The constant beep…beep…beep of the machine echoed in the air tickling Tom’s ear drums. The pace of his heart matched the rhythm of the monitor measuring each beat of Rose’s heart. Tom’s fingers interlocked with Rose’s good hand. His thumb stroked her palm back and forth. The motion caused, for the moment, a time for every painful thought to fade behind the noises of footsteps of nurses, doctors, other family members resounding off of the blank, white walls.
The hospital had a distinct clean smell. Tom was sick of seeing latex gloves, watching people on stretchers being rolled to their respective rooms, and seeing doctors and nurses shoot him sympathetic glances as they switched Rose’s drip bag.
Tom looked at Rose’s face. Peppered around her left eye and cheekbone, Rose’s face sported various shades of purple and blue. And that wasn’t even the worst of it. In order to stitch the deep gash on her head, the medical team shaved part of her auburn locks to clear the area. Her right arm was reset and was donned with a plain cast.
Standing up to stretch, Tom looked at her. He felt like all he could do was stare. His hand reached out to softly touch her face. He had forgotten how smooth her ivory skin was.
He was faced with the reality of death as soon as the police officer said that he needed to head to the accident. The words replayed over and over in his head like a broken record. His stomach lurched. Where had it gone all wrong? Tom knew exactly what went wrong, but to dig out the memories he buried so deeply into the recesses of his mind would be a task that could break him to pieces. But once the door was open, he couldn’t help but walk through.
A sandy-haired boy ran over the cracked sidewalk with each step pounding gravel into the grooves of his shoes. Because of the horrific potholes on the main road to his house, the bus driver always dropped him off on the corner just five blocks away from his home.
He heaved a sharp breath of cold air in as he reached out to open the screen door. Stepping into the dimly lit hall, he walked into the hallway hoping to make a made dash to his room. But something stopped him. Off to his left he heard yelling in the kitchen.
Slowly, carefully, he avoided the creaking floorboards to spy on his parents in the kitchen. Peering around the corner of the wall Tom watched as his dad stood towering over his mother. At a staggering height of 6’7, Jasper Carmet exploded with degrading words to his mother. “You always nag me, Darlene. I pay the bills for everything in this house so that you and Tom can stay home. You are never satisfied. I am tired of your whining”
Tom’s eyes swung over to look at his Mom’s expression. Her blue eyes fiercely harbored unshed tears. This wasn’t the first time that Tom heard his dad’s booming voice carrying slamming weight against his mother. Each time it happened Tom couldn’t help but note the sadness and distance in his mother’s eyes.
He vowed that day at the ripe age of 10 years old that he would never treat anyone like that. Especially the one he would vow to love.
Tom blinked as if to shut the door on the memories he desperately wished would vanish. Now here he was and the same look that his mother had when she took each verbal hit, was mirrored on Rose’s face yesterday. It wasn’t the first time he had ever yelled at her.
It angered every part of his being to know that the vow he made all of those years ago was crumbling around him. He didn’t understand how deeply the effect his father’s “leadership” and domineering had on him. But now looking at his wife fighting for her life on this bed, he couldn’t help but feel the crushing force of how the last five years of his anger, bitterness, and irritation destroyed his relationship with his sweet Rose.
Tom peered out of the hospital’s tiny window overlooking the major highway. All of the things he wished he could take back came flooding in. Shaking his head, he tried to ward off the tears that seemed to be ever-present these last couple days. The sound of squeaky tennis shoes caused Tom to suck the tears in. Turning, he saw that Doctor Trey had arrived with Rose’s chart balancing in his right arm and scribbling something on the sheets with his left hand.
His voice was low and serene. “Tom.”
Tom waited. Holding his breath, he waited for the verdict the doctor was about to deliver.
The tone of the doctor’s voice turned gentle. “Tom, after reading the scans of your wife’s head injury…” Tom couldn’t bear to hear it. He felt the oxygen levels in the room drop.
“Tom, your wife is in a comatose state. Few people ever wake up after such a severe trauma. I’m going to need you to call your friends and family to say their final goodbyes. I’m sorry Tom.”
He couldn’t breathe. It’s as if that last sentence sucker-punched him in the gut and captured any air that he could have grabbed. When Tom realized what the doctor was saying, he roughly grabbed both panels of his coat.
Tom’s voice was raspy. “What do you mean final goodbyes? You haven’t done everything that you can do! She has only been in this hospital for a day! How can you say that you have done everything in a day!?
Doctor Trey grabbed Tom’s hands and put them back down to his side. “Son, Rose lived a good life. But we have done everything we can. Call your family and friends.”
Tom ripped away from the doctor’s touch. He stormed out of the hospital room.
Lylah rushed to the double doors of the hospital. As soon as she heard about Rose’s accident she drove straight to the hospital. Her best friend. It couldn’t be. Heading toward the front desk, she pulled out her phone and sent a quick text to the church’s prayer chain. After sending the message, Lylah made it to the front desk and asked the nurse if she could see Rose Carmet. The nurse kindly pointed to room 348.
Steps that measured far too long for her short legs seemed to make the distance from the nurse’s station to Rose’s room seem like a mere jump away. Before she even got to the door she saw Tom open the door. She had to ask him what was going on.
“Tom! Tom, please wait!” She hurried over to him.
Tom turned to see one of Rose’s most beloved friends come towards him. Her name was Lylah Henry. “Yes?”
Tom was in no mood to talk to anyone, but seeing a familiar face helped cause the anger to fade.
Lylah started breathing hard. “What happened? Is Rose going to be okay? The church is praying for her?”
Tom could barely look at her. All he wanted to do was rewind the last three days. He was about to not only share his grief, but cause another one to grieve.
With a heavy heart, Tom’s emotions caused his voice to break with utter sadness. “Lylah, Rose was hit dead on in a car collision. The doctor said Rose’s brain scans confirmed that she will be in a comatose state from the force of the trauma it endured. She isn’t waking up, Lylah. It is time to say goodbye.”
Lylah whimpered. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye. She looked at Tom. His face was strained. His normally clean shaven face had a slight shadow on it. His hair was disheveled from lack of sleep. His heart was broken and it showed on his face. Lylah put a hand on his arm. “Tom, let’s go get a cup of coffee. I need time to process and right now you and I both need someone to get through this. The coffee downstairs might not be the greatest, but let’s go and talk.”
Tom studied Lylah’s face. The woman was in utter shock and she hadn’t seen Rose yet. Maybe it was for the better if she didn’t right now. “Alright, let’s go.”
Both Lylah and Tom headed toward the elevator. Pressing the down arrow button, Tom and Lylah stood in silence. One praying to God and asking for a miracle and the other scrambling to figure out who he was praying to, but asking for the same miracle.
To be continued…