April 5th, 1990
So, I asked my daddy to buy me this journal. He’s always been a great father, even though he isn’t the same after my mom died.
He was always big on teaching me how to write, and stuff. He said words are the most important thing ever! He writes books for a living, so I guess he kinda wants me to do it too.
He acted pretty happy when I told him I wanted to write stuff down, so he bought me this really cool diary with, like, a leather cover.
I was five when mom had the heart attack that took her away from me and dad, but I still remember her pretty good.
I’m nine now, but I still miss her. I start to forget her face sometimes, but we have plenty of photo albums and stuff that I look at a lot.
My daddy gets really sad sometimes, and I even hear him crying at night. He’s tried to date a little, but he always says that nobody can compare to mommy. It would be weird if he met someone, though.
I mean, would I have to call her mom, even though she’d just be some lady? I still want dad to be happy, even if it would be awkward for me.
I didn’t really want this diary to write about the sad stuff, but I’ve heard it’s good to put that kinda thing down to help folks deal with them. Still, that’s not why I asked my daddy for it.
The thing is, some weird stuff happens at night sometimes. I mean, I guess it’s not weird stuff, as much as just a weird thing.
It only happens every couple of weeks, and sometimes only once a month, so I suppose it’s not really a big deal. It’s been happening since before my mom died, but it freaked me out at first.
I guess I was just a dumb kid the first time I saw it, but I’m older now and I know it’s not normal. I started to ask my dad about it, but it sounded nuts when I said it out loud, so I told him I was just playing.
It’s, like, a bridge that leads away from my bedroom window. It kinda reminds me of those wooden ones that you see in the woods, but it’s crazy long.
The first time I really looked at it, I was a bit scared, because it wasn’t there before, and then it was!
It looks like I could just open my window and walk across it, but what if it vanishes while I’m on it? I don’t wanna splat onto the ground, or anything, but I really wanna see where it goes!
It just appeared the other day, so I guess it won’t come back for a bit. I’ll write more when it does.
May 2nd, 1990
The bridge came back last night. I wasn’t feeling good, so I didn’t even go look at it. I could see it out the window, though. It made sounds this time, too.
I have espilepy or something, but I can’t really say it right. It makes my body do weird things sometimes, and I kinda black out after.
My daddy says I have some other problems too, but I don’t really know. I have to take a bunch of pills every day, and some of them make me feel a bit dizzy, but daddy says I gotta take them.
None of that stuff was what was wrong with me last night, though. I think I got a cold or something.
For some reason, my daddy gets really worried about me when I have a bug of any kind. He says I have a broken imoon system or something like that.
I hate when he uses big words. I think he makes them up sometimes. I don’t feel good at all, though. Maybe I’ll feel better next time the bridge comes.
September 14th, 1990
I feel better now. I have another new pill I gotta take, but the Dr said it’ll help me fight off inflections.
I haven’t seen the bridge in a long time! I don’t know if it got bored, waiting for me to get out of the hospital.
I guess I wouldn’t wait around for someone if it looked like they’d moved away. It’s ok though.
My daddy started talking to one of the nurses from the hospital. They laughed a whole lot and she kept touching his arm.
He talks to her on the phone a lot, and they’ve been going out to dinner sometimes too. She’s a nice lady, though.
It is kinda weird to see them holding hands, but daddy looks really happy. It might be weird if they get married, but I don’t mind.
Ok. I’m going to go play now. I can’t write on you all day, diary. Ha ha.
October 29th, 1990
Halloween is almost here! I’m so excited. Daddy says I can’t trick or treat for too long, cause it’s kinda cold outside, and he don’t want me to get sick again.
I bet I can talk him into letting me stay out longer, though. Nurse Mandy is gonna be there too, and I know she’s a sucker for my puppy dog eyes.
She really is a nice lady, and she’s been at the house a lot lately. I thought I heard her arguing with daddy the other night, but he told me they were watching a scary movie, and it made her scream a whole lot.
I asked him if I could watch the movie too, but he said it was only for grown-ups. I got to watch some kinda scary movies, but they were only kid scary.
Nickelodeon has been playing some silly spooky cartoons, but they’re really fun. They played the Garfield Halloween one, and I like that one a lot.
It’s even got ghost pirates! They kinda scare me though. I guess they’re supposed to be scary, so I don’t mind. I don’t really like the singing parts, but it’s still my favorite. I do like the Charlie Brown one too, but it hasn’t come on yet.
