She lay on the bed surrounded by machines and lines, drifting in and out of consciousness.
Freedom – that word kept coming into her mind just before she drifted off again – Freedom.
Gradually she spent more and more time semi- conscious – Freedom – and the day eventually came when she opened her eyes and took in her surroundings. She took in the too bright window, the bed and the machines. What was she doing here, wherever ‘here’ was? A hospital, obviously, but she hadn’t had occasion to visit many hospitals so she couldn’t say which one. Freedom – there it was again. Why did that word keep drifting through her mind? She wanted to catch it, examine it, but it drifted away before she had the chance.
The realisation came slowly that something drastic had happened to her. One, her memory was very hazy, and two, she could no longer move her legs. Also any movement of her upper body lead to agonising pain. She recognised her parents and could picture the place she thought of as home, but anything leading up to ‘the accident’ had gone. She tired very quickly and was too exhausted to try and ask the questions that buzzed around in her head. Freedom.
Slowly, her periods of wakefulness grew longer and the staff began to answer her questions. Apparently she was paralysed below the waist. Her head had taken a nasty knock and she had concussion. That explained the memory loss. The broken ribs explained the pain in her chest. What had happened to her? A car accident? Freedom. The doctor had suggested she wait for her parents’ visit that afternoon. They could fill her in on the details of ‘the accident’.
“You were thrown from your horse,” explained her mother. “The horse was spooked by movement in the crowd and you were thrown over the jump.” Horse – crowd – jump? None of this made any sense to Rosa.
“Can’t you remember any of it?” asked her dad, lines of worry etched on his face. “You were competing in the Summer Championships. Had a real chance of a medal, too. Freedom is usually such a good, reliable jumper. She must have really been spooked.”
“Your beautiful grey mare. You two have been competing for two years.” This was all news to Rosa, but the mention of the horse’s name began to stir buried memories. Love swelled in her chest and she knew that she and Freedom had a special relationship.
“Is she ……?” she hardly dared ask.
“She’s fine,” said her mum, quickly. “Missing you I expect.”
Thinking of Freedom began to unlock her memories. Freedom also gave her the strength to recover, to work hard with the physio and eventually, to be discharged. The first place she wanted to go was the stables.
Her dad wheeled her up to the yard and the stable boy led Freedom out of her stable. The beautiful grey mare nuzzled Rosa and Rosa, smiling for the first time since the accident, lay her head against that of her horse.
“I might not have much freedom now, stuck in this chair,” she thought, “but I still have Freedom.”
Of course, it wasn’t long before Rosa was back in the saddle. She couldn’t jump and compete, but she could still enjoy riding.
An idea came to her as she was riding one day, feeling the freedom from the chair that Freedom gave her. She could help disabled youngsters to experience this same kind of freedom. She would set up a riding school for disabled children. She would call it ‘Freedom’.
Setting up the school gave Rosa a new lease of life. She was fortunate that her parents were able to help financially, and the whole family got involved in the running of the school. Life was not turning out as she had originally planned, but life was good.