I think it’s time I write about Dakota. I don’t think I ever have.
I got a text message a year ago tomorrow morning that said “Remember how you said you had a feeling something bad would happen to someone in our class?”
My heart stopped. I instantly thought someone had died. I had discussed this issue with my friend. A tragedy usually occurs in every class before graduation. It appears to be a right of passage at our school. I never dreamed it would actually happen.
I grew up with Dakota. We were in the same Sunday school class all the way through. His elf ears used to make me giggle. When I dated his best friend (Christian, the guy from a couple posts ago), the three of us hung out a lot. We spent hours after school at Dakota’s house across the street from school. We were in countless theater productions together. Monkeys together in The Jungle Book Kids; he, Cat in the Hat, and me, Gertrude, in Seussical Jr.; kids together in Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr... the list goes on from there. In the winter of 2011, I played his daughter, Anne, in Cheaper By The Dozen. There are so many memories from that play in particular. They are still fresh in my memory – some of the last memories I have of him.
Dakota had an accident; he fell and hit his head. The fall put him in a coma for months. When he finally got out of it, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) took hold. He currently resides at ECMC, where he has been for a whole year now.
We had grown apart during the later years of high school (the break up with Christian seemed to do it), but still had a connection from the childhood we spent around each other. We loved Veggie Tales and used to acolyte together at church. I never thought of him as anything more than another brother.
The last time I saw him before the accident, he was walking down the hallway from the art rooms in the school. He wore a grey shirt, black pants and had his headphones on. We sort of nodded at each other, but I didn’t say anything. I figured his music was probably too loud (we always had similar taste in music). I’ve regretted that ever since.
I haven’t been able to make it to ECMC since August. Last time I saw him, he was starting to twitch his body parts. His feet moved. His chest moved up and down with each breath intake. Like any other person with brain damage, his arms were bent with his hands up near his face.
He’s still at ECMC and is making progress every day. It’s very sad to see his – and his family’s – life on hold.
Having a friend like Dakota can open your eyes. We take a lot of simple things for granted; simple things that are very hard for Dakota.
The bracelet on my wrist reminds me of you every single day, Dakota. I will not – and can’t ever – forget the day my bad feeling came true.