I did not feel the cold as I sat outside the doctors’ rooms. There was no sound coming from the waiting room where all the other patients sat. Not a cough or a sneeze. I wondered what they thought of me as I sat there gazing into nothing. Just five minutes before I was screaming and begging the doctor to work at saving the life of a man lying on the old wooden doctors’ bed. Now I just sat there quietly wondering if I had gone completely mad. I remember thinking that the situation could not be real. My eyes were seeing, but nothing made much sense. I absently watched the grey smoke rise as the cigarette dangling between my cold fingers smoked itself. Just a few minutes before, I had witnessed David dying. His body jerked to the right and almost landed on top of me. I recall grabbing his shoulders and pushing him back onto the bed and then running from the room screaming for the doctor.I stood helplessly watching them trying to resuscitate him, it was awful. The doctor pushed David’s chest so hard that his ribs started breaking. The air rushing past his vocal chords sounded as if he was trying to say something. My heart had turned to ice. I felt nothing. There was no emotion whatsoever.
I looked up from the bench where I sat and saw my sister approaching me. Her eyes were very sad, but her concern for me was almost palpable, I was overwhelmed. Why was I so surprised by her concern?
“Hey Hon. How are you doing?”
I heard the words, but my voice was gone and I could not reply. Why was my voice gone?
“Hi Ellie.” Sister Claire, who had been the resident nurse, with our family doctor for as long as I could remember, turned to my sister. She was tall and slender with short cropped brown hair and doey brown eyes. On more than one occasion I had thought that Claire did not look like your average nurse. She looked more like an athlete. Strong and toned. I think I liked her. “Your sister is in shock and her voice is a bit croaky. This has been an overwhelming morning. We never know how someone will deal with these unexpected, heartbreaking and frightening situations. Are you going to take care of her for the next few days?”
“Yes, she will be with me. I will make sure that she takes care of herself. She has two children who love her.” Ellie said quite firmly.
“He’s alive?” I croaked, “I was sure he hadn’t made it.” I spoke to no one in particular. My sister and the nurse looked at me oddly.
This was really strange. I thought my husband had died.
Slowly I started going over the events of the morning in my hazy mind. Something just did not make sense.
*David’s office had called and told me that he had collapsed with serious chest pains. He was struggling to breathe and his colour was waxy grey. The rush to get him help was like a hazy dream and I know that the doctor had attached the sticky pads connected to the ECG machine, to his chest. The reading was not very good and I remember that the doctor had called a cardiologist at a recognized cardiology hospital. The diagnosis was not good. My husband was dying. The years of heavy drinking had finally taken their toll on his heart.
I remember a lot of shouting and confusion regarding a helicopter being dispatched to collect David and get him to a facility where he could be saved. I remember almost immediately after the doctor left the room David had a massive heart attack, followed by me screaming for help and the emergency staff rushing back into the room. I heard my own screams, but I did not recognize the voice. I remember the CPR and the sound of cracking ribs. I prayed and prayed so feverishly, begging God to give him back. Begging God to please be lenient and not to ignore my pleas. Nothing. No sense of comfort and no calming aura enveloped me. I felt ice cold fear rise and I became almost insane with panic. My eyes started to burn and then suddenly my body grew very hot, almost feverish. Which I assumed was shock and panic.
I held on to David’s legs so tightly the muscles in my arms ached and it was then that I had a conversation with the devil.
“Satan, if you can hear me, give me back my husband and when I die you can have my soul.” I whispered. My eyes were tightly shut, but the tears were pushing through and rolling down my face and dripping in puddles on David’s bed. This was not fair. We deserved a second chance. If I could get him back, I would do whatever it took. I was not expecting a reply, but every so subtly everything around me started to change.
The room grew cold and quiet and a voice I can only describe as sandpaper raspy whispered in my ear, “If you are sure that this is what you want then I can help you. But once our deal is struck there will be no turning back.” The raspy voice was so close to my ear, my hair fluttered. The air around me was freezing cold, and I was shaking feverishly. My eyes were tightly shut because I was petrified at what I might see. The cold, musty smell of dirty wet ground and decaying leaves filled the air.
Why would Satan answer me? Why would he care? At that moment I did not care. I just wanted David back. “I will do whatever I need to do to get my husband back with me. I won’t go back on my word.” I could barely get the words out of my mouth. My jaw felt as if it had been locked together and I was whispering through my teeth.
Low, raspy laughter filled my ears. “Oh, I won’t let you go back on your word.” the voice hissed into my ear. “A deal is a deal. What is it you always say? You are your word? Yes, I know you and I know how far you will go to keep your life as normal as possible. So, we have a deal then.”
Was this real or was I really losing my mind? Is this what grief does to you? Grief and insanity seem to go hand in hand. But no, this was real. How I knew this I cannot explain. I just knew that the devil had taken me up on my offer. “Yes, we have a deal.” I said in a whisper.
I opened my eyes and stared at the wall in front of me, too afraid to look at David. I could hear the voices of the doctor and the nurses, but I could not hear what they were saying. I felt hands on my arms and I was moved out of the way as they pushed Daved past me on the stretcher to the back of the doctor’s rooms. I heard the helicopter blades making Schuck-Schuck sounds. Dave, as he was affectionately known, was being hurriedly moved from our ill equipped small town to a larger town two hours away and the fastest way to get him there was via helicopter. There was a mad rush to get the gurney into the chopper. It lifted off with my husband, who I loved more than life itself. Everything went blank for a few moments and when I felt as though my body was starting to cool down I found myself sitting outside the doctor’s rooms with a cigarette between my fingers. I knew that from then on my life would never be mine again. I had just begged satan to help me and give David back to me, but he was gone. This just did not feel right. My body ached and my head felt light and I simply sat wondering if what had just happened was at all real. Everyone knows about their ‘comfort zone’ and how loathe they are to leave it no matter how destructive it was. Well, here I was, leaving the only comfort zone I had known for over ten years. Destructive or not, it was my comfort zone and it was gone!
Although I do recall having the odd occasions where I wondered if I truly did love my husband David, or was I simply trying to play at being his rescuer again. I never could tell.
My life was one that confused even me at times. David never truly committed himself to marriage and fatherhood. The alcohol abuse and the affairs were proof of that, so why did I stay? A sense of obligation? Not wanting to fail at my marriage?
It was an enigma. My life was an enigma and I knew that I too was an enigma. An old soul who had a story to tell.
The story begins with me not realising that I did not make a deal with the Devil, but a deal with Erro …….