Saturday afternoon Uncle Randy with his girlfriend Marcy and Jesse and Shawn’s three cousins accompanied by their significant others came over for a BBQ. All were sitting outside, enjoying the nice weather, grilling Hamburgers, Steaks and Hot Dogs. Everyone had brought something, a side dish or beverages. There was plenty of beer and food for a good time on a nice summer afternoon.
It was meant to be a family get together before Jesse would have to leave in a week. Randy was their dad’s brother and only close relative living nearby. After Jesse and Shawn’s dad had passed away, Randy sort of took over the role of a father to Jesse and Shawn and was always checking on the guys, making sure they were doing okay and managing on their own.
After Shawn’s accident Randy was there for Jesse, helping him through the ordeal of communicating with doctors and all the hospital staff about Shawn. He helped Jesse with all the administrative paperwork and things that had to be taken care of and also helped them out financially when Jesse didn’t work for a few weeks right after Shawn’s accident.
Randy was a man of little words, but he cared for the guys like they were his own sons. His adult children Colby, Danny and Ceci basically grew up with Jesse and Shawn. Their mother, Randy’s late wife Erica had died of cancer six years earlier. Marcy, his girlfriend of two years was a kind woman, who had no kids of her own. She enjoyed the small family she had gained by being with Randy. On many occasions she would invite Jesse and Shawn over for dinner or she would bring them dinner to the house. Randy’s kids had also accepted Marcy in their midst and felt that she was good for their dad.
As they all sat around the fire that night, Jesse told them about Trish and even though his uncle was suspicious he still supported Jesse with his decision to hire Trish for the time being. They didn’t talk about the initial problems when Trish had come to the house for the interview and they lied about Shawn’s wrist telling everyone he had fallen out of his bed. Jesse did most of the talking and no one really questioned it, instead they joked around about having side rails installed on Shawn’s bed and Shawn protested that very much but everyone was laughing.
The family left at almost midnight and Shawn still sat by the fire when Jesse came back out of the house and grabbed two more cold beers from the cooler.
He handed one to Shawn and plopped himself on a lawn chair, “That was a good get together, huh?”
Shawn took a sip from his beer, “Yeah, it was, it was a nice night.”
They were quiet until Shawn picked up the conversation again and remarked lowly, “Summer will almost be over when you get back from your job.”
Jesse drank from his bottle and replied, “Yeah, pretty much…about five weeks, it'll be the middle of September. I should be tanned nicely by then.”
Jesse laughed a little but Shawn stayed serious looking into the fire, “It’ll be weird.”
Jesse sighed, “What?” He looked over at Shawn, “Please don’t complain about the whole deal with Trish again. I'm not going to go over that anymore”
Shawn was rolling his bottle in between his hands, ”No! You being gone for so long is going to be weird.”
Jesse looked into the fire, “Shawn, I'll come back, you know.”
Shawn shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know, they might hire you on for another out-of-state job or something.”
“Bro, don’t worry about that yet. Right now I have this job for five weeks and then we'll see." Jesse paused and then added, “Are you really that worried about me being gone?”
Shawn sounded tense, “Hell yeah…I can’t help it. I'm freaking out a bit that the only person that has been through all this shit with me for the last year or so is kind of leaving me.”
Jesse sat up and sounded tense, “Dude, don’t make me feel bad, okay?”
He drank from his beer again and added, “This is not easy for me either, Shawn so don’t talk about it anymore.”
With that Jesse got up and Shawn looked after him as he walked away and he saw him kick some dirt hard with his foot making if fly through the yard and then hitting the shed.
Jesse stopped by the shed, he turned around and said tensely, “Shawn, I’ve done everything I can so you're taken care of while I’m gone. Am I going to worry about you…yeah! I am worried…big time…but stop making me feel bad.”
Shawn realized Jesse was angry again and it startled him when Jesse suddenly threw his beer bottle full blast against the shed, where it shattered into pieces, leaving trails of beer running down the wood siding.
As Jesse walked away toward the house Shawn called after him, “Jesse! I’m sorry that I’m panicking. You're the only person I have.”
Shawn was about to put his hands to his rims to spin his chair around and follow Jesse toward the house but Jesse turned around sudden and came over in quick strides. Shawn worried he had pushed Jesse too far again. He opened his mouth to say something but was afraid.
As Jesse towered in front of him Shawn kept his eyes down, swallowing and expecting to be pulled out of the chair or something as he felt his body tremble.
Jesse suddenly leaned down, Shawn expected a slap and said quickly, “Jesse, I'm sorry, man. I'm not trying to make you feel bad.”
The slap didn’t come but instead Jesse squatted down in front of Shawn, “Look at me!”
Shawn looked up slowly and had Jesse right at eye level in front of him.
