My eye strays over your form lying in the bed underneath sheets that looked so crisp and fresh with their immaculate white fibers but in reality I know are stiff and the blankets are thin and scratchy but most disturbing of all is the illusion that causes things to seem false and surreal under the harsh florescent lights of the hospital room. I have been here before to watch someone die or be with them while they recover. I have seen the horrors of the human condition and the miracles of modern medicine but this time is different. This time I am watching you die, you the person that my world revolves around, and I think that I may just loose my mind. This concept appeals to me in a way that most would think should worry me but it doesn't. Why should it, really? At this point who wouldn't want a reprieve from the mental torture I am putting myself through. A nice long relaxing mental vacation under the tender ministrations of some really great drugs. Yeah that's what I need. But instead I am here by your side as I have been and will be until such time as it is impossible for me to remain here. It's with a resigned sigh of frustration that I settle down into the hospital visitors chair and try to make myself comfortable for another night staring at these four sterile white walls. When my mind drifts back to that night I don't stop it this time. I know I'll have to face it sooner or later, the reliving, to come to some kind of closure.
When the phone rings at 1:30 in the morning we all think to ourselves that it is the worst and are usually immensely relieved and irritated when it isn't. But what happens when it is the worst, what happens when that relief never comes. I remember very clearly cursing whoever was calling as I tripped over the sheets tangled around my ankles and stubbed my toe on the end of our bed. I knew you were going to be coming home late and was thinking of nothing more then catching up on my sleep. But when I answered the phone my mind slow to respond drugged with sleep and a touch of irritability in my tone the soft voice on the other end shattered my world into pieces. I find it odd that some of the worst news in life is given to you by a gentle voice as if that would make things better. This is especially annoying when what you want to do is scream until your voice is raw and every fiber of your being is trying to claw it's way up through your mouth and then you desire everyone else to feel it too. The physical sensation of my stomach clenching with fear is a trademark sign that everything is most definitely not all right. And as I battled nausea all the way to the hospital my mind was spinning out of control and my heart felt like it had traveled into my throat.
You can always tell what is not being said by the look in the eyes of the hospital employees. Even the tired and weary gazes soften with pity and sadness when they see you walk into the room. And when you finally fly apart the sobs no longer being held back the reassurance scripts are broken out their words sounding painfully tight coming from a heart that doesn't believe it for a second. As I walk into your room and see you there with IV drips and blood being filtered through your veins the whooshtick of the respirator sounding out a terrible rhythm I can't hold it back. I'm not sure if I'm going to throw up or scream but settle for sliding to my knees head in my hands and sobbing so hard I can no longer breathe. The scurrying about stops for a split second as the world is frozen from the impact of pure unadulterated grief before life crashes back in and hands gently try to comfort me. It takes a moment for the words to filter into my conscience and I realize the doctor is trying to tell me what happened. Apparently there was an accident, something about wet roads and a semi, words I cannot bear to hear much less dwell upon. You are in a coma and your loosing blood quickly from internal injuries. "Are you his partner?" you hear the soft voice ask and finally the world comes back into focus. Yes, yes I am, and I need to be strong for him for us. And slowly reality settles back into a pattern of obligations and facts with no room for emotions or dwelling. And to stay sane I get up off my knees and face the hospital room that will become my home for as long as we still have together.
Your family has been summoned and are on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic ocean. It has now been 24 hours and I have yet to sleep but I am afraid that when I close my eyes I will lose control of my carefully cultivated calm. My hands are wrapped around yours and I watch your face for any sign of life. A constant dialogue is kept up and I feel the need to make sure I tell you I love you as often as possible. I talk about our memories together, about our wedding ceremony and how I felt when I saw you with tears in your eyes and a ring on your finger for the first time. And how beautiful you were that night when we danced for hours on end wrapped in each others arms bathed in golden candle light surrounded by our loved ones. I remind you how we laughed until we were gasping for air when we discovered the size of what would become our first apartment. And how happy we were that we proved everyone wrong. The memories seem to spill from my conscious like a fine wine sliding from the bottle all smooth and velvety. They would be a blissful indulgence if it weren't for the circumstances that turn them instead into a bittersweet draught. I feel tears slip from beneath my eyelashes and realize I've had my eyes closed for the past 10 minutes so lost in my own thoughts I lost track of myself again. I want to grab you and whisk you away back home but instead I settle for leaning over you gently brushing your hair away from your forehead and placing a kiss on each of your swede soft eyelids. I look down on your beautiful face impossibly pale and angelic lying still so still against the pillows the black of your hair a welcome shock against the blinding white of your surroundings. I can't help but trail my fingers down your face feeling the smooth expanse of your forehead down the ridge of your brow my fingers splaying across your cheek and following the angle of your chin. My touch loving and delicate as a whisper hoping beyond hope that it will act as a lifeline back to the land of the living. I dip my head once again to graze my lips across yours the touch as light as the flutter of a butterflies wing. I stop with my lips held over yours so close as to be touching but a hairs breadth apart. I let my breath feather out against your skin trying desperately to breathe life back into your still frame. As if by sharing my breath with you I can transfer some of my energy back into your body. It is in this position that the night nurse finds me and she says not a word as she goes about her duty coming and going without as much as a sigh making sure not to disturb us in any way. I guess when it's near the end they don't care all that much about what I do figuring I should have this opportunity at least.
