, up until the very moment was still reveling in the car-crash passion of newlywed bliss. The wallet and other familiar belongings carried by the officer were proof enough. They assumed her husband fell asleep at the wheel, but the reasons why did not matter. She could sense the impending peril. Carrying his unborn baby, it was a miracle she was not in the passenger seat.

She arrived at the scene as the body was prepared for transport. Every ounce of her being yearned to reverse time. Almost as if to will it, she looked behind her and noticed shattered glass on the pavement—an envisage of her broken dreams. Through the tearfully blurred reflection of red flashing lights coalescing with the noonday sun, the shards foreshadowed an opaque future without the man she loved. The ambulance wailed on its trek to the hospital and she cursed its sirens for deafening their vows, for allowing “Til death do us part” to come so soon. It was then she realized that turning back time was a futile impossibility. With one hand caressing the new life growing inside of her, she diverted her gaze forward because she knew their future would continue.

Many years later, a child sat near an alcove beside a window on the pediatric unit. Oxygen tubing rested comfortably on her nose and an IV cannula infused medication into her veins. Nurses scurried about the room. Holding her tightly, mom and step-dad attempted to comfort the girl with blonde hair and blue eyes similar to the father she never had the opportunity to meet. I was once that little girl the doctors eventually diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and its comorbid conditions, Dysautonomia, Gastroparesis, and Mast Cell Disease. At my sickest, it was easy to surrender to self-pity. The sorrowful emotions fueled the intense urge to snatch the clipboard from the doctor’s grasp just to scribble out any record of my illness, like a desperate action could negate everything bad that had previously occurred.

But who would I be without such trials? Changing the past would entail sacrificing the person I have become. Instead, I made a choice of perspective. I chose to focus on how the negatives of the past have positively shaped my life. Gone were the days of racing around the bases on the softball field. I was undoubtedly different than the healthy average. While my peers remained lost in teenage invincibility, I quickly had to find myself.

My illness, in combination with loss, incited an intense determination to succeed. I recognized I must live with purpose. It revealed the value of truly cherishing my relationships. I also learned how to set realistic, attainable goals. By embracing the lessons, I acquired the innovative thinking skills to accomplish them and to create a better future that makes my family proud. As I walked the stage as high school valedictorian, and again when I completed the final course for my first college degree from a hospital bed, I had an epiphany. We all wish we could go back to the past and change the outcome of the minuscule, cringe-worthy occasions, equivalent to tripping in front of that cute boy in high school or the reddening embarrassment after spilling coffee at the office. Yet, those examples are seemingly insignificant. It is often the major hardships that impact our person.

Sure, I would love to have prevented the accident that killed my biological father or to shift the course of my illness, but very rarely does life grant that privilege. Happiness cannot be contingent on a desire to alter the past. Comparable to my diagnosis, life will inevitably wax and wane. I have been blessed with caring friends, loving family, and even a guardian angel to lend support along the way.
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