Chapter 1 – Fading Memories
Looking down to where her feet should be, all Molly could see was a swirling mist. Ahead of her, through the mist she was able to capture glimpses of what appeared to be an old wooden staircase. These stairs felt like old friends and she smiled as her hand grasped the familiar timber bannister railing. As Molly placed her foot on the bottom step, the mist began to clear, but all that was visible to her were the wooden stairs leading up to a door. She could feel her heart beat increasing with excitement as she walked slowly up each of the steps, the wooden treads creaking softly beneath the weight of her body. She paused on the landing at the top of the stairs, and took in the details of the door in front of her – the old wooden panels, which had the appearance of a rich red cedar timber with a white porcelain door handle, above this was a matching scratch plate, both were decorated with an outline of tiny pink roses. Beneath the handle was an ornate brass key hole. Reaching out to turn the handle, the door opened easily for her. The sense of relief washed over her as she pushed the door open, stepping boldly into the room. Before her was the old attic room, and everything was where it should be – the worn wooden floorboards, a rug in the middle of the room. To her left was an open fireplace in which there was a fire grate and a cast iron kettle. Facing the fireplace were two wing backed arm chairs upholstered in brightly coloured fabrics. Between these was an old wooden sea chest as a coffee table. To her right was an aged pine kitchen dresser on which was a beautiful fine china tea set and a matching water jug, cream coloured with pink rose buds. Further to the right of this was a brass daybed tucked in an alcove behind the door, where the roof slanted downwards. Directly in front of her was a dormer window, beneath which was an antique writing desk and an worn oak captain’s chair. The light in the room appeared dim, except for a candle on the window sill which burnt brightly, reflecting in the old rippled glass panes.
Molly heard a soft, swishing sound and turned to see a woman standing by the kitchen dresser, facing away from her. The sound came from the woman’s long skirt sweeping across the wooden floor as she moved. The skirt was of pin-striped fabric with a bustle at the back and a ruffle around the bottom, and she also wore a white blouse with a high collar, long sleeves, puffed at the top and fitted down her forearms. She turned towards Molly and smiled fondly. Molly felt immense relief, because the woman standing before her was her dearest friend, Grace Forrest! And she knew she had made it home again.
Grace stepped towards her wrapping her arms around Molly, holding her, supporting her, comforting her and whispered into her ear, “Welcome Home Mrs Molly Fergusson.”
The blissful sensation faded as Molly’s awareness began to return to her physical body lying in the hospital bed. She rolled over expecting to find Will’s body sleeping next to her. Instead, she felt the edge of the narrow single bed. Confusion swept through her mind as she tried to work out where she was. Molly opened her eyes to find herself alone in a bed in a private ward in the hospital. She thought this had been the dream! Where was Will? What had happened? And then she remembered her mum and Annabelle being with her yesterday…
There was a quiet knock at the door and respectfully Dr Sarah Te Awe Awe came into the room. “How are you this morning Molly?” She asked softly.
“Confused,” Molly replied flatly.
“Do you mind?” The doctor asked hinting towards sitting on the edge of the bed. Molly stared out the window, barely able to hold back the tears. Dr Te Awe Awe, took her hand and squeezed it tightly and said, “Molly, I know there is so much for you to be processing just now. And I want you to know that I, personally, doctor stuff aside, understand…in ways others would not. Molly turned and looked into the doctors deep green eyes, searching for something. Answers maybe. But what she found was trust. Molly knew that she could trust this woman. Sarah reassured Molly that she would be looking after her once she was discharged from hospital and gave Molly her personal mobile phone number. “I’ve got your hand in this Molly, you are not alone. Never alone. Text me and I will call you as soon as I can. Now, let’s get you ready to go home. I’ve got all of the papers here for you to sign, and I have made an appointment to see you professionally next week in my office. Remember Molly, you are not alone.” Dr Sarah took the signed discharge summary from Molly and left her to get ready, Tessa would be in soon to take her home.