It is now at the 32 hour mark and they are begging me to sleep telling me I am no use to you exhausted to the point collapse. And finally the pill they gave me to sleep is kicking in. I can feel the haze slip over my mind and for a second I panic. What if something happens while I'm asleep? But I loose the battle as my eyes slip closed with your face the only vision in my minds eye. When I wake your whole family is gathered around the room and I feel exposed. How long have they been here gathered around both of our sleeping forms I wonder. And a weird sort of possessiveness and jealousy takes hold. He is yours now and you will not relinquish control of the situation. No ones loves him like you, no one can take care of him like you, no one is nearly as important to this situation as the two of you. In this together. But of course this is the grief talking and I swallow down the bile preparing myself to face this as well.
I can see the pinch of fear in your mothers face and I want to give words of comfort and promise that it will be ok. Just like they wanted to do for me but I know it would be a lie and I don't want to do lie to her. It's now been 72 hours and nothing has changed. We all mill around like the walking dead everyone but me taking shifts. I cannot leave your side and they don't try to make me. I take my coffee black and idle chatter in small doses trying in vain to read the magazine brought in by the staff. But my eyes are too puffy from crying and my mind can't wrap around the words anyway.
I snap back from my trip down memory lane to focus my eyes on you my every thought is bent towards your recovery and the hope that you can pull through. But really what hope remains is tenuous and frail. But nevertheless I am by your side. And here I will be when the time comes and a decision has to be made. As my mind goes off on another rant I start plotting a way to shut it up. I never knew how annoying one can be when they remove themselves from a situation enough to be a third party. It is when the things that you think and say no longer even make sense to you that you know things have gotten to a critical place. I turn to watching all that goes on around me making up my own stories for each person who walks through the halls. See her, her name is Suzy and she is here to visit her boyfriend, he was hurt while trying to rescue a child from a burning building. Isn't that heroic? And that, that's Rufus, he is here because his brother was involved in a 50 car pileup on main and seventh. Lucky to get out alive that one. She looks like she has been crying, her loved one must not have made it, maybe another victim of the crash. Of course I wouldn't know because I haven't spoken to another soul the entire time I've been here unless it had something directly to do with my own situation. I'm just going through the motions at this point of being civil to family and friends who all mean well but only register as flies buzzing around my head. Finally your family has retired to hotels to sleep out the night and we are once again alone. The incessant beeping of the heart monitor keeping terrible rhythm with the sounds of the life support system but somehow it comforts me in the dead of the night when no other sound can be heard and at least I know with every clickwhirswooshbeep that you are still alive.
Today they have taken you to radiology. They are checking for any brain activity and this is what we will base our decision on. We have to decide to keep you alive or let you go. If there is even a small glimmer of a chance we will not pull the plug. That is a terrible decision to have to contemplate. At no point in a humans existence should they have to decide the fate of a loved one. The decision of life and death is not one that I have ever desired to make and this is the absolute worst hour of my entire life. The calm I feel is a result of sensory overload. Of pure shock. If I were to allow even a small fissure in my wall of calm a torrent would be unleashed that no amount of medication could fix. A breakdown would be inevitable and though this is as good a place as any to have it now is decidedly not the time. And even though my instinct tells me to be alone, that there is no one allowed in, I find myself sitting in the ICU waiting room with your family for support. We all wait quietly no one daring to speak a word or else the spell of calm might be broken. And finally the doctor appears and we all file into the consultation room. His face shows a weariness that you come to recognize in all hospital staff and though it seems that the world has dulled the shine in their eyes a little I can still see something resembling peace. He doesn't keep us waiting and with a small smile explains that yes there is still some brain activity and definite improvement since he was brought in. And, yes he confirms, there is hope. No one moves. No ones says a word. And yet you can feel the relief in the air like a breeze cutting through a stifling day. The doctor gets up to leave and all at one time the room erupts with sobs, laughter, smiles, and hugs. And finally I feel like I am in this with them and not taking it all on alone.
As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months most of your family returns home having to get back to jobs and lives. But every day I still return to your bedside and every day I call your parents to update them on your condition. Every day the news is different. Some days better then others but as long as there is progress there is hope. And finally the day arrives when you open your eyes. I have never in my life been so happy not even when we were married. Your eyes were like beacons of hope that my heart had not allowed to penetrate till that moment and I wasn't sure if I was going to keep it together. But when you squeaked out my name with vocal chords that had not been used in months it was my undoing. I wrapped you up in my arms fairly crawling into the bed with you and released every single tear and every single sob that I had ever held in over the last few months. My body shook from the sobs as I clung desperately to you my tears soaking your gown and my fingers would through your hair holding your head into my shoulder as I buried my face into your neck. I tried to sooth you as I had my small breakdown quite unfairly in the first few minutes of awake time you experienced. Once I began I couldn't stop and I rocked you until the tears stopped not stilling my motions until we were both asleep still wrapped into each other. The doctor was not so happy when he came in to see you had been awake and I had not summoned anyone but I couldn't care. You were alive and we had those first few hours together. No one could ever take that away from us. There is no greater adrenaline rush in life then that moment when you realize life is not over, not yet.
It is slow going and though your memories are mostly in tact there are many fine motor skills that have to be relearned. Together we go through rehab and learning how to live again. But nothing in my life has ever compared to the day that I got to bring you home. When we walked through that threshold together it finally hit home not only what I almost lost but what I had regained and how precious this life we have really is. And for the last time I broke down into sobs of release. The only difference this time is that you are there to comfort me.
Warnings for angst and fluff. It's really a fanfic but I'm not saying anymore about that. I'll leave it to your imagination to pick your favorite pairing. If there are any mistakes you'll have to forgive me it's unbeta'd.