She nearly died...
She had been laid on the bed in a deep slumber.
...She was still breathing, her heart was still beating...
She was still alive!
I had been watching her since she had been born and I have always been beside her. I was there when she first opened her big gray sparkling and curious eyes. I was there when she first smiled and giggled as a tiny baby. I was there when she first stepped, when she first fell and hurt her knee, when she played, laughed and cried. I gladly guarded her throughout each day and night of every year of her life. Kindergarten passed, elementary school, high school and college passed as well and I continued to behold and smile as her life companion openly took her hand and declared his love.
I, Rafael, inhabitant of the Celestial Homeland send to protect the dainty Tamara, watched how the little bud bloomed and blossomed, and turned into the graceful white rose that she is now... A purity etherized by dark thorns...
As the night slowly wrapped around the city, spreading its routine upon each normal, busy or ill person, Tamara half opened her eyes then she gently closed her eyelashes again, her body returning to composing a melodious rhythm of her breathing. She was falling in a dreamless sleep. Her doctor glanced at her one more time before he left the ward filled with continuous hospital beeping sounds. He returned after a short time with her file, softly stepping into the room, and sitting in the chair next to her bed. He took the papers out of the file and placed them at the end of the bed in a chronological order, investigating each electrocardiogram, each pacemaker reading and each information about the patient.
I remember how his complexion paled and how his forehead had been stained by the aging and stress' weary lines. He was still sorrowful. Aron felt guilty just by beholding his wife’s features. He despised himself for being an egocentric man who only thought about his passion for medicine. He had been so engulfed in his work, days and nights, that he even refused to resist his urge to participate in an ESC(1) congress in Germany. He knew very well of his wife’s condition yet he still left, believing that she would be alright during the days he would be far from her. He thought that Amma would have been alright taking care of their step-son, herself and the life she was carrying because their parents would have been there with her, but even so, with all the attention, she needed his. His appreciation and attention were two essential things she needed, which to her were long forgotten.
Oblivious to his family’s desires, Aron had enjoyed every second of the congress, but as the plane was taking off from Germany, he received a message that informed him of Tamara’s accident. Then the color in his cheeks disappeared and anguish painted his blue eyes and entire figure since; he became tense, restless and anxious as the adrenaline level increased. As soon as the plane landed, he took a cab to the hospital where their families where sobbing and waiting for news from the operating room where Tamara had already been for three hours.
Aron hurriedly changed into his uniform and stormed inside the operating room, instantly freezing. He hoped and clung to that hope that there had not been lain his Tamara, but it was her. Drops of sweat formed on his forehead and his hands shook terribly at the sight in front of him as doctors Lennon, Doyle and Hayes yelled for someone to get him out.
“Aron, you can’t help her now! Just look at your hands trembling. Listen to me and let them do their job. They have known Tamara since she was three. Just stay out of it,” Matt Nolan, his best friend, softly suggested.
“Amma is my wife! What do you mean ‘stay out of it’?!” He screamed, glaring at Matt.
“Akerman! Your wife is dying as we speak! Her life chances are dangerously low. You can’t work with a shock of a storm howling inside your mind! Get. Out,” Dr. Hayes threateningly stepped closer to Aron, crying every word.
“Hayes, hurry, she went into cardiac arrest!”
Aron jolted up in his chair when he felt a hand being placed on his shoulder that snapped him out of his memory. A man in his late 50s was tiredly looking down at him and he instantly jumped on his feet.
“I thought you went home,” The doctor spoke, confused.
“Are you on duty tonight, Aron?”
Aron heaved an exhausting sigh and rubbed his tired eyes, “No.”
“Then go home and rest, son.”
“I can’t. Jonathan, you gave me your daughter and I vowed to love and protect her and look where we are now! Look where she is! This is all my fault. If it hadn’t been for my selfishness.”
The old man sympathetically gave his son-in-law a warm smile, one that held no repulse and no regret, “Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It wasn’t your fault-“
“Yes, it was. I am a doctor and I knew from the very beginning about her condition. I knew that it was critical for Amma to bear a child, but I thought: Why not with the development in technology? Adopting Caleb was not enough for me,” Aron trailed off, lowering his gaze on his wife’s face, “and I’m ashamed of myself.”
“Aron,” Jonathan attempted to soothe him.
“I can’t even sleep. Whenever I close my eyes I have the same nightmare in which I’m at home with my sister, grieving after Amma. Iris keeps excrutiatingly crying her name, holding my daughter in her arms and after some time Caleb walks in and asks me where is his mommy,” Aron buried his face in his hands to veil his sorrow while Jonathan felt more useless as the young doctor was losing his patience.
“Perhaps we should take a walk. What do you say?”
Serenely smiling, the old man exited the ward without hearing his answer, knowing that he would follow him. They reached the waiting room and sat in the chairs. Taking a mouthful of air and courage, Jonathan began to tell the story about Tamara.