He swallowed and Jesse said low but stern, “Yes, I'm the only person you have had in your life lately but I can’t always be there for you Shawn, you have to let me go, okay. You’ll be in good hands with Trish, Uncle Randy is close by, Marcy, and our cousins, you're not alone.”
He looked Shawn directly in the eyes when he said, “You may be tied to this wheelchair but you cannot tie me to it Shawn. I'm always going to be there for you, maybe not physically but in here…you understand!”
With his words he softly tapped his fist to his heart, swallowed and continued, “Shawn, I love you, but you have to take your life into your own hands. You are not dead, you can still do lots of things! You could possibly find a job or go back to school. I cannot and will not pick you up forever and pull you through life in this damned chair. You still have your hands and your head. I have been in this hole with you for long enough now, things have to change Shawn. You have to be strong and I know it’s difficult for you but I know you got it in you, little brother. You always had the harder head of the two of us. I will be there for you, I will be beside you and behind you, but I will not be in the front anymore. I will never leave you hanging but you have to start doing your part. I know you can do it!”
At Jesse’s stern words Shawn was fighting his emotions.
With a trembling voice he replied, “You’re right, but I don’t know if I can do it though.”
“Yes, you can!” Even only in the flickering light of the fire Shawn saw Jesse’s very serious expression, “Shawn, I know you can do this! We can do this! Everything will be all right.”
Jesse had said the exact same words many times while sitting at Shawn’s bedside in the ICU for weeks. Back then Shawn wasn’t able to talk or move much. Sometimes those had been the only words Jesse would say during his visits, just looking into Shawn’s eyes, Shawn’s face full of fear and confusion about the situation and all Jesse would say was, “Everything will be all right!”
Now he slightly leaned in on Shawn, “I love you man.”
Shawn lowered his eyes and sighed, “I love you.”
Jesse held out his fist toward him and Shawn knuckle bumped him.
Like the conversation from a moment ago hadn’t even happened Jesse got up and asked, “Are you ready to go in?”
Jesse got behind Shawn’s chair and pushed him over the bumpy yard toward the ramp, then he let go and Shawn wheeled himself up the ramp.
Inside the house Jesse asked, “You got it from here?”
Shawn nodded, “Yeah!”
Jesse added, “I'm going to pick up outside and make sure the fire is going out.”
Shawn made his way slower than usual to his bathroom. It was still difficult to do things with his left hand in a cast. In the bathroom he had some difficulties too. After he washed his hands thoroughly it took him a while to fiddle with the catheter with the cast on his left hand but he managed to finally drain his bladder.
He unbuckled the soft strap over his thighs holding his legs together and in place. Lifting his legs off the foot rests his feet dropped to the floor with his legs falling to the left and right side. His clothes and hair smelled like smoke from the fire and he had to get in the shower for sure. He managed to wriggle his grey sweat pants over his butt, he had not put on any boxers in the morning, because he knew he wouldn’t go anywhere and it made it easier to get to his privates without boxers on when he had to catheterize. His legs were falling to the side still and he held them in place some to get his pants down. He then pulled his T-Shirt over his head and finally naked in his wheelchair he eyed the shower chair and thought for a moment how to best carefully transfer with his casted hand. He pulled his wheelchair as close as possible to the bathtub edge and breathing heavy he slid his butt onto the edge of the tub and leaning on his left fist then holding himself steady with both his hands. He then moved his legs over the tub edge, realizing as always how heavy his legs really were. He felt wobbly and somewhat out of breath. When he finally had his legs in the tub, he slid the rest of his body over onto the shower chair and breathing quickly he leaned onto the back rest of the chair trying to steady himself, his left hand holding on to the handle on the bathtub wall. For a moment he was just breathing, thinking about how it was so much harder not to be able to use the full strength of his hand and arm with the cast. His arms were so important for his transfers and moving about or shifting even in the bed. His eyes travelled down his lifeless legs, then up to his pubic area and glancing at his sleeping penis he felt a moment of frustration. The whole broken wrist issue didn’t help his confidence level very much, he felt clumsier than ever and just the ordinary daily tasks were going to be exhausting for the next couple of weeks.
As Shawn eventually turned on the water and tested it with his right hand for the appropriate temperature he finally let the water run over his legs and body, the whole time holding on to the tub handle with his casted left hand. It was challenging to only use one hand for showering. He also had to be aware not to get the cast wet so he kept the water on low pressure and only carefully rinsed over his body, trying not to get any water on his left arm. Eventually he held his left arm up over his head when he wetted his hair. It was all very complicated and he was frustrated. After a moment of letting the water run over his body and hair, suddenly the shower head slipped out of Shawn’s hand and dropped to the bathtub floor, in the process spraying water outside of the tub and all over the place. Shawn held his arm up still but couldn’t really reach the shower head by his feet and let out an angry curse, “Shit!”
