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Time Out

Shatell Coleman

It was another crazy Monday at work. I was busy as usual, thinking about all the homework I should have done over the weekend. I was trying to figure out what I could do later and hoping I didn't have to stay too late. So much to do, so little time. As I was lost in thought, the phone rang. I put on my professional greeting and recognized the distressed voice on the other end immediately.

" What's wrong Yahni?" I asked.
" I'm in the hospital," she whispered.
" Hospital! What happened? Were you in an accident? Are you hurt?"
" I admitted myself a couple of hours ago for depression."

Depression, I thought, I just saw her yesterday. We were at church together. She came to see me teach my Pre-School Sunday School Class. She left the morning service early to pick up her mom and sister, to take them to the aquarium. We went shopping later and I thought things were going well.

" I woke up today and I couldn't move. I haven't been going to class lately, I've been calling off work at both jobs and you know I need the money. I seems like I'm getting high just about everyday just to cope. When I finally got out of bed, I asked my mom to take me to the emergency room."

I could hear the pain in her voice as she paused, before she continued.

" She didn't even ask why. She just dropped me off and kept going."

I wanted to leave at that moment. I should be there, but I couldn't because I was the only one working until the office closed at 7 p.m.

" What time are visiting hours?" I asked.
" I'm not sure, I'll-"
" Hold on for a sec, the other line is ringing." One of my closest friends is in the hospital and I need to take another call, I thought.
" I'll just call back when I have more information for you."
" Ok, don't forget. I'll be waiting to hear from you."
" Talk to you soon."
" Bye, Yahni."

As I answered the call, my voice lost its usual cheerfulness. What scared me most is when I realized that could be me. So many times I've felt like I was at the breaking point; feeling like I could not take on anything else. We both share with each other problems with school, relationships, and family, but I never thought it would come to this.

Yahni called back about an hour later and told me she was admitted now and had been taken to her room that consisted of a bed, dresser, and a small connecting bathroom. She had to use a community phone on the floor so she could not talk very long. She described a girl down the hall from her that shaved half of her head with a razor blade and repeatedly cut herself in the process. She had open sores, and kept asking Kim if she liked her hair and wanted her to style it like hers.

As I imagined her surroundings, strange faces, no loving voices, I thought I should be there with her, giving her a warm smile, and encouraging words. Then I began to think about what I would say. What comfort could I give? Although I didn't know exactly how she felt, I could understand why she did it. I could understand the need to take a leave of absence from life before the pressure gets so overwhelming that you can't think rationally. I know what it feels like to work two jobs and still struggle to pay bills and other responsibilities. I know what it feels like when you need to take off from work to study, but can't afford to miss a day's pay. I know what it feels like to be betrayed, hurt, or have your heart broken. Where the similarity stops, is when it comes to family.

What I don't share with my friend Yahni is the relationship she has with her family. Sure every child has family fights growing up, where hurtful words are sometimes exchanged, but I can say that I have never heard a curse word come out my parents' mouth. I have never questioned my parents' love for me. So many times I have heard stories of her mother calling her names or stepfather cursing at her and putting her down. Until that moment I never realized how blessed I am. When so much is going wrong in my life, I always have comfort in knowing my parents love me and do their best to encourage me. They are always praying for me, constantly giving words of wisdom to help me find my way. Just thinking about all of these things gave me hope.

I looked at the clock, 6:55 p.m., close enough I thought. I don't know how I made it through the day, but was glad it was over. I locked up the office, leaving a pile of work to be done the following day. I couldn't wait to go home.
As I drove down Lake Shore Drive, the tears that had been building up about Yahni began to fall. At that moment, I pulled over and put in one of my favorite gospel tapes. Be encouraged, no matter what's going on_ Be strong in the Lord and the power of his might, know in your heart, these battles he will fight_ Hold on trouble don't last always. As the words began to speak to me, they gave me the peace I desperately needed and the tears soon ceased.

When I arrived home that evening, I was the same person, but with a new sense of strength that wasn't there just an hour earlier at work. I ran some bath water and just as I was about to step in the tub, the phone rang. I really did not feel like talking, but thinking it might be Yahni, I answered it.

" Hello," I said, hearing giggling on the other end. I was not in the mood for prank calls.
" Hi. Howa' doin? Where's Nana? Where's Papa?"

My face lit up at the sound of my two-year-old niece, Ashley. What a welcome surprise, the gift of innocence. She'll never know how much her little words meant to me at that moment. She'll never know how something so simple can bring so much joy. Life can get you down sometimes but I will not be defeated. I have too much to be thankful for. It's the simple everyday things that we are blessed with that we sometimes take for granted, that make life worth while.

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