The Ties That Bind UsbySlirpuff©
"Doctor Torres," he heard the nurse call loudly over his voice pager, "the patient in room 225 is starting to wake up."
As he lifted one eyelid than the other, shining his light into her eyes, the doctor spoke to her in his normal monotone voice. "Mrs. Moore, can you hear me?" He checked her pulse and heart rate and glanced back at the monitor. "Nurse, she is waking up. Check for contacts in her file and call whoever is listed. Tell them it can be anywhere from one to five hours, but she is definitely waking up." About three hours later Laura was awake, groggy, but still awake.
"Welcome back to the living. Don't try and talk just yet," the nurse said giving her clear fluids through a straw. "When you feel strong enough you can sit up, but be patient you've been asleep for quiet a while. And don't worry; your family has been notified. So, just relax and let your body fully wake up. In an hour or two you're going to feel much better," she said taking her pulse once more and writing the results on the chart.
She shook her head and felt all the wires and things that were still attached to her. Laura could tell she was in a hospital of some sort but for the life of her she couldn't remember why. She could see and hear what was going around her, but her brain still wasn't processing the way it should just yet. Her body felt strange, weak, as she lifted her arms looking at all the tubes going into her.
"Don't worry, we'll be taking out all of those things soon we just want to monitor you for a little while longer. Your arms, legs, and the rest of your muscles haven't been used in a while so it'll take a little time for them to get use to moving again. I know you've got a million questions but just be patient. You've been through quite an ordeal and you don't need any shocks to your system right now. Just relax, all your questions will be answered in due time." The nurse smiled once more and walked out of the room.
She could see the bright sun coming in through the closed blinds. It was daytime but what time of day? Still too groggy to get her head around it she was starting to feel a little bit better. Looking around her room she saw a few magazines, a sweater, and some other personal items. That's when Laura noticed the photograph, the photograph of her and, she thought for a minute, Randi. It was a photograph of her and her daughter, Randi. It was on the dresser, too far away to grab, but at least she could see it clearly. She glanced around the room once more to see if there were any other photographs but there was none. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, "I'm alive," she said to herself.
It was about four hours later, after she had done her best to finish her first real meal, a nurse walked in.
"How are you feeling?"
"Better, but next time could we order out for some Mexican food?" That brought a chuckle to her nurse.
"Well, if you're getting your appetite back than I guess you're strong enough for a visitor or two," she said glancing towards the door. "There is a certain young lady out there whose been waiting here for the last three hours. She's been pacing up and down the hall like a caged cat and has informed me that if I didn't let her in here soon, I'd need three orderlies to hold her back. So, if you're up to it I'll let her in but," there was always a but, wasn't there? "But, if your vitals go up, I'm kicking her out. Do I make myself clear?" Laura nodded and sat up even more in the bed. She was right; Randi came rushing through the door.
"Mom, Mom!" she cried out with tears in her eyes. She was kissing her mother's face and hugging her. Randi started to cry. "I thought we'd lost you. When they said you might never wake up I told them they were wrong and that you'd fight back. How are you feeling? Are you sore? Do you need anything?" The questions came nonstop as she wiped her eyes with her sleeve and sniffled. "You've lost a little bit of weight," Randi said. "But don't worry, when you get out of this place and start eating real food you'll gain it all back in no time. Mom, it's so good to have you back," she said with another bone crushing hug. "The doctor told me that if everything goes right you could probably be out of here by the end of the weekend. God, you look great mom."
Randi was starting to simmer down a little. She was pumped seeing her mother awake for the first time in over six months. It had been a long journey with more than a few potholes. But her mother was back and she'd make sure her homecoming would be something special. When she noticed her mother starting to fidget and glancing over to the door a few times, Randi's face started to drop a little. Did she remember? And if she did remember, how much? These were only a few of the questions that eventually needed answers to. Then there was what Randi had been carrying in her purse for the last two months. Her dad had given it to her and asked that she take care of this one little task for him. She'd told him yes, but now with her mom awake, she wasn't so sure she could do it anymore.