* * * * * * *
Walking through the door of her family home, everything appeared very, very different. Molly felt disorientated. Since leaving the hospital just over an hour ago, she had the sensation of having landed from another country, as if she had been overseas travelling for a long time…
Needing to be on her own, she gave her mum a hug, whispered “thankyou” in her ear and excusing herself, went upstairs to her bedroom and shut the door. Looking around the room, she sighed deeply, curled up on her bed and cuddled the large toy dog sitting on the pillow. Although familiar, the room also felt strange, like a distant memory. The doctor had had a chat with her in private before discharging her from hospital. Now she was 21, Molly no longer required her mother to be present during such conversations. She loved her mum dearly, but Tessa had a tendency to be overpowering, dominating, and strong willed, despite always wanting the best for Molly, of what she perceived to be the best, often not considering what Molly thought or actually needed. She meant well.
Dr Sarah Te Awe Awe, the Neurologist, was intrigued by Molly’s case. Dr Sarah had a side to her life which she kept very private….her grandmother was a tohunga (Maori tribal medicine woman), knowledgable in Mirimiri (holistic massage), rongoa (herbal medicine) and experienced in spiritual, emotional and physical healing with a reputation which brought people to her from all over the country. In her 80’s now, she was still working most days of the week. Sarah had grown up fascinated by her Nanny’s work, which had inspired her to study medicine, in particular Neurology and Psychology. She had a different understanding of what Molly may have experienced whilst she was unconscious, and wished to discuss this in more detail with her privately. Dr Sarah had explained to Molly how intricate the mind is and that quite often, during periods of unconscious states, doorways or accesses become available – a little like a rabbit hole – seemingly endless avenues. She had asked to see Molly in a week’s time, just to check on how she was settling into life again. Molly’s confusion was obvious and the doctor reminded her to take each day as it came to her and not busy herself just yet on what she should be doing or needed to be doing.
Lying on her bed, her arms wrapped tightly around her fluffy dog companion, she closed her eyes. Sadness rushed through her body like waves of heat, tears prickled her eyes, her heart pounded. She was overwhelmed by the sensation of missing someone or something, already the details had faded and she could not quite grasp who or what it was. Memories of experiences she had whilst in the coma were diminishing quickly now that she was at home. They were fast becoming just a feeling. A beautiful feeling which was warm and fuzzy, it felt like……familiar, family, friends that she could not quite recall, the memory of which was just out of reach, like a fading dream on waking.
She got up from the bed and sat at the desk by the window which looked out across several roof tops towards the sea. Looking at the desk, Molly searched through the dishevelled pile of books and notes from college that she had dumped there in her end of year excitement, before going on the horse riding holiday with Annabelle. Having completed her studies in Fine Arts in Wellington, the previous year, she had felt this urge, nudge, prompt towards more study, of something more, but was unsure of what. However, all of that seemed pointless now. She felt stuck between worlds. One that was diminishing, of family and friends she could not quite grasp – faces and names having faded from memory already. The sadness engulfed her and tears streamed down her face. And then she remembered that Anna had been there, in this world that was slipping from her! Yes Anna! Molly looked around for her phone, rummaging through the mess on her desk and then through her handbag. But all she could find was an old flip phone and looked at it questioning herself whether it was actually hers as it looked so different. The battery was flat and she plugged it in to charge. Intrigued, she looked at it’s small simple screen and push button key pad. As it charged she continued to look for her iPhone. Opening the door of her room, she called out to Tessa, “Ma? Have you seen my iPhone? I can’t find it.”
Tessa came up the stairs to Molly’s room. Puzzled as to what Molly meant, she sat on the bed slightly concerned by the look of confusion, almost frustration on her daughter’s face. “What is it you are wanting Molly?”
“My iPhone, I can’t find it. Maybe I left it at the hospital or lost it at the equestrian centre….”
“Eye phone, what is that darlin’?” Tessa asked. “I don’t know what an eye phone is. What does it look like?”
Molly continued, her frustration increasing, “And where’s my iPad and laptop? Oh god, I must have left them at the horse farm!” Panic rose in Molly’s voice. “And where is Will? He should be here by now…..” Molly surprised herself at her own words. But even as she said the words, the memory slipped further away. She wanted to write this information down before it was gone completely. It would have to be with pen and paper. Going through the pile of books on her desk, she found the blank journal she had intended for the new year and a pen. Perplexed, she muttered under her breath, “I wish Anna was here,” and then in a louder voice, “Never mind Ma – I’ll work it out.” Her attitude softened as Molly saw the look of concern on her mother’s face, and she quickly changed the subject, “could I have a cup of tea please?” wanting to distract her mother and write these details down whilst she could remember them. Her mother hugged her, kissed her cheek and added, “and maybe just a couple of those wee raspberry jam tarts……” She cheered up seeing the faint smile in the corner of Molly’s lips. “Yes thanks Ma, that would be wonderful,” she replied.
