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March 7, 2015 1:16 am  #1

Rolling Waves

One of the many stories I have played through in my head. Hope you like it!  Sorry for the medical jargon.

She walked slowly down the stairs, treading as lightly as she could.  She had just finished putting the youngest to sleep and she was exhausted.  She hadn't put kids to bed since she was a teenager babysitting, but as tired as she felt, she knew from how his shoulders slumped he didn't have the energy to do it.  Standing on the third step she surveyed his exhausted frame through the soft breeze of the open doors as he sat on the porch looking out over the abyss of the ocean backlit by the  glow of the house.  She wasn't sure how she had gotten there.  They had only been on a few dates and until now, as he had just undergone a divorce, they had kept things light.  They bantered back and forth in between takes on set, and he had attempted to teach her to surf.  He had only just kissed her the last time they had gone out.  She hadn't expected to be called on like this, though she was happy he had.

That evening when she had seen his name on her cell, she had gotten the familiar butterfly flip flop in her stomach that she always did when he called.  She answered but his tone instantly removed the smile from her face.

"Hey, it's my mom, I wouldn't ask, but you know about this stuff.  Can you come to General?"

She had assured him she would be there and had gotten in her car immediately.  Once there, she had been directed to the ICU, a place she had been multiple times, but never in this capacity.  He had looked lost, though wound tight in an attempt to maintain control as he stood over the bed.  She watched him visibly sigh in relief when he saw her. 

"I'm so sorry," she told him, not knowing much of what was going on, but a quick glance at all the drips, ventilator, and vital signs told her it wasn't good.  He gently pulled her into a hug and rested his chin on her shoulder.  She traced slow circles on his back trying to offer comfort.  When he pulled away, he seemed deflated. 
"I'm sorry to ask, but I don't understand any of what is going on.  They've explained it multiple times, but I want to hear it from you.  Maybe it will make sense coming from you."  She nodded wordlessly. 

She stepped out of the room and walked to the nursing station, asking for her nurse.
"Hi, is the intensivist available?"  she asked
"Just a minute, I'll get him for you."

A few moments later she had introduced herself to the ICU doctor, and they sat in his office to discuss her case as colleagues

"She was on coumadin and her INR was supratherapeutic.  She fell at home and no one found her for probably around 10 hours.  By the time she got to the ER, her GCS was 3 and she was in rhabdo.  She had a massive subdural hematoma.  Despite attempting to reverse her and taking her to the OR for a craniectomy, she's remained unresponsive and unstable.  She's in renal failure and will likely need CRRT in the next few hours, she's in DIC, and we can't control her ICP.  She failed her first brain death exam, no brainstem reflexes.  Most recent CT scan shows herniation and diffuse edema. Unfortunately, I don't think there's much else we are going to be able to do," he told her candidly. She smiled sadly, and shook his hand.  This was going to be a difficulty conversation.  Funny, she had done this many times before, but it didn't prepare her for this.

She slowly walked into the room where he sat holding his mother's hand.  He looked up at her, but when he met her eyes, he looked down at his feet.

"Your face tells me everything I need to know." 

"I'm so sorry," she breathed. 

"I just needed to hear it from you." he said, sitting back and scrubbing his face. " You know she told me she never wanted to live like this.  She looked me square in the eye and said, Honey if it ever gets this bad, you let me go..." his voice was small and pained.  He looked up at her with unshed tears in his eyes, wordlessly asking her to tell him it wasn't true.  "Are we at that point?"

She swallowed hard, sat down and took his hands in hers.  She watched his heart break as she nodded.  She hated this, but the best thing she could do was be honest with him.  The muscles in his jaw worked furiously as he tried to compose himself.  She gently placed a hand on his shoulder and studied the floor.  When he finally spoke, she barely heard him.  "How do we do this?"  She slowly rose to start the process of withdrawal. 

It took only a few moments to sign the papers.  The doctor explained that they would wait until his family could be there to begin the process.  For some reason, this seemed to instill a sense of panic in him.  Desperately, he asked her, "How am I going to tell them?"  "I'll be right there.  I'll help," she reassured him. 

When his 3 year old daughter and 10 year old son arrived, he sat them down to talk. He tried multiple times but couldn't get the words out.  She eventually placed a hand on his shoulder, and he got up to look out he window while she explained to his children what would happen.  She spoke with them separately, trying to tailor things to their understanding.  Never having been trained to break the news to children, she used her intuition and hoped she had gotten it right. 

She stood outside the room while the doctors turned off the machines and pulled the ET tube.  Somehow, she knew this moment was just for family and her presence would be intrusive.  As she had stepped out gently closing the door, she had caught his glistening eyes and given him a small smile of support.  She hoped it had conveyed all she felt.  Now, with her eyes closed, she listened to the tones of the monitors get lower and space out, until the nurse switched them off.  Quietly, the ICU doctor pronounced her and left.  She had taken the children to the waiting room and played games with them, leaving him a moment of solitude alone with his mother. 