"Is everyone aware that I'm out of my coma and ready to receive visitors?"
"Mom, I called everyone on my way over here but told most to give you a day or two to recoup. This way you wouldn't get hit all at once. The doctor told me to make sure that you were kept calm and threatened to throw me out if I upset you, so I'm trying my best not to."
When her mom gave her this strange look she kind of knew what was coming next. Laura had gotten this far away look on her face. It looked like she was trying to think back and remember something. She finally asked Randi the question she had been dreading ever since she walked into her room. Please, please, please, let it be something else Randi prayed. It wasn't.
"Mom, he's not coming. I called him on my way over so he knows you're awake, but he said he wasn't coming." Laura got a sad look on her face like she'd expected it but had hoped for a different answer. "Evan said he'd be over tomorrow after work, and grandma and grandpa will be over tomorrow night. Your sister, Patty, is on her way and should be here in about an hour. I told her to give us a little while together, alone, before she came. Mom, I'm so sorry," Randi told her and watched her mother's face fall. "It was pretty tough on all of us after the accident, but everything has pretty much settled down. Do you want to know what's happened in the world since you've been asleep? We elected our first black president, isn't that wonderful? The economy is still in the shitter but it's getting better, and your boss said your old job is waiting for you whenever you're ready to come back. Isn't that great?" Randi was trying to stay away from that one dreaded topic, but knew it wouldn't go away. Her purse felt like it weighed a thousand pounds, and she finally set it down on the bedside table. Randi knew she wasn't supposed to upset her mother, but she was getting that way and it wasn't her fault.
They talked about everything and nothing for the next hour. They looked at one another, and Randi told her that someone had been here with her most of the time. Laura asked how everyone was holding up and said that she was sorry to have been such a burden.
"Mom, you weren't a burden and if that man hadn't run that red light none of this would have happened. I don't know if anyone has told you, what the hell am I thinking, of course you don't know; he died in the crash. The report said he died on impact." That statement brought a sad look to Laura's face. "Well, enough talk about that, you're awake and are going to be as good as new. I'll make sure to fatten you up. It'll be just like old times."
Laura looked at her daughter and said it would never be like it was ever again. She remembered now how she got here, not the accident mind you, but how it had happened. She remembered yelling for Ed to slow down. She remembered screaming when she saw the truck just before it plowed into them. After that everything was a blank slate until she woke up this morning.
"Do you think your father will talk to me?" Laura asked, but Randi just shook her head no.
"Mom, maybe later. Everything has been on the back burner with you being in here. It's still too new and raw. Maybe in a week or two dad will come around," Randi told her. They both knew that wasn't going to happen. "Dad wanted me to give this to you when you woke up." Randi handed her a white unmarked envelope. "I don't think you should look at it until at least tomorrow. Aunt Patty will be here soon and remember the doctors want you to stay calm. I'll stop by tomorrow morning. Say hi to Aunt Patty for me."
As Randi was exiting the hospital she noticed her Aunt Patty walking in.
"Does she know?" was the first question out of Patty's mouth.
"Not yet, but I gave her the letter from dad. I told her not to read it until tomorrow, but I'm positive she's reading it as we speak."
"Maybe I should wait a little bit before going up. You know, give her a little alone time."
"Aunt Patty, the last thing she needs right now is alone time. She's been alone in her mind for the last six months. Right now she needs our support and plenty of it if she going to get through the next couple of months."
"I guess you're right. It's just that I don't know how I can face her after all that's happened these last couple of months. My parents are still angry with me, your dad says he never wants to see my face ever again, and even your brother hasn't forgiven me yet. You're the only one who still talks to me."
"Aunt Patty, I found out months ago it doesn't do anyone any good to judge others all it brings about is anger and hate. I'm done with both. So go say hi to your sister, tell her you love her, and I'll see you both later."
Patty walked upstairs and slowly walked down the hall. She'd be upbeat and not say a word about Steve. However, when she walked into her room the tears were streaming down Laura's face. She tried to duck back out of the doorway but Laura had seen her. With tearful eyes and arms out stretched she ran to her. For the next half hour Laura poured out her heart and soul onto her shoulder, and Patty too started to cry.