So, the bridge came back last night again. I really wanted to open the window and climb out onto it this time, but it still makes me nervous.
I tried to stay up all night to see how long it stayed there, but I ended up falling asleep after a while.
It was there for a really long time, though. I don’t know when I conked out, as nurse Mandy says, but I know the bridge was there for hours before I did.
I really wanna go out there soon, but I don’t wanna miss Thanksgiving or Christmas if it goes away before I can come back.
It would really suck if I got to the other end, and it vanished. I’ll make sure to wear my watch when I do go on it, though.
If it takes, like, hours to get across it, maybe I’ll just turn right back. I know my daddy would worry if I was gone too long.
Nurse Mandy is gonna order pizza soon, so I’m gonna take my shower before it gets here. I sure am hungry.
December 23rd, 1990
It’s almost time for Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!
I know that was waaaay too many explanation points, but I’m crazy excited! I’ve been super good this year, even though I punched Ben, the kid next door, in the mouth last week.
He was making fun of me cause I’m homeschooled, and he called me handy-capped. I don’t know what that means, but dad said it was a shitty thing to call me.
I’m not supposed to say words like that, but I don’t think it counts if I write it. Even though I didn’t get it, it still made me mad, and I socked him in the face!
He’s, like, a couple of years older than me, but he cried like a baby! I know it was mean, and I shouldn’t have done it, but my daddy just laughed about it.
He told me Santa would forgive me because I was sticking up for myself. I hope he’s right. I’ve been working really hard to be extra super good this year.
I really really want a super Nintendo! I guess they make them at the north pole, but I hope I’ve been good enough to get one.
Daddy said he has a good feeling about it, but he said he can’t make promises or anything, cause Santa can be unpurdicable, or something.
Anyway, the bridge came back, like, three times since I wrote in here last time! I didn’t go on it, though.
I really wanted to, that last time. I even opened up my window to get a better look, but I was too scared to get on it.
I hit the wood with my hands, and it really is real! I mean, it feels like it’s there anyway.
Next time it comes back, I might get on it if I’m not too chicken. It kinda sounds like it talks a bit.
I mean, I guess it’s not really talking words, but I think it wants me to walk on it. I’m gonna do it for sure, but not until after Christmas.
It’s only 2 days left!!!! I’m crazy excited!!!! Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That was even more explanation points than last time!!! Hahahahaha!!!!
February 20th, 1991
My daddy is getting married to nurse Mandy. It’s still kinda weird, but he’s really happy.
He lets me call her Mandy, though. It would be crazy weird to call her mommy. I mean, she’s a super nice lady, and she buys me a lotta cool stuff, but it just don’t feel right to call her mom.
I got my super Nintendo!!! It’s so cool, and Mandy and daddy play on it with me. I still have fun when it’s just me playing, but it’s cool when they join in.
I actually went on the bridge last night! I was gonna go last month when it showed up, but it was only a couple of days after Christmas, and I got a lotta really cool stuff.
I got Final Fight, Super Mario World, and F Zero with my Nintendo. I got some ninja turtles, some Transformers, and some Star Wars toys too.
I got some board games also, but they’re not as fun to play as my awesome super Nintendo.
Anyway, so the bridge was pretty long. I felt like I was walking forever! I almost turned back a couple of times, but I was brave and kept going.
What was really scary was it looked like I was in outer space when I was on it. Like, I didn’t even see my street underneath me.
All around me were stars and purple and blue clouds and stuff. It was really cool looking, but I’m glad the bridge had railings, cause I woulda fell off for sure!
It was really hard to keep my eyes on the road like daddy says when we’re in the car. There was just so much cool stuff all around me, I kept looking up and down, and all around.
So, when I got to the end, after walking for, like, a whole hour, there was just a round patch of grass with a guy sitting at a table.
There was still space all around us, but there was also a weird looking lake beside the round field thing.
It had another guy sitting on a boat, but I couldn’t see what he looked like, cause he was wearing a hood, and didn’t really look at me.
He kinda scared me a little, but the other guy at the table was a really nice old man. He had a long beard, and even super long hair that was tied up behind his head.
He kinda looked like he could be Santa’s brother or something, but he didn’t wear a red suit or nothing. He wore a weird gown or something, that looked a bit like my dad’s bathrobe.
I kinda wondered if he had just got out of the shower before I showed up. Maybe he was swimming in the shiny lake that the boat was on.