As they left the hospital, he had intertwined his fingers in hers and leaned heavily on her.  "Can you come by the house?  I don't want to be alone."  She would have followed him anywhere.

Now, she slipped off her sandals and quietly padded out onto the patio lowering herself into the chair next to him. He continued staring straight ahead, and she followed his gaze out into the rolling blackness of the ocean, suddenly feeling minute and insignificant.  Their attention was drawn by the sound of running feet.  His little girl's dirty blonde curls bounced and caught the light as she came toward them. 

"Daddy, I'm sorry."  She watched him steady his features and give her a tired smile as he pulled her onto his lap. 
"I forgot to give you a hug!  Rene told me to be extra nice to you today because you had to make a really hard decision for Grandma and that you would be really sad.  I forgot to give you a hug before I went to bed!"  She threw her tiny arms around him and held him with all her might.  He took a deep breath and held it, kissing her gently on her forehead. 
"Thank you, baby," he breathed, his voice hitching in his throat.  She climbed off his lap and grabbed Rene's hand. 
"Ok, now back to bed, sweetheart," she said watching the little girl bounce back into the house and scamper up the stairs.  Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him get up and walk further out onto the beach, the wind ruffling his white shirt and blonde curls.

She stood and slowly approached him, the warmth from the day still present in the sand moving in between her toes.  Tears rolled down his cheeks like the waves rolled onto the beach and caught the light from the house.  He hadn't wanted his daughter to see him cry.  She placed a gentle hand on the cool fabric of the back of his dress shirt, and he broke.  His shoulders slumped, and he brought a hand up to cover his face. 
"Oh, God..." he gasped as the first wave of grief over took him.  She moved out in front of him and gently wrapped her arms around his waist, studying his reactions so as to not move too quickly.  He pulled her toward him and buried his face in her shoulder, holding onto her as if he would break apart.  She held him as he shook, caressing the back of his head and neck with her other hand.  Gently, she rocked them, saying nothing.  There was nothing to say.  The salt from the sea breeze mingled with his tears as they trickled down her shoulder.  After a few moments, his sobs had stopped, but his tears continued to flow freely.  Keeping his eyes down, letting the drop slowly and rhythmically fall from his nose, he led her back up to the chairs.  He sat and gathered her onto his lap, closing his eyes and resting his head on her chest.  She kissed the top of his head as she listened to his breath hitch as his tears continued.  After what seemed like an hour, she stole a glance at his face and realized he had fallen asleep, exhausted.  The tear tracks were slowly drying on his face and a few last drops lingered on his jaw line.  Softly, she brushed them away, kissed his forehead, and looked out into the waves.  Vowing not to move until he awoke, she settled into him and closed her eyes, two silent tears of her own trickling down her cheek.  One for the man she held in her arms, and one for the woman she had never had the pleasure to meet.  They stayed that way until dawn.

" do not cry. They will do anything BUT cry. They stop themselves crying. And eventually they do cry if it is bad enough. So that's how you know with a man how bad it is for him. Because he would've stopped himself...Men always cry like that. They don't cry and in the end they do and if they do then it's overwhelming." ~Michael Caine

March 7, 2015 1:35 am  #2

Re: Rolling Waves

Oh my god this is brilliant. 

I'm a woman and I think women are beautiful when they cry.

March 7, 2015 4:03 pm  #3

Re: Rolling Waves

This is PHENOMENAL. Best story you've made in my opinion. I enjoyed this so much.

I love how it builds up more and more, and in the final paragraph, he just loses it. So sweet.

"Sometimes, the best way to help someone is just to be near them."
-Veronica Roth

March 7, 2015 6:00 pm  #4

Re: Rolling Waves

I'm glad you like it.  I was hoping it wasn't too much build up

" do not cry. They will do anything BUT cry. They stop themselves crying. And eventually they do cry if it is bad enough. So that's how you know with a man how bad it is for him. Because he would've stopped himself...Men always cry like that. They don't cry and in the end they do and if they do then it's overwhelming." ~Michael Caine
     Thread Starter

March 7, 2015 10:41 pm  #5

Re: Rolling Waves

I can totally see this happening - it's got a very true-to-life feel. I look forward to reading more from you!

"We have our stalking memories, and they will demand their rightful tears."

March 8, 2015 11:11 pm  #6

Re: Rolling Waves

This is amazing!  Well written, and the build-up was perfect.  


April 27, 2015 3:21 am  #7

Re: Rolling Waves

Oh wow, I somehow never read this one before, but it's great! So hot. And the ending was actually very touching.


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