Laura was exhausted beyond what she could bear. The nurse monitoring her vitals had called the doctor and pushing Patty aside he injected Laura with something to calm her down and put her back to sleep. The doctor wasn't happy when Patty told him she wasn't leaving. He said Laura would probably sleep until tomorrow morning sometime so she could sit there, however, before he left he gave her a firm warning.
"If she get's upset one more time, I'm going to restrict everyone from visiting. She's not a well woman and what she needs more than anything else is calm." The doctor scolded Patty like he was disciplining one of his nurses. Patty told him that she would just sit in the chair next to the bed and read. He warned her once more before he left not to get Laura agitated. Little did he know it wasn't Patty but the letter Laura held in her hand that had upset her so much.
Laura was back in la la land. She looked peaceful like she had for the last six months, but this time she was going to wake up to a whole new life. There was a pile of papers on the floor next to her bed. Patty picked them up and put them on her lap. She looked at the first page and cringed. No wonder Laura had been so upset. Flipping through a couple of pages she came to one that was wet from tears and knew this is how far Laura had gotten before losing it. Patty felt deeply sorry for her sister but angry with herself. It didn't have to have ended this way, but knowing Steve this was the only way it could have ended. She turned off the overhead light and turned on the small light by the night table. It gave just enough illumination to see what was written on the pages. Thankfully, they were all stapled together, so she flipped back to page one and started to read. "Oh my God," was all Patty could say to herself after reading just the first paragraph.
I had been watching and listening to that monitor on and off for the last three weeks, but that constant beep, beep, beep, was about to drive me over the edge. I'd gotten permission from the hospital to basically come and go as I pleased, but I was starting to get a little punch drunk from lack of sleep. I was leaving shortly to go home and for once I was going to try to get a good eight hours of sleep.
The doctors were very optimistic after the surgery. They all said that they had relieved the pressure on the brain but that it would take time for the swelling to go down. Hopefully, it wouldn't be too long, but they could not say for sure.
"Does that mean she'll wake up then?" I asked the doctor. He could tell I was pleading for the answer I was hoping for.
"Mr. Moore, your wife is in a coma and even though it isn't a deep one, nonetheless it could be one day, one week, or three months. There's no way for us to determine when she'll come out of it. Her injuries have been repaired, but the body sometimes does this on its own as a way of healing itself. Her head trauma is the likely cause and we're just going to have to wait. Just be thankful she's alive."
I was thankful Laura was alive unlike the driver of the car she was riding in. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and took the brunt of the crash. The paramedics said he died almost instantly, and they weren't too sure about my wife's chances until the firefighters cut her out of what was left of the car. So, here I sit and wonder why.
"Dad," my son Evan yelled running into the room that first day. "How's mom doing? Randi is on her way but said to call her as soon as I found out something."
I told them that their mother had been in surgery for sixteen hours and was doing as well as could be expected. Cracked ribs, head trauma, a broken ankle, and multiple fractures rounded out her list of extensive injuries. I told them that the biggest problem was that she had hit both the front and side of her head, and the surgeon had to drill holes in her skull to relieve the internal pressure.
"Look Son, I don't understand it all, but if I believe only half of what they're telling me, your mom is going to make a full recovery. It's going to take a while, but she'll be just fine." I wish I could say that about myself. The kids stopped in everyday to see how she was doing; praying to God she'd wake up.
Me, I became a fixture around the hospital for the first couple of weeks eating most of my dinners in my wife's room. I'd stop off at McDonald's, Chinese, or bring in a large pizza that I would share with the nursing staff. All in all, I was just marking time until she woke up.
"How's Laura doing?" Keith, my boss asked.
"She's healing and the doctors say she should wake up any day now," I lied about that part of it.
"Well, she's in our prayers," he said patting me on the shoulder. "If you need any extra time off just say the word."
