GRYLA Runner Up 2020

THE GIFT OF LIFE

Written by Athena Jiang, Year 10

July 21st, 2023

I did not believe in God until I received the gift of life.

My name is Angela Jane Mitchell, and I was the girl who was hit by that train in 2018. Many people know my name, having seen my story splashed across the news, many even prayed for my recovery whilst I was in surgery, but what they didn’t know…was that it was no accident, instead it was an intentional decision, and one which I have to live with for the rest of my life.

July 20th, 2018

The day I tried to take my own life. It’s weird when you say it like that…almost like I was still holding on, but I wasn’t, I was ready to let go. However, I didn’t want to go without a sound, I wanted to be heard and seen for once in my life, to be noticed and remembered, not for who I truly was…a coward…but for whom I could have become.

I set off for the train station to school, just like every morning. Except today I had absolutely no intention of making it there. As I stood on that train platform, my face was fierce with determination and my typical rebellious nature shone through.

As the train came racing towards me. I walked calmly towards the edge of the platform and stepped off…right past the yellow line which read “MIND THE GAP”. I could tell people started to take notice, but my mind blocked out the shouts and screams above me and simply focused on the incoming train.

I
WAS
READY.

As the train came towards me, I felt a rush of sweet adrenaline. Followed immediately by panic and regret as the moving metal structure came charging toward me. I hear the piercing screech of metal against the tracks as the driver frantically pushes on the brakes to stop the train. As the 3,000 tonne vehicle crashes into me. I knew I had made a fatal error…but it was too late.

As my motionless body laid there on the tracks, I went elsewhere. I watched my body from afar as I drifted into the sky above. A piercing white light guided me, I stood up and saw a long tunnel, as I walked through towards the light at the end, I cannot help but feel a sense of sorrow and regret, I made the worst mistake one could possibly make, and paid for it dearly.

As I emerged from the tunnel I looked around at the dizzying array of beauty around me, I was overwhelmed with emotion. A figure came towards me, yet I couldn’t make out his face, but something in my mind knew without a doubt, he was God. I pleaded with him because I had made a mistake and I didn’t really want to die yet. As I stood there for what felt like forever…I began to fall, in the distance I could see my own body again. My lifeless self on the operation table. As I rejoin my body I am startled by the sounds and noises which surround me. Beeping and artificial machines and the shouting and frantic voices of people. I drift off the sleep and wait for death to welcome me once more, but it never comes, and I am left lost and empty, but I had a single thought, God gave me a second chance at life.

July 23rd, 2018

I open my eyes to the sight of my mother and the feeling of absolute agony.

“Oh my goodness, thank god you’re okay.” I stared up into the eyes of my mother, I saw a heartbroken mother struggling to hold back tears. I looked at her and managed to say: “I’m sorry mum”, then I slipped into the sweet embrace of darkness and sleep again. As I dream on, I catch snippets of conversation surrounding me. My mother praying beside my bed, my classmates dropping off flowers, doctors and nurses talking in hushed whispers, and the muffled sobs of my father. As I lie in the darkness and comfort of my own mind, I prayed for the first time in years.

August 15th, 2018

The past couple of weeks blurred together, the important things are as follows:
I am an amputee (right leg)…boy was that a shock…actually I shouldn’t joke about such serious matters, it’s a coping mechanism.
Hospital food is disgusting
Bandages are not fashionable
I have been interviewed by 7 News Channels so far
My name is trending on Twitter
I want to get out of here

September 12th, 2018

I get to go home today. Finally released from the confines of this tiny hospital room, and go home. As we backed into the driveway, I knew things would be very different but I am glad to be back amongst the familiarity of my house again.

As I enter the front door for the first time in almost two months, I feel a sense of longing and regret. I look back into the eyes of my mother and she knows exactly what I am feeling, and without me asking, she steps forward to embrace me, I hug her harder.

October 30th, 2018

I’m getting my prosthetic today, I’ve been eagerly waiting for this day since the day I got out of the hospital. Life has somewhat returned to normal, and I am finding my rhythm again and getting used to my new ‘condition’

As I enter the sterile hospital again, I am overwhelmed, yet determined to not let my emotions get the better of me. I receive my new prosthetic, the baby pink colour compliments my rosy cheeks, an observation I noted when I looked in the mirror for the first time.

As I walk out of the hospital with my prosthetic for the first time, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I won! I feel the sunshine on my face and I close my eyes and smile. I open my eyes and take in the true beauty of this world and marvel at the work of God. The deep blue sky, the colourful flowers, each and every animal he carefully handcrafted, and ME, giving me a second chance.

March 12th, 2019

It’s my eighteenth birthday, and I am happy for the first time in years, the past year has been wild and crazy, but I am grateful for what happened. I have now come to terms with my past, and I am now ready to move on with my life and enjoy the second chance which has been graciously given to me. I’ve been going to church every Sunday, and everyday I thank God for what he has done for me, giving me a second chance at life. My relationship with my family and friends has also improved. It turns out, after almost dying, things that once seemed like the end of the world, are trivial to me now. I have now come to accept that life has ups and downs, and a huge part of learning is knowing how to deal with challenges.

For me, walking down the street is still a difficult task, people stare and they point, I still feel unsettled and uncomfortable, but I carry on and I keep my head held high.

July 20th, 2023

It’s been five years exactly since my brush with death, and I’m giving a Ted Talk in the city today, a special opportunity offered to me, a chance to tell my story. I stand on the very same train platform and feel the wind through my hair, I feel renewed.

I look around and a girl catches my eye, the look on her face is not so unfamiliar to me, as it was the same face of fearlessness that drove me to where I am today. She looks into the distance, and takes a step forward as the train tracks vibrate to the force of the oncoming train. I take a deep breath and run up to her, seizing my chance and grabbing her hand just as she is about to step off the platform. And I drag her back as hard as I could just as the train pulls into the station. We both fall towards the ground and I breathe a huge sigh of relief, and she snaps out of her dazed expression and turns towards me, and she says: “Thankyou”

I didn’t know what life had to offer until 5 years ago, when I stepped in front of that train I went to a place few people ever return from. I know that I made the right choice coming back, because today, I saved a girl from making the same mistake I did. I guess God really does work in mysterious ways.