A couple days had passed since Chad had passed away, but it had felt like a lifetime to Nicole. Since Ryan had brought her home from the hospital she had shut everyone out, except her son. At that point, that little boy was the only one that was able to make her smile. Holly, her mother, had offered to take Hudson and bring him home for dinner every night until she was ready to pick herself up and start living her life again. Nicole had been extremely appreciative, but she did miss her son more than she could put into words.
Besides her mother, her father and her son, she hadn’t spoken to anyone. Beth had tried to get through to her, but Nicole would quickly tell her she couldn’t talk and hang up the phone. Ryan, Alex and Anna had all sent her text messages, but she didn’t respond to them. She had no idea what to say to them and even though Chad hadn’t been a part of her world for several months before he passed away, she felt alone and lost without him.
Nicole was sitting on the couch in her living room, wearing Chad’s favorite pair of sweat pants and a baggy old t-shirt with their wedding album in her lap. She had been sitting this way for two hours and hadn’t gathered up enough courage or emotional energy to open the album. The picture on the front cover of the album was one of her and Chad smiling happily right after they had been introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Sanders. It had been the best day of her life and now all of that was gone with no possibility of reconciling. The happiness, the love, Chad’s presence, all the feelings were gone and she was left feeling heartbroken, devastated, sad and lonely. Even the thought that at the end Chad had wanted to end things with Anna and come back home to her and Hudson hadn’t made her feel any better.
Nicole looked down at her stomach as she felt it lurch and in a matter of seconds the album was on the floor and she was running down the hall to the bathroom. The nausea came out of nowhere as she fell to the floor and emptied the contents of her stomach into the toilet. She hadn’t eaten very much since Chad had died and she wasn’t sure what was causing her sickness. Other than the nausea, she felt fine. She didn’t have much time to think about it before another wave rolled through her.
Once Nicole had cleaned herself up she made her way down stairs for some ginger ale when her home phone rang. She hurried into the kitchen and looked at the call display and answered it reluctantly when she saw that it was Dr. Mason. She hadn’t talked to her since her counselling appointment with Chad the evening before he passed away.
“Hello,” Nicole said quietly.
“Nicole, hi, it’s Dr. Mason,” she said nicely on the other end, “I was just calling to book another appointment for you and Chad. Although I know that things are coming to an end between you, I still think it’s wise that we try to work through some things so that you two can make it easier on Hudson when the divorce actually happens.”
Nicole sighed and stared up at the ceiling. Clearly Dr. Mason hadn’t heard the news of Chad’s death. She took a deep breath and prepared herself and mentally tried to plan on how she was going to tell Dr. Mason.
“I should have called you earlier Dr. Mason,” Nicole responded quietly, “Chad was in a horrible accident the same night of our last counselling appointment with you. Unfortunately, his injuries were too numerous and way too serious and the doctors were unable to save him. He passed away two days ago…”
There was silence on the line, clearly Dr. Mason was trying to process the information. This gave Nicole time to regroup as she quickly brushed the tears off her cheeks.
“Nicole, I don’t even know what to say,” Dr. Mason replied sympathetically, “I’m so sorry for your loss. Did you want to talk? I can make an emergency house call if required.”
“You would really do that for me?” Nicole questioned.
“Yes, absolutely,” Dr. Mason replied, “I have all morning tomorrow open. Did you want me to stop by?”
“Yes, that would be great,” Nicole replied gratefully, “Would 10:00 a.m. be ok? I just have to take Hudson to my parents’ house and then I will be free.”
“Yes, of course,” Dr. Mason replied, “I will stop by at 10:00.”
Once they said their goodbyes Nicole hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t think that she would feel up to talking things through so soon, but as soon as Dr. Mason had offered her time, Nicole felt that it was time. She knew that one session with Dr. Mason wasn’t going to take away the pain and heartbreak of losing her husband, but at least it was a start.
Ryan had been sitting in his office at work, unable to concentrate. He had woken up early that Saturday morning and thought that throwing himself into work would distract him. He had been wrong. What he saw on that Wednesday evening, the day Chad passed away, had haunted him. He wasn’t able to get the sight out of his mind and he wished that Nicole would open up to him. He wished he could hold her and take away the pain, but he knew that wasn’t possible.
Flashback (2 Days Ago)
“Excuse me, Mr. Wilson,” Dr. Burrows said as she approached him, “Beth has offered to take her sister home, but I was wondering if you would be able to take Nicole home? I know she drove here, but she is unable to drive herself home right now.”
Ryan looked up at the doctor unsure of why she was asking him this. Had something happened, he wondered to himself.
“I’m confused,” Ryan responded, “What is going on?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought someone told you,” Dr. Burrows replied sympathetically, “Mr. Sanders passed away about an hour ago and Nicole refuses to leave his side. I told her to take all the time she needs. Anna, on the other hand, has been informed but refuses to go in and say goodbye and wants to leave.”
“Jesus,” Ryan mumbled more to himself than to Dr. Burrows before looking up at her again, “Of course I will take her home.”
