Survivor's Guilt - Page 17

“Oh . . . that,” I said as the memory came back to me. “I asked him 'why me,' and he told me.”

She just . . . observed me after I said that, patiently waiting for me to tell her something I hadn't already told her. If what I had to say next hadn't been so serious, I would have been in serious danger of laughing out loud at her expression.

“He told me that he knew he only had time to grab one person at most since he'd need one hand to hang on to his horse,” I said quietly. “It's true I was the closest one to him, but that alone wasn't enough to make the decision for him.”

The old pain came back, but it was a pain I'd grown familiar with; maybe in time I'd even make peace with it. “It wasn't a matter of anyone being 'better' or 'worse' than anybody else, he said. He didn't know any of us well enough to make that kind of decision, but he still had to make a choice.”

The doc just nodded.

“He didn't know what the 'right' choice was,” I continued. “He just knew a choice had to be made, so . . . he made one.” I laughed just a little because it seemed like a healthier thing to do than crying. “He picked me because I was reaching out to him, and that made it possible for him to grab me the fastest.” I exhaled my pain as best I could like the doc had taught me. “Simple as that.”

“As simple as that,” she repeated, and even then not knowing who she really was, I was struck by how . . . proud she sounded.

“Yep,” I said with a nod. “Then he told me that he'd had to learn to live with making decisions like that, and that it would mean a lot to him if I could too, if only for his sake, but if I really didn't want to do that . . .”

I felt my voice catch here, but I got it back pretty quickly after another breath. “That he'd . . . understand, because he might have saved my life, but the decision if I was going to live or not had to be mine.”

Page 17

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