Chapter 26 | A Tarnished Silver Lining
“I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired.”
“You and me both.” I yawn, casting a glance over to Callie. Lucy has been passed out for the last forty-five minutes. It’s a little after two in the morning, and Mark has been back with his mom making sure she doesn’t need anything.
We’re still waiting on his blood results to come back, and I just pray to God he’s a match, because if he can’t do anything to save his mother’s life I know it will haunt him forever.
Mark may not seem like it on the outside, but on the inside he’s just a little kid again, wanting his mom to be there for him as much as humanly possible. She wasn’t exactly mother of the year while Mark was growing up, but I know she’s been trying lately to break her habits, so I just hope it all works out in the end.
If not, it will devastate him.
“Do you want another cup of coffee? I think I need another.” Callie asks while standing up from the plush, leather chair.
“Yes please.” I nod with a smile.
Callie wanders off to the cafeteria, in search for more caffeine. I, on the other hand, continue to wait patiently for Mark.
Suddenly, my phone vibrates, causing me to jump. It’s a text.
Connor: How’s he holding up? Any news?
Me: Nope, no news yet. Still waiting. I honestly don’t know how he’s holding up. I wish I knew.
Connor: Give him time, he needs time to process. This isn’t just anyone, this is his mom. Someone he already has a lot of resentment and baggage towards.
Me: I know, it’s just so hard not knowing.
I feel my phone vibrate once more, but before I can open the text message to reply, Mark comes storming through the double-doors.
“FUCK!” He shouts, causing the receptionist to shoot him a glare.
I’m immediately on my feet, rushing over to him.
“Mark, what’s wrong? What happened?”
“It doesn’t make any fucking sense, I’m her child!” He cries, his face red with tears in his eyes.
Then all of a sudden, realization smacks me in the face, almost startling me.
“Oh no... you’re not a match?” I barely say above a whisper.
“What the fuck am I supposed to do now?” Mark begs me for answers, answers I’ll never be able to give him myself.
In a matter of seconds, I have him pulled into my arms, his face buried in the crook of my neck.
As his tears stain my shirt, my fingers glide soothingly through his tousled hair.
“I’m so sorry baby, I promise, we will figure this out. They will put her on the emergency transplant list, and until then we can contact any other relatives you have that may be a match. We can still save her.” I try to reassure, spouting promises that I’m terrified I won’t be able to keep.
“No Naveah, we can’t call anyone. We don’t have anyone. My father is MIA, my grandparents on my mother’s side are dead, I’ve never met my grandparents on my father’s side, and I don’t have any aunts or uncles that I know about. My mom was an only child. I’m all she has, and I can’t do shit for her. What good am I? What kind of son can’t help his own mother?” He rants, pulling away from me in frustration.
“Mark, please, I’m just trying to help. We can figure something out, this isn’t the end.” I plea, trying to bring him back into my arms. He resists, walking out of the ER and into the parking lot.
I’m frozen in my spot, unable to move. What the hell is happening? Why now? Why when everything is finally going good for us? What has Mark done to deserve this kind of cruelty?
A few moments later, Callie and Lucy are both by my side, their arms wrapped around me for support.
“I can’t believe this...” Lucy trails off, “I wish I knew what to do for him, or for you.”
“Naveah, I’m so sorry. We’re here for you, for whatever you need.” Callie adds, squeezing my shoulder reassuringly.
While I appreciate their words, they do absolutely nothing to reassure me of anything. We’re at a dead end. There is no light at the end of this tunnel. It’s over. Mark is spiraling into a depression that I don’t know how to help him out of, he’s losing the one family member he has, and slowly. How is he supposed to stand by and watch his mother die, without being able to do anything for her, other than watch?
It’s literally going to kill him, and that’s my worst fear.
I watch Mark as he asks a stranger for a cigarette, frowning since he hasn’t smoked in a long time.
“You know what?” I begin, shaking my head, “I don’t accept this. There’s got to be something more we can do. I need to speak with the doctor.” I announce.
“How? You aren’t allowed back there, and Mark isn’t going to want to speak to him right now.” Lucy comments.