"Thanks for the offer, but being here at work is keeping me sane and grounded. It's the only place I can get it off my mind and be somewhat normal."
"Well, if something comes up just let me know." I thanked him again. Everyone was being overly nice to me.
Five days after the accident I was at the police station getting a copy of the accident report. I could have gotten it earlier but I needed time to get my head together before reading what had gone down.
The police report stated that the Lincoln Town car, Laura was riding in had been traveling at a high rate of speed down Boylston Street. The car had run the red light at the corner of Boylston and Fifth Avenue. A UPS delivery truck, that had the green light, plowed into the driver's side of the Lincoln. There were some skid marks, but the UPS driver said that by the time he saw the car it was too late to stop. The driver estimates that he hit them going approximately twenty-five to thirty miles per hour. The driver of the Lincoln, a Mr. Edward Carver, was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was removed by the medical examiner. I thought for a minute and for the life of me I couldn't place the name. I looked at his home address and saw that it was all the way across town from where we lived. Later that night I looked online and found that he had been married to a woman named Carol and had an eight year old daughter.
When I went to the hospital after work I found Randi there giving my wife a hand and foot massage.
"Dad, I read that physical stimulation sometimes can bring a person out of a coma. Why don't you get on the other side and do her other hand," she said passing the massage oil over to me. We rubbed for the better part of an hour before finally stopping. "I plan on doing this a couple times a week until she wakes up. Also, I made a tape of her favorite songs and put it on her iPod. I picked up a headset and will have the nurse start it every night; something's got to work."
"Honey, the doctor said it's going to take time. Her brain is still not totally healed. It's only been three weeks since the accident."
"I hope you sue the pants off that UPS driver dad, he could have killed mom."
"Sweetheart, the driver of car your mom was in ran a red light. He was the one at fault."
"Great, and he's dead. What an idiot. What the hell was he thinking? Have you contacted his widow yet?"
"Randi, she just buried her husband. For Christ's sakes, leave the poor woman and her daughter alone to grieve."
"I guess you're right. I am thankful Mom is still alive," I said nothing in reply. The only thing the police report failed to mention was that I was in the car right behind them and saw the whole thing first hand.
THREE WEEKS EARLIER
I was sitting at my desk just finishing up the production schedule for the rest of the week. I leaned back, stretched, and glanced at my watch. Eleven twenty-one. That's when the idea popped into my head; why not surprise my wife for lunch. Hell, it was going to be a boring afternoon now that the schedule was done, so right then and there I decided to take a couple of hours off and surprise my wife.
Laura worked about twenty-five minutes from my office, and I figured that if I left right now I'd make it just in time for lunch. I debated about picking something up but decided that I'd grab her and let her make the decision on where to eat. "This is going to be so cool," I thought to myself making my way through the pre-lunch hour traffic.
I got hung up at one light and was about to call her but fought the urge. I wanted to see the look on her face when I walked in. What's that phrase they say on television, priceless?
It was five minutes to twelve when I turned the corner in front of her building, just in time to see her get into a black Lincoln Town car. "Shit, too late," I said hitting the steering wheel. She's probably having a business lunch with a vendor. I was kicking myself for not calling and was about to head back to work when I saw it, the kiss. It wasn't a big passionate tongue-piercing kiss more so just a peck, but it was one just the same. Now I had another reason to be there. They took off and I pulled in right behind them with my brain pelting me with question after question that I didn't have any answers for.
I guess I'm not the most reserved or patient person in the world because at the first stoplight I got out of my car. I ran up to the driver's window and rapped on the glass with the back of my knuckles. The puzzled look on the driver's face was nothing compared to that look of horror I saw on Laura's.
"Open the fucking door," I yelled through the glass. The light turned green and the car lunged forward and headed out fast.
I ran back to my car and even though everyone was honking at me I heard nothing. I kept my eyes focused on the black Lincoln weaving through the traffic ahead of me. It didn't take me more than two minutes to catch back up to them because of the slow lunch hour traffic. I was flashing my brights at them trying to get them to stop, that's when he gunned it.