After Dr. Burrows walked away Ryan sat there trying to comprehend the news that she had just given him. He couldn’t believe that Chad had died and he couldn’t even imagine what Nicole was going through. But he did think it was a little weird that Anna left without saying her goodbyes to Chad.
Ryan stood up and made his way down the hall to Chad’s room and took a deep breath before quietly pushing the door open. It was so quiet and dark. The machines had been turned off and there was nothing but eerie silence surrounding him. He looked over towards the bed and he could just make out Chad’s figure and Nicole’s figure curled up beside him.
He made his way over to the bed and looked down. Nicole’s head was resting on Chad’s chest and she was crying silently. Her face was a clear picture of what pain, sadness and loss looked like and Nicole was always one to wear her emotions on her sleeve. She had never been able to hide her feelings, no matter how hard she tried, but today she wasn’t trying. He moved his eyes from her and focused on Chad for a moment. He looked so peaceful, like he was sleeping. Just by looking at him, you wouldn’t be able to tell that he was no longer physically there.
“Nic, sweetheart, we should probably go now,” Ryan whispered as he rested his hand on her shoulder.
Nicole looked up at him for the first time and he could see just how heartbroken she was, he could see the pain instantly in her eyes.
“I’m not ready to go yet,” she mumbled, “I can’t leave him, not yet.”Nicole turned her back on him and laid her head on Chad’s chest again. Ryan pulled up a chair and sat by the bed and reached for Nicole’s available hand which was hanging loosely by her side. She gripped his hand and they sat there quietly. He was in no rush to make her leave, but it was only a matter of time before the doctors would have to remove Chad from the room.
Ryan rubbed his eyes as the exhaustion kicked in and decided that trying to work during this time was futile. He turned his computer off, tried to tidy up his desk a little and then turned the light off in his office and walked out.
“Jan, I can’t concentrate today,” Ryan said as he walked down the hall to his assistant’s office, “Please cancel my appointments and rebook whatever you can for next week. I’ll be in Monday afternoon after the funeral.”
“Ok Mr. Wilson,” Jan replied sympathetically, “Take care.”Ryan smiled at her as he made his way down the hall towards the bank of elevators. Golf, that should help him take his mind off things for a while and then maybe he would head over to Nicole’s and see if she needed any help with funeral preparations.
It was noon on Friday as Nicole sat in her car in front of Anna’s apartment. She had received numerous calls and texts from Anna in the last 36 hours and hadn’t been able to call her back, but now she was ready to try and face the world again. She had already called Beth and they planned to get together that afternoon and finalize the plans for the funeral. She hadn’t had to contact Chad’s family as both of his parents had passed away early on in his life and he was an only child.
She walked up to the front door of the apartment building and buzzed Anna and waited patiently.
“Hello,” she heard Anna say quietly on the other end.
“Hey sweetheart,” Nicole replied, “It’s Nicole.”
There was no response but a buzz rang through to let her in. Nicole opened the door and took the stairs two at a time to Anna’s door. The door was already open when Nicole got there and Anna stood in the doorway, her eyes were red and she had very dark circles under them and she looked about as good as Nicole felt.
“I’m so sorry Anna that I didn’t respond to your calls and messages,” Nicole said after Anna let her in, “I shouldn’t have shut you out.”
“It’s ok...I understand,” Anna said as she shut the door and then sat down at the kitchen table across from Nicole, “Despite what we put you through I knew that you would respond eventually. And this can’t be easy for you, dealing with the loss of your husband.”
“Still, I should have responded to you,” Nicole stated, noticing that Anna was trying hard not to let the tears fall, “Anna, what’s wrong?”
Anna looked at Nicole for a moment before she crumbled. The sobs that escaped from Anna’s throat shook Nicole to her core and haunted her. She reached across the table and held Anna’s hand in hers, trying to comfort her as best she could without knowing what was going on inside of Anna.
“Anna, please try to breathe and tell me what’s going on?” Nicole pleaded quietly, “What can I do?”
“The...the stress of losing Chad...it was too much,” Anna stammered, trying to get control of the sobs that had taken over, “It was too much for the baby...I miscarried last night, but I couldn’t tell anybody. Nicole, the only person I wanted to tell was you. I had to go to the hospital, so I took a cab and they released me early this morning. I’m devastated...”
Nicole should have been happy when Anna broke the news to her, but in fact, she felt the opposite of happy. Her heart sank in her chest and the tears threatened to fall, but she refused to cry in front of Anna. She had to be strong for Anna.
“Anna...I don’t know what to say,” Nicole whispered as she rubbed her thumb in small circles over Anna’s hand, “I wish I could rewind back to yesterday so that I could have been there with you. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you Nicole,” Anna replied mechanically, “I appreciate your friendship during this even though I put you through hell over the last several months. Most people would probably have just left me to deal on my own, but you are different than most people. Thank you for your compassion.”
Nicole nodded and smiled sadly at Anna, unsure of how to respond. Being the bigger person was the hardest thing she had to do, but she knew she would feel horrible if she just abandoned Anna during a difficult time such as this one. It would just be cruel to leave her to deal with it on her own.
“I’m here for you Anna,” Nicole said quietly, “If you need anything at all.”