I Look Back To The Past...
Connie POV one shot, as she looks back to the past to find that she was everything her little girl wasn't.
I found myself looking through some old boxes yesterday that were in the loft, when I was helping Grace pack for university.
Gosh, university, it seemed like only yesterday I was by her bedside, keeping vigil and petrified that I would lose her. And now, here she is, 19 and ready to take on the world.
In a way though, she already has, her gap year's taken her all over, Ireland, all over America, the Caribbean, South Africa, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Thailand, Australia, Fiji, Croatia, the Phillipines. My little Gracie has literally conquered the world. But she's not so little now.
And now she has the battles of university. She's off to where I used to call home, Oxford University. The prestigious Oxford University, where it's practically impossible to get into if taking a gap year. But she did it! A's across the board in her subjects. All those nights she stayed up late to finish coursework and start revision, all of those times she shadowed me at the hospital to get hands on knowledge, and here she is, about to start her medical degree.
She'll naturally make a brilliant doctor, it runs in the genes. Even though Mum and Dad weren't doctors, my French grandfather Pierre was. During the World Wars, he was up there on the battlefields, trying to save as many people as he could, specialising in heart surgery. After hearing his stories of a Saturday when I was round theirs, I knew that's what I wanted to do.
What can I say? Grandpa Pierre was my hero. So many times he risked his life to save others, all that recognition he got, all of those medals. Hailed a national hero, he lived out his days in London, teaching and practicing medicine. He was an amazing role model, the only person who seemed to keep me on the straight and narrow in the rough area of Peckham. People just didn't seem to care about doing well and forging a career for themselves, but Grandpa made sure that I cared. He taught me that the only way to get something you want is to work as hard as you can for it and more, earn respect, and get the job done. This philosophy has stayed with me for most of my life, applying to my days as a student and as I rose through the ranks in medicine.
But then he died, when I was 14 years old. Devastation doesn't even cover how I felt. It was like losing an essential part of me, like losing my heart, it being cut out without a second thought. In despair with grief, I changed a lot from the meek little Connie Chase that everyone adored. Don't get me wrong, I worked just as hard to make my grandpa proud, but his death sent me off the rails. He always taught me to have self respect, and I did until he died. But my grief for him gave way to being taken advantage of. Desperate for affection, I turned to Peter. Cruel hearted as he was, he took my innocence and broke my heart.
I decided the only way to shield myself from such heartache was to solidify my heart, make it made of stone, make it unbreakable. I became a superficial moron, taking pleasure in the gratifying moments of life, embracing my sexuality to the point of promiscuity, and hiding away from love. And it worked. I can safely say that after that, my heart was never broken. No one got close enough, none of my worthless one night stands and casual affairs ever melted my heart of ice.
Whilst being so promiscuous, I sort of fell in with the wrong crowd. I never used to have many friends, I was too devoted to my studies, but once Grandpa died, it was different. I cut my hair, dyed it red, wore more fashionable clothes and started hanging around with the people considered 'cool'. They seemed cool to me at first, but they turned up to be even more messed up than I was. One night, they were passing a joint around, and me being an idiot, took a long drag. This was only the beginning of my downward spiral.
University rolled around, and by this point, I was out every night, getting high, getting drunk and getting lucky, staying out until 4am, sleeping for 2 hours then surviving a full day's lectures and tutorials by caffeine tablets and a hell of a lot of sugar. I was a shadow of my former self. I looked in the mirror and had no idea who the train wreck staring back at me was.
And then it happened. The first time I failed an assessment. I'd written this essay in about 10 minutes, not even caring what the subject was, as long as something was on the paper. It was the only time I had ever failed. I took a good look at myself, and hated who I saw. Something needed to change.
So I went through with it. I changed. I got help for my addictions, quit smoking and cut all ties with the friends who had made me this way. I met Michael, a dishy medical student a few years older than me, and we started going out. The friends he opened me up to were sweet, funny people who didn't need drugs or alcohol to have a good time. But my harsh streak still remained.
I look back to the past now, because I'm happy in the present. I can look back, and see where I went wrong. So she didn't make my mistakes, I was honest with Grace from the start. She tells me everything now. I know that she tried a cigarette when she was 14 and choked, I know that one of her friends tried to give her a joint, and she refused. I know that when she was 16, she lost her virginity to her boyfriend Paul, who left her a little while later.
I can honestly say that my daughter is wiser beyond her years. To avoid following my downward spiral, she kept herself too busy to go out and get drunk. She followed her passion for performing arts, dancing, acting and singing whenever she could. A gym junkie and lover of all things sporty, she kept those up. A keen musician, she took up playing the guitar and piano, and formed a band with her friends. She made it so she didn't have the time to waste, that every moment was precious. That her friends did it too. And that's what makes my Gracie special.