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If I Stay (If I Stay #1)

By´╝ÜGayle Forman

t time, I can sense how fully agonizing staying will be.

But then I feel Adam's hand. Not sense it, but feel it. I'm not sitting huddled in the chair anymore. I'm lying on my back in the hospital bed, one again with my body.

Adam is crying and somewhere inside of me I am crying, too, because I'm feeling things at last. I'm feeling not just the physical pain, but all that I have lost, and it is profound and catastrophic and will leave a crater in me that nothing will ever fill. But I'm also feeling all that I have in my life, which includes what I have lost, as well as the great unknown of what life might still bring me. And it's all too much. The feelings pile up, threatening to crack my chest wide open. The only way to survive them is to concentrate on Adam's hand. Grasping mine.

And suddenly I just need to hold his hand more than I've ever needed anything in this world. Not just be held by it, but hold it back. I aim every remaining ounce of energy into my right hand. I'm weak, and this is so hard. It's the hardest thing I will ever have to do. I summon all the love I have ever felt, I summon all the strength that Gran and Gramps and Kim and the nurses and Willow have given me. I summon all the breath that Mom, Dad, and Teddy would fill me with if they could. I summon all my own strength, focus it like a laser beam into the fingers and palm of my right hand. I picture my hand stroking Teddy's hair, grasping a bow poised above my cello, interlaced with Adam's.

And then I squeeze.

I slump back, spent, unsure of whether I just did what I did. Of what it means. If it registered. If it matters.

But then I feel Adam's grip tighten, so that the grasp of his hand feels like it is holding my entire body. Like it could lift me up right out of this bed. And then I hear the sharp intake of his breath followed by the sound of his voice. It's the first time today I can truly hear him.

"Mia?" he asks.