Jene Frost; Little girl gone

It didn’t matter that she was 15 years old, some things never changed. Every Friday Jene would come back home from boarding school and she would sit on her mother’s lap and tell her about her week. It was probably one of the few times that Jene was still. Then afterwards, she’d hop in the bakkie with her father and they’d head off to their favourite dam to fish as they had done since Jene was little.

Rob Frost

She was an active child from the word go and her parents were her biggest supporters. At seven years old, Jene was running races against twelve year old’s and beating them. She was the 800m champion and she was the right wing on the hockey field, sprinting down the side line and scoring goals. Always close by, was her father Rob. Rob was the type of father who would be pacing up and down the side line too, cheering Jene on and getting as much joy supporting her with her sport as she felt when doing it.

Jene was a ball of fire and having grown up with mostly boys as her friends and with an older brother to tussle with, she learned from a young age ‘to give it as good as she got!’ ‘But she had a precious little heart,’ says mother Tish. ‘Jene was my little girl and in one night, I witnessed my little girl become an adult.’

Tish sat on the floor of the ambulance next to her daughter who was on the trauma board and begged her not to fall asleep. Donna was unconscious and Jene was in shock. She was freezing cold so the heaters of the ambulance were turned right up. Tears and sweat streamed down Tish’s face as she attempted to console her daughter on the slow and agonizing three hour trip to Pietermaritzburg. “Mommy, I’m sore, Mommy, I’m sore,” cried Jene, but there was nothing Tish could do. For the first time Tish did not know how to fix her daughter. With every twist and turn of the Umkomaas Valley, and the cries of pain that came with it, Tish was overwhelmed with the feeling of helplessness and the terror of a parent at seeing their child in such a state.

Jene and her mother Tish

They eventually arrived at Greys hospital and the girls were wheeled in through the emergency doors, taking priority over patients with broken bones and bloody wounds. They were taken straight to the x-ray room. Donna was x-rayed first and then Jene. It was just a fleeting moment, but as Donna was wheeled out of the x-ray room, Jene caught the first glimpse of her friend’s face and in that moment, she immediately understood the seriousness of their accident. Donna’s entire face was purple and swollen and she was still unconscious. It was also at that moment that Jene knew she could never blame Donna, or hold on to any anger, that there was nothing to forgive.

Jene endured another agonizing stint of being tugged and turned from side to side, increasing her pain with every new x-ray position. As well as having back injuries, Jene had also broken her collar bone and ribs and by this time she was exhausted and fed up with being fussed over. She just wanted to sleep but this day seemed to go on and on and the pain was excruciating.

The last memory she had of that day was of her clothes being cut from her body and the gumboots being pulled from her feet, followed by the relief from a pain killer and falling into a deep sleep. The 28th of April had finally come to its end and nothing would ever be the same again for Jene, or Donna.

29th April 1996

It was 3am when Jene woke. She was in a hospital ward and it was dark. Though she could hear the deep breathing of slumbering patients around her, Jene felt completely alone. She was scared and she was confused and bit by bit the memories from the day before returned, like puzzle pieces being put together to make a picture that she did not want to see. Then the door slowly opened, and the passage light poured in and in walked Jene’s first of a thousand visitors. Jenny Guy was a maternity nurse at Greys Hospital and who originally was from Ixopo. She had heard about the accident and she’d come to see Jene and to sit with her. Though Jene did not know Jenny at the time, she knew her son well who was also in her class at Ixopo High School. It was a huge relief for Jene to know that someone who knew her and who was familiar had come to be with her during those first very dark and lonely hours. In the weeks and years to come, Jene would come to know what it is to be supported. How support comes in many forms and how it has carried her and accompanied her forward on this life-altering journey. On that first night of being in hospital, Jene had been heavily sedated and she was struggling to talk and to breathe. Jenny told Jene that she needn’t talk, that she would sit with her and that she should rest, instantly dissipating the overwhelming fear Jene had felt a few moments before. That night, they moved through time in silence, with Jenny doing nothing and saying nothing other than simply being there, being present.

A few days later, the neurosurgeon had a meeting with Rob and Tish about Jene. He was a kind and compassionate man and though he had done this many times before, he knew that this would be the first and only time that they would be told this kind of news about their daughter, how their little girl would never walk again.

Panic stricken, Tish could not believe what she was hearing. These words this man was speaking made no sense. Not Jene, not her little girl, not the girl who loved to run and who spent every waking hour outdoors and on the move. Not the little girl who had such a big life ahead of her. Not Jene. This could not be.

Anger, fear, disbelief knocked her like a wrecking ball and she got up and ran. She kicked the door open and ran, ran to nowhere, ran to anywhere but there. She wanted to vomit these words out and to scream at the world, ‘why Jene, why my baby girl?’ but nothing came.

The next day Tish and Rob sat with Jene, knowing what they knew but not knowing how to tell her. Then Jene asked Tish, “Mommy, what is happening to me? Why can’t I feel my legs?” And Tish told Jene the truth, that she is paralyzed. For a moment their eyes locked as the news sunk in and became a reality. Jene’s eyes turned red then a brilliant blue. It was a shock to hear what she believes she already knew, a confirmation of a conversation that she had been having in her own head. It was a shock to hear that she would ‘never ever’ walk again. But at that point, Jene had not yet understood, or processed what ‘never ever’ meant, but she accepted it.

Tish ran out. She couldn’t bare to see the pain on her daughters face, to be watching the curtain close on the life she knew and loved, a life that they all loved. And to be replaced with what? How would she ever recover from this and would they ever see that radiant smile that was their child?

Rob never cried, but that day while sitting beside Jene and holding her hand, he cried. And he said to her ‘Cooks, it’s going to be okay, we are going to get through this.’ And Jene believed him.

Rosie Goes©2022

If you would like to follow Jene’s story, scroll down to the bottom of this page and Click Follow! Or go to the Rosie Goes Facebook page and receive updates through Facebook! This is just the beginning of a big human adventure in pursuit of humanKIND!

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