“I don’t care.” I say simply.
I leave my friends and walk over to the receptionists’ desk. The older woman glances up at me, remembering me from before.
“May I help you dear?”
“I need to speak with the doctor of Mrs. Chase, who is currently in the ICU.” I say firmly.
“Sweetie, the doctor is very busy, I can’t page him out here for a chat.” The woman says, her monotonous voice irritating me all of a sudden.
“I don’t care, tell him it’s important. It’s about his patient. He should want to help his patient, right? Isn’t that what hospitals try to enforce? Good customer service? Putting the patients and their families first?” I raise an eyebrow, not giving this woman an inch.
She eyes me skeptically, before sighing as she eventually begins typing on her computer.
“I’ve sent a page to his phone, you may wait over there.” She glances toward the waiting area, giving me a forced smile. “Is there anything else I may assist you with?”
“Nope.” I smile back cockily, “Thank you.”
I walk back over to Lucy and Callie, both of them following me over to the waiting area. We take our seats, and I’m finally able to take a deep breath. I left Mark outside for a bit, giving him some alone time, because I know he’ll appreciate it.
After around fifteen minutes, a middle-aged male doctor comes rushing out of the double-doors.
I don’t know for sure if it’s the doctor I’m looking for, but since he’s the only doctor that’s come out of those doors the entire night, and I just forced the receptionist to page a doctor, I assume it’s the doctor in question.
I quickly stand up and walk over to him, “Are you the doctor for a Mrs. Chase?”
“I am, are you the persistent family or friend that paged me?” He raises an eyebrow, a slight smirk on his face.
“I am.” I nod, “I have some questions for you regarding Mrs. Chase.” I begin, which gains the doctor’s attention.
“Go on.” He nods.
“I know that Mark isn’t a match, but there’s got to be something else we can do.” I start my plea.
“I understand Mark’s frustrations, however we are doing all we can for his mother. I have the nurses contacting UNOS every hour. All we can do right now is wait and prepare for any possible outcome.” The tall doctor standing before me states. “I am so sorry that this is happening to your friend, but all we can do now is just remain optimistic.”
“He’s not my friend, he’s my boyfriend, my boyfriend that I love the hell out of. I can’t just sit here and do nothing while he suffers. This isn’t just anyone, this is his mother. The only family member he has left, since his dad was too much of a loser to stick around.” I rant.
“About that, I didn’t want to mention this to Mark, but we have record of his father in our system. His father’s account came up in the database when we searched for any previous records pertaining to his mother. Their last names are the same, so we saw that they were previously married. I wasn’t going to reach out, because I know that they are divorced, however...” He trails off, giving me a long and worrisome sigh.
I don’t know how, but I just knew what the doctor was going to say next.
“Please don’t tell me...” I frown.
“Mark’s father is a blood match to his mother. Something like this is very rare, but if Mark has any contact with his father at all, he may be able to donate for Mrs. Chase.” The doctor explains.
My stomach drops, all hope gone yet again. I knew it.
“So basically, what you’re saying Dr...” I trail off, waiting for him to give me his name.
“What you’re saying Dr. Bennett, is that the only person who can save her life, is the very man who left them both years ago and hasn’t even tried to contact them since?” I all but laugh, this situation growing more impossible as the night goes on.
“Unfortunately, yes. If Mark wants to reach out to his father, we do have an address on file we can give him, although I can’t guarantee he still resides there.” Dr. Bennett says, the frown on his face matching my own.
I slowly begin shaking my head, “This is too much. This is ridiculous. How am I supposed to sit him down and tell him this?”
“Tell me what?”
My head snaps around to reveal a very sad Mark, his eyes bloodshot, and his cheeks red and puffy.
Dr. Bennett senses my distress, so he steps forward to give Mark the news himself, relieving me of the difficult task.
“Mark, according to our hospital records, we do have a match for your mother.” Dr. Bennett begins, carefully.
“What? Who? Call them now!” Mark urges.
“Babe, hang on a second, it isn’t that simple.” I finally find my voice.