He was a bit weird, I guess, but he was really nice and asked me to play a game with him. I asked him what kinda game, cause my daddy warned me about strangers who wanted to play messed up games with kids like me, but it was just board games.
I asked him what he had, and he said whatever I wanted! It was crazy, cause I didn’t see any boxes or nothing. I asked him if he had Hungry Hippos, or Sorry, cause I’m really good at those.
He reached under the table and pulled them both out! It was wicked cool, cause I didn’t even see them there before.
So, he said he only had time to play one, but he told me that I’d have to go with him if I lost. That kinda scared me, cause I didn’t wanna leave my daddy and super Nintendo, but I had a good feeling I could beat him.
He sounded smart and stuff, but I’m awesome at hungry hippos.
I totally kicked his butt!!! He didn’t even have a chance!! He actually looked happy that I won, and he smiled really big.
His teeth were super white for being such an old man. They were probably falsers or something, but they looked real.
So, he said goodbye and told me I should get going too. I ran back across the bridge, but coming back to my house went way faster than going away from it.
Anyway, it was pretty neat, but I was happy to get back to my room. My body feels tired a lot, but it didn’t feel like that when I was on the bridge, or when I was hanging out with the old man.
As soon as I got back through my window, I got crazy sleepy though. I just flopped into my bed and fell right to sleep.
It was a pretty cool time, but I dunno if I’ll go back next time.
September 6th, 1991
This is really weird. I went back on the bridge when it came back a month after that last time. I wasn’t gonna go, ’cause my body had been feeling really bad, but I remembered that I felt really good when I went out there.
I played Monopoly with the old man this time, cause I’m really good at that too, and the game went on for a really long time. Like super crazy long!
I still kicked his butt, but when I got back to my bedroom, it wasn’t my bedroom! The bridge hadn’t changed directions or anything, but it took me to a hospital!
I was really tired when I got through the window, and I just fell into the bed that was there, but when I woke up, it was, like, six months later!!
My daddy and nurse Mandy came running in when I woke up, and they said I had been in a comma or something.
That’s weird, cause my dad taught me all about commas when he was teaching me how to write, but he never told me I could catch one!
He said it was a different kinda comma, but I still don’t get it. He told me I had a really bad espelepic seshur or something, and that’s what made me have a comma.
I told him about the bridge, and he said I don’t need to go on it anymore, even though he don’t believe me.
He said it was probably a product of my imagination, or a weird dream I had, but I shouldn’t go out there anyway.
I told him how it made my body feel better, but he still said no. It kinda sucks, cause I really like the old man who plays the games with me, and I don’t want him to think I’m mad at him or anything.
I guess I won’t go again, though. I don’t wanna make my daddy cry again. He hasn’t done that since he married nurse Mandy, but he was crying like a baby when I woke up!
I told him I was sorry, and he said it wasn’t my fault, but I still felt kinda bad.
I got this diary to write about the weird stuff, so I dunno if I’ll write anymore. I do kinda like it, but most of the stuff I do is too boring to write about, I guess.
I just got back home today, but I wanted to write this stuff down before I forgot. Daddy and Mandy are wanting me to play super Nintendo with them, so I’m gonna go do that.
June 17th, 1992
I had almost forgotten about my old diary until I found it under the bed. We’re moving to a new neighborhood, but my dad’s not letting me help much with boxing stuff up.
I still grabbed a couple of boxes to pack up some of my things, though. He’s been pretty busy with the move, so I don’t want any of my stuff to get lost or messed up.
I turned 11 last week, and my spelling is a lot better now. I read through what I’d written before, and I didn’t even realize how bad it was haha.
I still have trouble with some of the bigger words, but I’m getting better. My body feels a lot worse these days, though.
I guess that’s why dad doesn’t want me helping much with the move. My epilepsy has been a little better lately, but my immune system is having more trouble now.
I had to get a bunch of tests after my 6-month coma, and the Drs discovered I have lookemia or something.
I have to get these awful treatments, and they make my body feel even worse! My dad says the town we’re moving to is close to a faculty that can help me more than the Drs here.
I hate all the tests and treatments, but Mandy says that they’re only to help me feel better, but they just make me feel like crap!
I feel kinda bad that we’re having to move to a new town just for me. Dad said he does his work from home anyway, but Mandy is gonna have to work at a whole new hospital.
She says she doesn’t mind, but I still feel bad. I guess it’ll all work out though. At least I’m homeschooled, so I don’t gotta worry about being awkward around other kids.
