Emily had always been brighter than bright; 4 years ahead of everyone else herage in school she didn’t have any friends but she didn’t mind; ‘Friends get in the way of genius’ she thought. There was no doubt she had many varied gifts and talents but humility wasn’t one of them.
By the time she hit 12 years old she acted 17 and it was then that her world began to dull, to get quieter. Refusing to admit anything was wrong, Emily tried to hide her increasingly diminished hearing by reading more before classes to try and keep up but it became harder and harder for her to predict what subject the teacher was going to teach next. Some nights she would stay up until 2am reading and then get up again at 6am to carry on.
Noticing her falling behind, Katie, a girl in her class kept an eye on Emily. Katie was the first to see the tell tale signs that Emily was about to pass out one morning before registration, just as she entered the classroom. As quick as she could, Katie was by her side as soon as she started to fall. “What’s going on in here?” the teacher bellowed before putting 2 and 2 together and calling an ambulance.
The doctors at the hospital had no need to ask questions as Katie volunteered all the answers they needed. By the time Emily’s parents had reached the hospital the entire medical staff were aware that Emily was completely exhausted and had very worrying hearing difficulties.
Her parents, of course, denied this as they had no knowledge of any of it. ‘Emily has taken care of herself for years’ they explained before shrugging off Katie’s diagnosis, which was now backed up by medical tests, as absurdity.
“We believe Emily lost whatever hearing she had left when she hit her head in the fall” the doctor concluded, “you can see her now, but not for too long. She needs a lot of rest”. At this Katie ran into the room that the doctor had gestured towards before anyone could stop her. Emily’s parents, however, declined to do the same much to the unanimous judgemental shock of the nursing staff.
Inside her own private room, Emily sat shocked herself. This little girl she’d paid very little attention to previously was sat beaming up at her making all kinds of peculiar gestures. It took a second for Emily to realise it was sign language, ‘wouldn’t usually take me that long to figure out such an obvious activity’ she thought, silently condemning herself. After a short period of getting no response Katie took out a folded piece of white paper from her pocket and scribbled the words: ‘I figured you were going to go completely deaf at one point so I learnt sign language in advance’ with an added smiley-face. For the first time in her life Emily felt cared for, humbled and vulnerable all at once; not sure how to deal with such a concoction of emotions she began to cry and then cry more as guilt washed over her for ‘appearing weak’. Instinctively Katie held her hand while scribbling, ‘don’t worry’ and then another smiley-face with her free hand.
“You’re ambidextrous” Emily muttered. They had been both the first and the last spoken words between what was to become the two best friends anyone could ever imagine.
It’d odd how life works; I had to lose something as precious as my hearing in order to discover something so much more valuable that I had previously overlooked. Intelligence can get one so far but sometimes it takes the kindness of a stranger to really make a difference.
Those were the words with which Emily started her autobiography aged only 32. You see, she had become one of the most celebrated authors of all time in only 20 years. As it turned out, her excessive reading gave her a passion for literature that lead her to write her first book. A book that instantly topped the best seller charts only to be replaced by its sequel 7 months later.
In 20 years Emily had written no less than 34 novels and 12 non-fiction texts on a whole range of contemporary and classic topics.
None of this success could have been achieved without the constant encouragement and support from Katie who had rescued her from a potentially empty, lonely, void of a life.
No longer was Emily overcome with pride, it had been replaced with gratitude and regret that she’d taken everything for granted in the first place.
For a while after her hospital stay she couldn’t help but think that God was punishing her for being ‘an ungrateful spoilt brat’ but now she knew better. It was indeed an undeserved blessing in disguise.