“What do you mean it isn’t that simple? Call them right now!”
“Mark! Listen to me, please...” I trail off, taking a step closer to him and taking his shaking hands in mine, “The possible donor, is your father.”
Mark’s hands immediately stop shaking, just as quick as they drop from my grasp.
“What?” His face turns stoic, no expression, completely blank.
I was afraid of that.
“We found records pertaining to your father from a previous surgery he had here many years ago, and his blood type matches your mother’s, coincidentally.” Dr. Bennett explains.
A few moments of silence go by, Callie and Lucy watching the scene from the other side of the waiting area.
After another few moments, Mark begins to laugh.
Dr. Bennett and I exchange worried glances.
“Mark?” I say, trying to snap him out of it.
He continues to laugh, so much so that his face turns red as tears come out of his eyes. After a while, he finally begins to speak in between laughs.
“You mean to tell me... that the only person who can save my mother... is my deadbeat father? That her only son can’t save her... the only son that came from her womb, and shares her DNA, can’t save her... but her cheating ex-husband can...?” Mark finally gets out, his face still red, and his eyes more bloodshot than ever.
“That’s a good one, Doc! You really had me going for a second!” Mark finally sobers up, wiping the tears from the corners of his eyes.
“This isn’t a joke, Mark. Your father is the only potential donor we have as of right now. If my nurses can’t get a liver from UNOS within the next couple weeks, your mother could die.” Dr. Bennett states, rather harshly. “I know this is very difficult for you, but-“, Mark cuts him off immediately, not allowing him to finish.
“No! You don’t know anything! That piece of shit left when I was a kid! He didn’t care about me or my mother when he left, so why would he care now? He’s not going to give up half of his liver for a woman he couldn’t even be bothered to stay faithful to, nor to his son who he hasn’t even had the decency to call once since he left! So no, Doc, you don’t know shit!” Mark rants rather loudly, gaining the attention of every single person in this waiting room.
My heart shatters at his vulnerability.
Dr. Bennett doesn’t say anything at first, only motions for Mark and me to follow him over to the many chairs lining the waiting room. The three of us sit down, and then Dr. Bennett finally starts to speak.
“Mark, I understand more than you know. My father left my family when I was ten years old. Ten. I had three little sisters at the time who drove my mother to insanity. She couldn’t keep the bills paid, so we had to move into a two bedroom apartment. That’s right, two bedroom. So I shared a room with two of my little sisters, the youngest was kept with our mother in her room. The five of us shared that apartment for six years. Our father left us with nothing, and I haven’t spoken to him once since the day he left. I know exactly what you’re going through. It isn’t easy, none of it is. However, if I was in your position, if I was going through the amount of stress and pain that you’re going through, I would try anything possible. I wouldn’t stop until I had no more moves left. As much as you hate that man, you love your mother even more, right?”
Mark nods, tears brimming his tired eyes, but not yet falling.
“Then find your father. Confront him. And maybe, just maybe, he might surprise you.” Dr. Bennett says, resting a supportive hand against Mark’s shoulder.
“Are you sure I should do this?” Mark finally asks, looking up into Dr. Bennett’s eyes. I squeeze Mark’s hand for support, letting him know that I’m here for him every step of the way.
“I think your mother’s life, is well worth the risk.” Dr. Bennett nods.
“I was afraid you’d say that...” Mark sighs, running his free hand through his hair.
“Listen, I know this is extremely difficult, and I’m not saying it’s going to work out the way that you want it to, but all you can do is try.” Dr. Bennett says, “That’s all any of us can do at this point.”
Mark doesn’t give it another thought.
“Give me the address.”
“Very well. I’ll have one of the nurses bring it out to you shortly.”
Dr. Bennett and Mark shake hands, before Dr. Bennett retreats back toward the double-doors, disappearing behind them.
I warily glance to Mark, his face still stoic.
“Are you sure about this?” I finally ask, causing him to glance over at me. This is the first time he’s looked into my eyes since the long night began.
“I’ve never been so sure about anything in my entire life.”