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On This Day

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Through My Eyes

By Ashley Minke

It seems like only yesterday when everything was turned upside down. Now here we are only a day away from the 4 year anniversary of Daniel’s death.

The memories of that fateful day are still so clear, the morning was beautiful, I sat with Andrea for an hour or so discussing life as we often did, and the possibility of moving in with her and Danny.

My aunty from Kangaroo Island was over and we had organized a girl’s day in the city shopping. After a few hours, looking around the malls and catching up it was time to think about heading home, I remember ringing Daniel and asking him if it would be alright if I could get the train to his work, and catch a ride home with him, he seemed distracted, as people often do when there working, he said that was fine, and I told him I would see him shortly. That was the last conversation that I ever had with him.

I made my way to the train station to catch the train which would have got me to Daniel’s work at about 1:20 pm, but just missed it and had to catch the one that would get me there by 1:35 pm, which at the time seemed more practical anyway, Danny didn’t finish work until 2 pm, so I wasn’t going to have to wait as long. What I wouldn’t have given now to have aught that earlier train. Maybe I would have been able to put and fear that he may have had, at ease. I could have told him he was going to be fine, that I loved him. But it wasn’t to be.  It’s strange where your mind wanders when you’re left alone with your own thoughts. I remember the train ride to Danny’s work, there was a cute old couple holding hands, they seemed so in love, so happy even after so many years together. I remember wondering if Daniel and I would be like that when we were old, he always told me that we would grow old together. Little did I know that at almost that exact moment Daniel was about to begin the ultimate fight for life, a fight that no love would be able to concur. I meet mum at the station, around the corner from Diemould, and she was going to drop me to meet Daniel. I rang his phone to let him know I was just around the corner. An unfamiliar voice answered, I just assumed that it was a work mate, and I told him I would be there in a minute, the voice at the other end said “that would be fine”.We pulled onto the road and I could see that there seemed to be some sort of commotion happening at Daniel’s work, there were fire and police vehicles around the building. Oblivious to what had just happened I got out of the car and told mum I would be fine, it was probably just a fire or something he worked in a factory after all. There weren’t any ambulances around, so no one was hurt.

I crossed the road, and wandered over to a couple that seemed to be in shock, I asked them what was happening? And with five small words the guy simply said “do you know Daniel Madeley” I instantly knew there was something terribly wrong. I screamed out to my mum to stop, and there in front of me was the voice who had answered Danny’s phone only moments earlier, a police officer. I could tell by the look in his eyes something awful had happened, he said I should sit down, he was trying to brace me for some unpleasant news, I remember asking him “is he alive, is he alive”, it seemed like he couldn’t give me a straight answer, he was saying Daniel had lost a lot of blood and the force of the accident had removed both of his feet and caused a lot of damage to one of the major blood vessels in his arm, what did this all mean? Was he alive? Was he going to live? I was only 17 and the love of my life, my soul mate was fighting for his life.

With what sense I had I said to the officer “you have to get me to him, NOW”. Mum came running to where I was standing; all I could say was “Daniel has been in an accident” and that we had to get to flinders as soon as possible.The drive from Edwardstown is normally a five minute drive but on that day it felt like everyone in Australia was on the road, and all I could think was the worst, that I was about to lose my boy.

When I arrived at emergency they escorted me to a room where they weren’t able to tell me anything and all I could do was wait. Andrea arrived shortly afterward.We sat in the small room for about 2 hours contemplating what the extents of Danny’s injuries were. A doctor came and gave us an update, he said that they had stopped the bleeding from his leg/feet injuries and that he was induced into a coma to better help his body handle the shock of such a traumatic accident, and that they were moving him to critical care to monitor his internal injuries more closely.

I remember sitting in the hall of the hospital, still unable to see him, thinking that I was going to lose him, everyone was saying be positive, you have to be strong. I wanted to be strong, did everyone think that I didn’t want to be strong and hopeful that Danny would survive; it was an inner feeling though I felt something slipping, a piece of me was fading away.

Daniel is and was my soul mate and my soul was hurting. I wanted to be strong. I was terrified. I was only 17. And this wasn’t the way life was meant to be. We still had so many plans, the house, marriage, children, and one day eventually sitting on the porch when we were old and grey and laughing about how great life was, as he so often said he could imagine doing. Strange for an 18 year old male, they usually only have one thing on there minds, as many of the boys Danny’s age so often proved. Not this one though, no he was the catch of a life time, one of a kind, a diamond in the rough. And now all that was hanging in the balance. Of course I wanted to be strong, but it’s hard to forget what your reality could soon become at a time like that, and that reality was my worst nightmare.  I really didn’t have much perception of time, but after what felt like a life time, a doctor came to give us an update, we were escorted to a small room, where the doctor proceeded to tell us that Daniel had extensive internal injuries and that there was a 90% chance he wouldn’t survive. This man sitting across from us was expressionless; did he not just realize what had come out of his mouth? Didn’t he care? Still they said to remain positive! But all I could think was there was only a 10% chance I was ever going to be able to hear his voice again, to feel his arms rap around me at night, that nightmare was becoming more real by the minute. Hours passed and the pain and crying still seemed relentless the tears had dried up though, my eyes felt like they were on fire they were burning. There were less people around now waiting, most had gone home. I couldn’t leave, I had to be right there waiting for any news. It was late and the doctors said that Danny was stable; they suggested that Andrea, Sam and I try and get some rest. I couldn’t think about resting, I wasn’t at home in our bed next to Daniel, how was I meant to rest, my special someone was hurt and there was nothing I could do. I had family staying in the hospital my young cousin was sick and her and my uncle Colin were in the children’s ward, so on the doctors advice, and in fear of being alone I went to lay down for a while until it was early enough to go be with Daniel. I think that it’s safe to say not only didn’t I sleep that night, it seemed like the morning was never going to come. I think it was about 7 am, when I decided that it was a good time to get back down to be with Danny. I went into the room he seemed peaceful, like he was just sleeping. I asked the nurse if I could sit with him a while.