The past two weeks had been so stressful for Tessa, emphasised by the lack of sleep and worry for her daughter’s unknown state of health. She was more than relieved to have Molly safely home again. She and Anna had kept a bedside ritual, either one of them was always by Molly’s bed, praying, talking to her, praying and waiting. The news of the accident itself was stressful, but the unknown was even more so. Molly had been airlifted unconscious by rescue helicopter from a farm in the Wairarapa to the hospital in Wellington. It has been painful to be so helpless, but the nursing staff had gotten her and Anna involved, encouraging them to talk to Molly and massaging her body to help with circulation. The physiotherapist had met with them, to discuss how they could help Molly, instructing them on how to gently warm the muscles and stretch her limbs. Molly had initially been unconscious, however the doctors had decided to put her into an induced coma for three days to help them to reduce the swelling around her brain. She had to remain lying flat with her head slightly elevated. The MRI had puzzled the doctors, indicating extensive brain activity, unusual after such an accident. She remained unconscious for 5 days, even after the third day when they had stopped the drug induced coma. They just had to let her regain consciousness on her own. During this time for Molly, it felt like she had been away on a long holiday, visiting so many different places, and meeting new people. It had felt like a very different life. She had tried to share this with her mum, but it seemed to spook her out, and Tessa would change the subject. Molly really wanted to share this with Anna, but was unsure how to start such a conversation.
Molly sat on her bed, propped up with pillows, her journal against her knees, opened it to the second page and wrote the word “Will”. But nothing more came, except the sensation of warmth. Love, it was the feeling of love. She closed her eyes and focused on this, hoping to retrieve some more memories associated with it. Startled, she thought she felt the touch of someones lips on her cheek, just next to the corner of hers. Touching her cheek with her fingers, she held onto the vague memory of whom that kiss had come from. It was Will, she knew it in her heart. A soft smile brought her sad lips back to life. Fumbling with the old phone, Molly awkwardly sent Anna a text message. No sooner had she sent it, the door opened and there was Annabelle with a tray of tea and tarts, her familiar smile helped Molly feel a little more at ease.
“Oh my god, am I glad you are here!” She exclaimed. Anna put down the tray and hugged her dear friend, holding her tight. “I thought we had lost you,” she said whispered quietly, emotion tight in her throat. Anna stepped back, shrugged off the feeling, held her dear friends hands and looked her up and down. “God woman, you have lost weight! Perfect excuse for some good food eh! Let’s start with tea and tarts, my Queen of Hearts! Man, am I so pleased we are done with studying. I’ve been thinking of taking a gap year, you know – having an OE, bit of travel and barista work…what do you think?” Anna rattled out her sentences one after another, so excited to be sitting with her bestie again. “Molly? What do you think?”
“Huh? Umm….sorry Anna. I am still feeling a little disorientated. Dr Sarah said it could take a little while for me to feel settled again. Anna…..it feels like I have been away on a long holiday overseas already, but the memories are fading quickly. I am still a bit confused about stuff. There is so much I want to share with you, and I am not sure where to start….”
But Anna was so excited to have Molly at home and there was so much she wanted to share with her, of what seemed to have happened in such a short time. Her sentences tumbled out one after the other, “Dillon’s folks gave him one of those new phones, an iPhone for Christmas, you know the kind, he can use the internet on it and there is no buttons to press, just a glass touch screen. It’s so cool. And he is soo cute, a bit of a hottie don’t you think? I reckon I’ll ask him out. What do you think Molly?” she asked noticing that her attention was elsewhere. Molly looked at her vaguely for a moment and then she realised Anna had been talking to her. “Hottie? Who?”
“Molly you ok?” Anna asked, her voice more subdued as she realised her friend was still not quite herself yet, misunderstanding the severity of what had happened to Molly. Concerned, she took her friends hand in hers, “You ok?” to which Molly replied, “Is there anywhere else you need to be just now?”