The bridge has still been showing up every month or so. I did what dad asked, and never got back on it. I really wanted to when I’ve been feeling rough, though.
I guess I won’t have to worry about it when we move. It took me to the hospital, but I don’t think it’ll know where to follow me to the new house.
I wonder if the old guy is mad at me for not coming to see him anymore. I guess it doesn’t really matter.
I’m going to finish boxing this stuff up now. I may write again when we get to the new house.
November 8th, 1992
So, we’ve been at the new house for a couple of months now. It’s pretty nice, but my bedroom is on the first floor now.
My dad said I’m too weak to have to go up and down stairs now. I guess he’s right. I feel really bad lately. I couldn’t even go trick or treating this year, which really sucked.
Even though my room is right next to a big tree, the bridge still found me again. It’s really weird how it just cuts the tree short, but it’s a full tree again by morning.
I really wanted to climb out there last night. Everything hurts now. The new Drs have been trying a bunch of new stuff, and I still have to get the awful treatments too.
I used to be scared of needles, and they’d always make me cry, but they don’t bother me anymore. Mandy says I’m a pin cushion now. It’s kinda funny, and the way she said it makes me laugh, but I just wanna be a normal kid.
I see the neighborhood kids playing out in their yards, but I don’t even get to leave the house anymore unless it’s to go to the Dr.
I just wish I could be like the other kids, sometimes. I have plenty of toys and stuff that other kids don’t got, but I wanna be able to run around too.
I guess I shouldn’t whine about it. Things could always be worse, my dad says when I’m feeling down. I bet I could run on the bridge, though. I think I’m gonna take a nap.
March 8th, 1993
I went on the bridge again last night. I know I’m not supposed to, but I just wanted to not hurt for a little while.
It was nice to see the old man again, and he seemed really happy to see me too. He kinda looked a little sad, but he wasn’t mad at me for staying away.
What was super amazing this time, was my mom was there! Well, she wasn’t, like, there there, but the old guy made it so I could talk to her through the table we usually play the games on.
I guess that sounds kinda weird, but that’s what happened. The table’s round, and it’s usually just a solid piece of wood, but he made it do some cool stuff.
He, like, dipped his finger into the top of it, and it turned to a kinda wood looking liquid when he did. He swirled it around, and it turned into super clear and shiny water.
After a few minutes, my mom’s face appeared in it! She could see me too! I knew it was her right away, even though I don’t look at the photos much anymore.
She started crying when she saw me, and I did too. I know I’m older now, and I shouldn’t cry anymore, but I did! I could hear her voice, but it sounded like it was really far away.
The old man said we could only talk for a couple of minutes, but it was amazing! I had forgotten how much I missed her.
After I had to say goodbye, the old man said we didn’t have time for a full game, but we still kinda had to play something.
He said it’s part of the rules, whatever that meant. He just pulled out a deck of cards and sat it on the table that had turned back to wood.
He told me high card wins, so I just grabbed the one on top. He split the deck in 2 and grabbed the next one down.
He only had a 3 of diamonds, and I had a 6 of spades. He laughed and told me I got him again, and I laughed too.
I hugged him before I left, cause I still felt bad for staying away. He told me that folks don’t normally do that here, but he didn’t mind.
I waved goodbye and went back home. As soon as I got back to my room, my body started hurting again, and I got back in bed.
It was really weird, cause as soon as I lay back down and closed my eyes, some guy pushed my eyelids back open and shone a flashlight in them!
I hadn’t even seen anyone else in my room, but my dad and Mandy were in there with the other guy with the light.
The guy was a paramedic, my dad said. He told me I had an episode, whatever that means, but I told him I just got back!
I didn’t wanna tell him I went on the bridge again, but I kinda had to. He wasn’t mad, though. He started crying again, and I had to go back to the stupid hospital!
I’m gonna be here for a few days, but they let me bring my diary so I could write stuff down. My dad wanted to read it, but I told him it’s private haha.
I’m hooked up to some weird, flashy machines, and I got needles stuck in me again, but I got a tv, and my own room, all to myself.
I wonder if dad could bring my super Nintendo. There’s not a whole lotta channels on the tv. I’m gonna ask him.
December 12th, 1993
It’s snowing outside. I really wish I could go play in it, but I’m back in the hospital again. Stupid hospital. I hate it so much.
My grandparents came to see me yesterday, and they kept crying and stuff. Of course, them crying made me cry, and I didn’t even know what I was crying about.