I stroked his hand and face and took everything I could in. I told him that he was going to be fine, that this was just a minor obstacle that we would get through together, I wanted so much to believe it was just a minor obstacle, but I knew that if he did survive it was only the beginning of an on going battle, one that I would have happily endured to be by his side. He was so handsome, how did I get so lucky I thought to my self, and not only did he have the looks he had a beautiful personality & soul too.

The doctor said that he was still in a stable condition. He said that it was a good sign that he had made it through the night with no set backs. I thought then that it wouldn’t hurt to leave the hospital just for a little while, have a shower and try and eat something, I wouldn’t be long. I left for about an hour, only to return to more bad news, Andrea hadn’t returned from home yet, but Danny’s father and his family were all there. They looked devastated, and there in front of me was Stuart, who I hardly knew. He was never really a big part of Danny’s life, we only saw him a couple of times a year, at the special occasions Danny’s grandma would plan.And with no tact he blurted out that the doctors had run brain scans when we were at home, only to find out that there was little oxygen getting to the brain.

I had no idea what to think, did this mean that Danny wasn’t going to survive, and how dare Stuart tell me this. I was so angry, and there was no one there I could turn to, I wasn’t really close to Danny’s dads family. Andrea was just around the corner when I rang, she said to keep calm, and she would find out was happening when she got back.

 It was about 2:30pm when all Danny’s friends came back to see how he was doing, we were all sitting in the waiting room together. I remember having a conversation with Brett, I said “what if he doesn’t survive, I have this horrible feeling” Brett just looked at me and said that I shouldn’t think that way. I could sense the frustration in his voice, he didn’t understand why I had such little faith. It was a gut feeling though. Which a short time later, would turn out to be the reality that we all would have to face. Brett suggested we all go get something to eat, they all knew Id been there all night, and thought a distraction would be a good Idea.

There was a little café just outside the hospital, I couldn’t think about food but it was good to be around all Danny’s friends for awhile. We sat there for about half an hour, when Brett said maybe we should think about heading back up, I hesitated for a moment and asked if we could sit for a bit longer, there was something overwhelming in the air, something was seriously wrong. We got up and headed back into the hospital. Thinking about that moment, I can see everything in slow motion, I watch this moment over and over like it was happening to someone else, but it’s me I’m watching. As I walk up the corridor with all Danny’s friends around me, I took a deep breath, as I turn the corner to the I.C. ward, there in front of me is Andrea; the look on her face stops me dead in my tracks. She glances over and without having to say anything, I see exactly what she’s about to say, it’s written in her eyes, she’s broken, and I know why. “I’M SO SORRY” she manages to mumble. I think to myself this isn’t happening, I refuse to believe it. I lose all strength and drop to the ground, screaming, people are trying to pick me up, and I just want them all to leave me alone. I find what strength I have left to get to my feet,

Andrea tells everyone that its time to say goodbye, and that she will be alone with him when they shut all the machines down.

It’s not over, it can’t be over. This isn’t the way it’s meant to end. My mind was going crazy. He said we would be growing old together, and 18 were neither my idea nor his of growing old together.How could this have happened? There was still so much he had to see and do.

Before I knew it I was fighting to save any essence of Danny that I could, some may say it was madness. But it in my eyes it was far from it, I was completely sane, and I wasn’t going to let go without a fight. I asked Andrea if there was any chance that we could extract sperm, so that one day when I was old enough I could make a decision, and still have a piece of Danny, and he would live on, it would be a part of him, something he helped create. It wasn’t possible though, the doctor said that you need patients consent. So this was it, this was how it was to end. WHY? WHY? WHY?I went in and sat with Danny while all the boys came in one by one and said there goodbyes, but the more I heard goodbye, the less I wanted to believe it. I begged him to wake up, to just fight a little bit more, I was being selfish, but I couldn’t see how I would survive with out him. I kissed him over and over, some how I knew he could feel us all there, I told him I loved him, more than he could ever have imagined, and that I would see him one day, when we could be together again. Leaving him was the hardest thing that I think I will ever have to endure in my life.

But the pain didn’t stop there. Little did I know that the days and weeks ahead would hold scrutiny, and very little thought for a person most saw as JUST THE GIRLFRIEND! That’s what my relationship with Daniel seemed to be reduced to by most. I was young in there eyes. There was still plenty of time to find someone else. I didn’t want anyone else, I wanted Daniel. So rather than being able to deal with everything that had happened I found my self defending what me and Danny had. I was forever trying to convince people that it was never going to be the same. I would never feel what I felt for Danny; the soul isn’t big enough for two.

I love you Daniel, and there isn’t a day that goes by that makes my heart hurt any less. Your were one of a kind. All that time you thought you were lucky to have me. The truth is I was the lucky one; I had the privilege of being able to love you and be loved by you. Our love will live on forever, unable to be tarnished by time, until I see you again my gorgeous man. I love you, and ill see you one sunny day.

Ashley xxx