“Nah, I’ve come to hang out with my bestie!” she smiled and gave her a hug. Molly was unsure how to start this conversation. Anna opened up her backpack and produced a bottle of wine and a large packet of corn chips and a savoury dip. “Thought we could start with these! And a toast of course – Happy 21st Baybee!” Anna sang and handed Molly a gift. It was the birthday present Anna had wanted to give her the night they went horse riding. She had kept it in her bag whilst visiting Molly in hospital in the hope of her waking out of the drug induced coma.
Molly’s eyes brightened, “Thanks Anna, I feel like I have missed my birthday completely,” she laughed. “Can you believe I missed my own 21st Birthday?”
Anna had to stop herself from blabbing – they had been planning a surprise party for Molly now that she was home again. Anna was busting to tell her, and had to distract herself by encouraging Molly to open the present. “Can I open it now?” Molly asked, “Or should I wait til my next birthday?”
“Now! Now!” Anna shrieked with anticipation, excitedly bouncing on Molly’s bed. Molly unwrapped the gift painstakingly slow, taunting Anna. Opening the last fold, Molly revealed a box of tarot cards. A smile curved her lips as she stroked them affectionately. Quietly, she said, “Thanks Anna! Thanks for believing in me.” The smile had lit up Molly’s face. She looked up at Anna purposely holding her gaze. “Some weird stuff happened whilst I was unconscious – I don’t know how to explain it to you. It felt like I lived a whole life time in another place…. kinda…. sorta, but you where there too….” Her voice faded as she tried to find the words to describe it to Anna.
Anna’s energy settled as she looked at Molly more seriously. Intrigued to know more, she took Molly’s hands again and said, “start at the moment you woke up, what do you remember?”
Molly closed her eyes. Nothing. Impatiently she wriggled on the bed. Anna squeezed her hands, urging her to focus. “Molly, take a deep breath and relax, count 10 breaths and see what comes to mind.” The first impression Molly received was of the name tags of both Sr Grace Forrest and the delivery boy from Poppy’s, the florist – William Ferguson. As she shared this with Anna, Molly excitedly grabbed her journal. She wanted to write all of this down, keep a record of her memories, as they came to her. There was something significant about both these people, but she was unable to grasp any details just yet. With tea and tarts done, Anna opened the bottle of wine and the packet of corn chips. “Here maybe this will help you relax and remember a little more,” she said handing a full glass of Rose to Molly.
Tessa was respectful of giving Molly time alone with Anna, despite her growing curiosity of what they may be talking about. She was concerned about her daughter. It had been a nasty fall and despite the MRI showing that everything was clear, Tessa still felt that something of importance, a life changing experience had occurred for Molly.
The girls talked long into the night, until exhaustion took over and sleep came easy. Anna slept snuggled up to her dear friend, so glad to have her home safely. It had been traumatic for her too, watching Molly lying so still in that hospital bed, unsure of what the outcome for her would be. Anna was still concerned, but felt somewhat relieved and fascinated by the information Molly had shared with her this last night.
Molly woke from the dream with a start, she was sweating and tangled up in the sheet. In the dream she had heard a loud crack, and felt herself hitting the ground hard. As her mind drifted in and out of consciousness, she felt Grace holding her hand and saying to her, ‘It’s ok Molly, I have got your hand, I am with you, as always, you are never alone…..” Molly had woken to find herself lying in the hospital bed, with the nurse next to her bed, holding her hand. Through blurred vision she read her name tag – “Sr Grace Forrest”. It was then that she woke suddenly from the dream within a dream. The first thing she said out aloud was, “Where is Will?” as she sat up in the bed looking around the room. Her voice woke Anna, who mumbled sleepily, “Who’s Will, Molly?” And then Molly began to question herself, “Who is Will?” she asked herself silently. She really did want to remember.
Over the following weeks, Molly contemplated what it was that she wanted to do next. She was unsure whether to take up Anna’s suggestion of travel or to study. But still nothing seemed to feel right and she continued to have this sensation of disorientation. Then she remembered what Dr Sarah had said, to take one day at a time, to be patient. She decided to contact Dr Sarah and discuss this further. Dr Sarah returned Molly’s call and suggested, with her permission, that she could come for a house call, not completely professional but that she too had to trust her own instincts with this one. Molly agreed, more than relieved, that she did not have to go into the hospital again.