My dad has been staying here with me. He sleeps in another room though. The Dr said I can have folks in here for too long, cause I can get infections easy.
I did get to bring my Nintendo with me, and a couple of other toys. I’ve been here for a while this time. I guess it’s not too bad, but I don’t think I’m gonna be home for Christmas.
I wonder if Santa will bring my presents here, or if I’ll have to wait until I get back home. Maybe dad or Mandy can bring them to me.
It hurts me to move much nowadays, but I bet I can still unwrap a present like a champ!
My hair fell out. I was upset about it for a while, but I guess it’s ok. It was hard to wash it when I was in the hospital last time, and it would get itchy sometimes.
My head gets really cold without hair. That’s really weird, but Mandy said I look handsome with a bald head. That’s weird too.
The bridge has been outside the window the whole time I’ve been in here. I keep wanting to go out there, but I don’t know if I can with all these machines hooked to me.
I don’t even know how to open the window here. I guess I don’t need to go out into the cold, though. I never really paid attention if it was cold or hot on the bridge.
I guess I’m going to go back to sleep. It’s hard for me to stay awake too long these days. Maybe it’s all the medicine they keep giving me. I am really tired, though.
December 26th, 1993
Santa must have come to the hospital! I had so many presents when I woke up Christmas day!
I had to get my dad to help me open them, cause I’m really weak now. I got some new games for my super Nintendo though.
Me, dad, and Mandy played a lot yesterday. It was a lot of fun, but I got tired out pretty fast. I stuck it out though.
I hadn’t seen dad smile much for a while now. Him and Mandy were both having such a good time, I didn’t tell them I was feeling bad.
I think I’m about to go to the bridge again. It looks kinda different now. It’s like it’s brighter, in a way.
It just got shiny a few minutes ago, but it’s kinda calling out to me, in a weird kinda way.
There’s someone on it! They’re walking up to the window! That’s never happened before!
It’s my mom!!! Mommy’s out there! It’s really her!! I’m going out there now. I’m sorry I can’t write any more, but she’s knocking on the glass! I’ll write more tomorrow.
I’m so happy!
That was the final entry in Toby’s diary. We lost him the day after Christmas, back on that snowy night of nineteen ninety-three.
He’d suffered for so long, and the pain of losing him before he even had a chance to really live, still brings me tears to this day.
He already had epilepsy and a pretty severe immunodeficiency before he got hit with leukemia. We knew he didn’t have a chance.
Even with all of the pain he suffered through, he was always such a happy kid. My wife, Mandy, had only just come into his life, and she loved him like she was her own.
There was something about him that just brought joy to anyone who met him. I can’t even describe how much it hurt when he passed.
Mandy and I had brought a daughter into this world in early two thousand two.
I worried I had grown too old to raise another child, and I was still haunted by the loss of my first, but Gracie made me feel young again
She was lucky enough to have been born happy and healthy. It was her that brought me back to life again after I lost my son.
She was just as wonderful as her brother, and we made sure she got to know him, though they would never meet. She would even kiss his picture before bed sometimes.
I lost my wife to a stroke two years ago. It was sudden and heartbreaking, but we had a good life together, even through the more trying times. She stood by me when my son’s death brought me close to the edge, and I miss her so much.
My life has had its share of wonderful and terrible times. As I approach my sixty-fourth year on this earth, I believe I have little time left, myself.
I got diagnosed with stage three lung cancer a year or so before I lost my wife. It’s been a downhill battle for the last year, but I’ve come to peace with it.
I’ve had to bury two wives, and the son I adored with my whole heart. I think I’m ready for whatever lies ahead.
My wonderful daughter has been attending college for the last two years, but she is currently flying out this way. Unfortunately, I do not believe I will be around to see her this one last time.
For the last week, a bridge has stood outside the window of my hospital room. I had always believed it was just a fantastical tale created by my son’s incredible imagination, but I know what it means, now.
As I sit here, staring out the window, I can see three figures in the distance, walking along the bridge towards me.
I’m not afraid anymore.
I’m leaving Gracie a note to apologize to her for not being there to see her again. I know she has a wonderful life ahead of her, and my only regret is that I will not be able to watch her become that incredible woman, I know she will be.
I will ask her to upload these final words to serve as a message from my beloved Toby.
Should you ever see a bridge outside your window, don’t be afraid. Nothing ever ends. Not really.
Credit: William Rayne
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