Momentarily after the noisy commotion it knocked, “Shawn, you got it?”
Shawn answered in frustration, “Actually not really.”
Jesse stepped into the bathroom and without any questions he quickly peeked around the shower curtain and saw the untamed shower head by Shawn’s feet and handed it back to him, then got busy picking up all Shawn’s clothes and tossed them into the laundry basket.
He looked around the shower curtain again and saw Shawn was struggling to get the soap on his sponge, “It’s difficult with your hand, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, kind of.”
Shawn was very frustrated about his situation and with every clumsy attempt to somehow get all this done he saw flashes of the next couple of weeks in his mind and instead of Jesse peeking around the shower curtain he saw Trish and he couldn’t even imagine her seeing him like this.
Jesse ended up helping Shawn wash his hair and getting done in the shower. Even though Shawn’s hand was held rigidly in the cast he couldn’t grab that well and he couldn’t really put any weight on the cast either and had to avoid getting the cast wet.
Finally a sweaty Jesse stood in Shawn’s room with Shawn clean and fresh in his bed, “Okay man, are you good?”
“Good Night then.”
As Jesse walked toward the door Shawn said lowly, “Jesse?”
Jesse turned around, “Hhm?”
“Thanks for everything.”
Jesse just smiled and walked out. He left the door open. Shawn heard how Jesse got in the shower as well but soon the house became quiet and Rocky laid curled up on Shawn’s foot end purring in his sleep.
Sunday was easy going, the brothers stayed home and Shawn actually figured out how to play Video games even with the cast on. He didn’t do as good as usual but was still able to play.
Later on Jesse washed his truck while Shawn sat on the porch and looked on. He would definitely miss Jesse around and even though after the small episode the night before and all the things Jesse had said to him, Shawn had decided he needed to try harder to take control of his life again and cut Jesse some slack. He knew he had been holding his brother back and Jesse obviously was done with that now. Jesse was ready to move on and he was right about work or school, Shawn needed to get himself out of the hole again. The self-pity and guilt trip had to come to an end.
Trish had left the pub Friday night with lots of emotions inside. She still couldn’t believe she would actually be Shawn’s personal assistant and had doubts about her decision. She was very nervous, but she would try to see him from a professional point of view, a client she would assist in daily living issues and things that would come up for a young paraplegic man. Just the word “paraplegic” in her head gave her goose bumps and pairing that with Shawn gave her more of a shiver. It had always been inside her and now she was in a position some of the girls she knew from her online community could only dream of. She hadn’t posted anything about Shawn on the online message board and decided she would have to wait and see how things would go with him.
All these years she had kept it inside, trying to ignore the facts that for some reason she would always check out who would be parking in the handicapped spots in front of stores, or that she would have the urge to touch a nice sporty wheelchair, that she would actually stalk a guy in a wheelchair in a store, that she could hear the clicking sound of crutches on a floor over a distance or that she would look at pictures of attractive men in wheelchairs on the Internet.
It wasn’t any guy in a wheelchair, she could be surrounded by a bunch of old men in wheelchairs at her job and it didn’t do anything for her. She was interested in guys her age, a bit younger or older was no big deal but if they were attractive to her and in a wheelchair or used any other orthopedic device such as crutches or some kind of braces, her heart and mind were racing. Her deepest desires and yearnings had been kept inside for so long.
With Shawn these desires coming true were only an arm’s length away and even though she was very scared she just had to do it. Her career path in Physical Therapy was another way for her to deal with her feelings. Even though she tried to forget, Shawn stayed on her mind all weekend and through the last full week at her job.
Everyone was sad to see Trish reduce her hours at the Senior Citizen Community but they were understanding in her decision to further her career goal to one day be a Physical Therapist. She was going to keep her job as the Water Aerobics instructor twice a week and only work half days at the Senior Citizen Community. She had discussed this prior with Jesse and it wouldn’t be a problem.
Toward the end of the week she had all her things packed. She would always be able to go back to her apartment at any time to get clothes or things she needed. Trish shared a small two bedroom apartment with another girl, Shelley. They had lived together for two years and were harmonic roommates. Shelley was a full time college student and worked as a waitress at night. She received financial assistance from her parents. Trish on the other hand was on her own.
Trish's mother didn’t live close by and couldn’t help her out financially. She tried to see her mom every couple of weeks, she lived about four hours away. Trish’s father had left her mom when Trish was a young girl and she had only occasional contact with him.
Trish had been in several relationships but nothing ever too serious and she had just went through a break up with her boyfriend of two years, Corey. With the break up from Corey she had vowed to stay single, focus on her college classes and not throw herself on another guy too quickly. Now there was Shawn in her life and she couldn’t get him out of her head.
At 26 years old Trish felt it was time to get her life together now. It was definitely going to change with the new challenge but she hoped very much it would be a good and positive change.