“At least I made it home for Christmas, right?” Alex sighed and wheeled his chair up the sidewalk to his parent’s lake house on Grand Island. Although just a few miles north of Buffalo, the island was worlds away in status.
Alex was reminded of what he’d told Ellen about his vision of having all things in common, with no physical riches, only inherent riches. And how the love that we all felt for one another was what made us rich.
Wheeling himself through the main entrance into the grand foyer, Alex was greeted by the elegant Christmas tree that had been trimmed for display in the two-story open living room. Staged presents were carefully placed beneath the tree. None of them were real. The family had planned a trip to Cancun for Christmas break. That trip had been postponed indefinitely because of the accident.
The two curved staircases on either side of the living room led to the upstairs bedrooms and Alex wheeled near the base of the stairs on the side of the home where his suite of rooms was located.
“Don’t worry,” his mom said. “We’ve moved you to the lower level master bedroom suite and you’ll have twenty-four-hour care.” Krystina Stephenson had grown up a simple girl with a normal job in the county courthouse when she’d met his dad. They’d fallen in love as they tried to solve a government corruption scandal. She hadn’t experienced wealth and privilege until she’d married Alexander Stephenson, Sr. and they moved from one of the condos his father had designed to buy this million-dollar home on the island.
“Where will you and dad sleep?” Alex asked, turning his chair in the opposite direction.
“We’ve moved up to your room until you’re able to walk again,” she said.
“What if I never walk again?” Alex wheeled himself into his parent’s old suite which had been redecorated with his belongings from upstairs. They all seemed so juvenile after the spiritual experience he’d had while supposedly in a coma. His signed baseball collection, his computer and video game consoles, his widescreen television.
All his furniture had been moved down here and he paused near his bedside table. His cheeks warmed with shame thinking of some of the things he had hidden in there. He wondered how his mom had felt when she found his stash of pot, or the large box of prophylactics he kept in his bedside table drawer. Yeah, he was a complete idiot back then.
“You’re turning eighteen next month,” his mom said in a soft voice. “I left them in there.”
“Oh my gosh, mom, please don’t talk to me about this,” Alex choked out. “It’s embarrassing enough knowing you found them.”
“I just hope”—her voice hitched. “That you regain feeling in your lower half again so that you’ll have a healthy relationship someday.”
“If I had a healthy relationship, I wouldn’t need them because I would be married first.” Alex turned his wheelchair around and faced his mother, registering the pity in her eyes.
He imagined the hopes and dreams she’d had for him prior to the accident, which probably included seeing him dancing at his wedding and grandbabies. He fought back tears and realized that’s what he had envisioned as well.
“Momma,” Alex said. “I hope I have that someday too.”
She placed her hand on his shoulder, then chuckled. “I threw away the drugs, though.”
“Hey, that stuff’s legal in some states now,” Alex reasoned playfully, moving on toward the adjoining bathroom.
“Not for seventeen-year-olds it’s not,” his mom scolded.
“Like you said, I’m about to turn eighteen.” He continued forward where a door was propped open at the back of his parent’s walk-in closet. “I never realized your bathroom opens right up to the hot tub. Totally cool.”
“It’s your bathroom now,” she said, following him onto the patio where they had set up a physical therapy table in place of the patio furniture. They’d long ago installed a retractable glass enclosure so that the patio could be used year-round. “We thought this would come in handy for when your physical therapist comes over.”
“Yeah, and if he brings his daughter, Ellen and I can hang out in the hot tub afterward.” He wheeled right up to the Jacuzzi and splashed his hand into the hot water then turned and grinned at his mom. “With her father chaperoning of course.”
“Of course,” she teased. “And probably your father as well since it’s going to take both of them to lift you into the tub.”
“Yeah, that’s gonna suck,” Alex grumbled. “Can’t do anything for myself anymore.”
“At least you’re alive, son.” She glared at him pointedly. “You’re lucky to have lived through that accident.”
“Yeah, I know.” Alex sighed. “Keep reminding me of that on the tough days, okay?”
“God must have a pretty important purpose for you on this earth to have brought you back to us,” his mom whispered.
“Yeah… guess I’d better keep my eyes and ears open to figure out what that is,” Alex said, gazing out at the Niagara River that flowed past their home.
“I’m going to get dinner started,” his mom said quietly. “You enjoy the view as long as you’d like and holler if you need any help later.”
She leaned down and kissed the top of his head, then walked away, leaving him contemplating his purpose in life.