"I remember when we first found out about her heart condition," He smiled, thinking at the chirping voice of his daughter, "She was only two years and eleven months old. My wife was devastated when she learnt the truth and I, I just couldn't believe it. I was watching Tamara and she seemed normal: she played, she jumped, laughed and did everything a normal three year old would do. I was confused and speechless and I can still remember how shocked I was when the doctors told us that she needed surgery. I was here, right in this hospital, with a pen in my hand ready to sign and agree with the surgery, but I couldn't sign it. How could this happen, I used to say. Eventually I signed the paper and I calmed down. I kept telling myself that she would be fine. The surgery would be performed and Tamara would be fine, but," Jonathan's voice broke. He gulped and cleared his throat.
"But what?" Aron who had his head in his hands, slowly looked up at him.
Looking blankly at something in the distance, the old man continued, "When the doors of the operating room opened and the bed came out I was expecting to see her normally sleeping, but there was nothing normal about her anymore. A tube was placed through her mouth, IVs were all over her, all sorts of wires were connected to her, then a pair of wires was stitched to her skin. She was connected to an external electric pacemaker as well. She was so tiny among all that wires. I thought for a second that that was science fiction, but it wasn’t. That was a horrifying image!"
Aron was amazed as the story about his wife became more and more difficult to tell.
"That night Tamara was resting in the ICU. Viviane and I weren't allowed to see her. Shortly after she was brought there, Tamah woke up and as she didn't see me nor her mother she started crying. Two nurses came in to put her to sleep, but," Jonathan shook his head sadly smiling and continued incredulously, "she fought with them. Tamara sat up, a three year old who just underwent surgery, sat up in her bed and violently pulled out the wires that were stitched to her skin. All of these because she wanted her mother and I next to her bed. The nurses had no choice but to let us in. I remember the doctor returned to the hospital that night to stitch back the wires. Nine days after the surgery, Tamara had her first permanent pacemaker implanted. I was puzzled then. Why does she need a pacemaker? What happened? These and many, many other questions were bothering me. Finally, she was released and the torture began: six or eight medicines a day, or so, I can't even remember, monthly blood tests, a strict diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and almost no salt. Tamara managed to live a normal life for relatively three years until the symptoms returned brutally," Jonathan sighed and turned to the doctor, smiling, "Speaking of return. When are you planning to go home and sleep?
"Don't worry about me. Carry on with the story," Aron pleaded with the eagerness in his eyes.
"Aron, I saw my daughter once again today, but she isn't the only reason why I am here. I came because your parents told me that you haven't been home for a week. Go home, son, and trust me that Tamara will be fine," Jonathan patted his shoulder and shook Aron's hand.
"I'm going to leave now and please go home. Good night!"
Aron returned the old man's smile as they shook their hands, and watched him leave. He waved then slowly headed to his office to take his phone and keys. Before removing his white coat, he swiftly reached another ward, the Newborn Intensive Care, where his little daughter was sleeping at that moment. He entered the room and headed straight for his baby, a tiny pretty baby girl. Aron gingerly lifted the child and swung her in his arms.
„How is she?" He wanted to know, looking up from his daughter to the nurse.
„Well, we've done many tests and it seems that your litttle pearl did not inherit her mother's disease. Other than that, she is really excited to go home," She explained, smiling at the picture in front of her.
„Thank you, Janice. I still can't believe that they both survived. When I discovered that she had anemia and then the accident," He trailed off, ”I am still horrified by how she crawled up the slope after the car fell into the river passing and missing trees. Amma doesn’t even know how to swim yet she struggled to stay at the surface,” Aron fell silent, looking back at the new life in his arms, ”And Marisa survived and is healthy,” He smiled as his daughter flickered her eyelids which uncovered a pair of beautiful gray eyes. She lifted one hand as if trying to reach her father’s face and then rubbed her nose, a tiny pointy nose that already gave signs of resembling Aron’s.
”I think it’s a miracle!” Janice beamed, ”It’s hard to believe, but she survived everything. I guess that God you are always speaking about exists,” She fell silent as she continued to smile, scanning a paper, ”What I’m trying to say is that having what it says here and adding up the accident, anemia and her pregnancy, it’s impossible for a human to survive, not only if you ask me but everyone.”
”I still don’t get why she was anemic.”
”Arron, you forgot women tend to suffer of anemia during their pregnancy? You should have seen it coming up," Janice trailed off as she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion reading what it was writtten on the paper, ”Operative correction of common partial AV(2) canal – ostium primum ASD(3) with cleft mitral valve for severe mitral regurgitation and permanent cardiac stimulation for third degree atrioventricular block. Amazing!” The middle-aged woman blissfully smiled at him.
“Yet I can’t help but blame myself for everything that Amma had been through. I should have been more caring towards her. Most certainly, I never should have left to Germany in the first place.”
„Don't blame yourself now. It's not all your fault. What could you have done? Were you to save her from the accident or wake her up from the coma or to heal her completely? No, you are only a human, Aron-„
”A useless one," He placed his daughter back on the bed and faced Janice, ”I wasn't even able to assist my own daughter's birth, Janice," He heaved a long sigh and spoke again, ”I'm going home. Please take care of her. Good night!"
Aron waved at the nurse, turning on his heels, and left. He hurriedly checked on Tamara and headed home. During the twenty minutes of driving he was still thinking about his wife's unfortunate situation, but that thought was soon melted as the happiness of seeing her back home filled his mind.
1 – European Society of Cardiology
2 – Atrioventricular
3 – Atrial Septal Defect