Making You Happy
Her life had never been better. She had everything. She had him. But when love is short-lived, you can only try and make the most of it while you can.
Why him, she thought to herself. The continuing question in her mind belted at her chest like a hammer was about to break it to pieces at any minute. What did she expect? At eighteen, he had already lived a lot longer than what was given to him by the doctors.
His pale, blue eyes locked with hers in their enchanted moment. When he looked at her it was like everything else in the room faded away and life only left the two of them behind. The thought of no longer having him pained her deeply.
“What is it?” he asked, noticing the way she was looking at him. His words were cut short as each painful breath escaped from his lips.
“Nothing,” she replied softly, but he was not convinced. She didn’t want to tell him that her life would be unbearable without him. What good would that do?
His lifeless body clung to the hospital bed. He was so weak, even blinking came as a struggle for him. He seemed so different to the Nick he was a short few months ago.
He fought so hard throughout the years, but now, it was like he was too tired to fight; too tired to go on hoping that everything would work out okay. It never did.
“If only I could make you happy,” he murmured, rubbing her hand. He was cold and his pale lips trembled.
How foolish he was. Nobody in this world could make her happier. She wiped the strands of hair from her face with her free hand, inhaling deeply.
“Nick, are you going insane, too?” she laughed. “You are making me happy,” she said as she kissed his hand. “I never have and never will be happier. You are everything to me. Don’t you dare think anything else.”
He seemed content to hear it. The way he looked at her then made her heart tighten and misty tears burned her eyes. Was she asking too much by expecting him to continue fighting through this horrible battle? But she wasn’t stupid. She could see that the fight he once had in him had sourly turned to a struggle.
With that, she heard a light tap at the door. Mandy quickly brushed away the tears that threatened to fall.
“Am I interrupting?”
His mother’s slim figure stood against the door frame.
Mandy admired her so much, even now, when her son was so sick, she dressed so elegantly. But it was more for Nick’s sake. She did not want him to know how hard this was affecting her. However, the dark circles around her eyes betrayed her. Her black hair was pinned back neatly in a bun and neutral coloured eyeshadow was dusted on her eyelids; her fitted skirt came just below her knee and was matched with a waist-length coat.
“Of course not, Kate,” Mandy answered.
She stepped into the room, her heels clicking against the tiles. She kissed her son and sat at the edge of the bed.
“You can go home, Mandy, love. You have been here all day.”
Mandy looked at her watch; she was surprised at how fast the time had gone. Usually, her time in the hospital passed extremely slowly.
“Yeah, babe, you can go home,” Nick added.
“Nick, I’m fine,” she pressed, throwing him a warning glance. She should have known he wasn’t about to give up.
“Seriously, Mandy, I love you but go home. Please.”
“Are you sure?” she asked, swallowing the fearful lump growing in her throat. She hated leaving him. Anything could happen while she was gone.
“Your eyes are going to fall out, Mand. Go home and have a rest!”
“OK, but I will be back in the morning.”
She stood up from the chair and could feel her legs throbbing as the blood rushed through her veins. She leaned over and kissed him softly on the lips; the loose strands of her caramel coloured hair falling onto his face. She hugged his mother and headed for the door.
“I love you,” he called after her before she walked out.
“I love you too,” she winked.
She walked down the white corridor, having to tell herself that he was going to be fine just to get herself to put one foot in front of the other and walk away.
Now that she thought of it, her eyelids suddenly became heavy and her legs felt like steel.
The call of her name snapped her out of her trance.
“Hello, Miss Parker.”
She recognized the deep voice. She turned and saw the tall, refined man in a long white coat, a chart in his hand.
“Hello Doctor Richardson,” she said politely.
“How are you holding up, Mandy?” he questioned, a true concern in his voice.
“Oh, I am doing fine. Hanging in there.” She was lying; she felt like crumbling to pieces before him.
“I am just on my way to see, Nick. How did he seem to you today?”
“He is in good humour, but I worry he is just putting on a show for me. I can tell he is getting worse every day. I just want him to be honest with me.” She felt a lump in her throat but swallowed it before it had time to choke her.
“Well, he loves you very much. We tend to try and protect those we love most.”
“Cystic Fibrosis is a very aggressive illness. He is lucky to have survived this long, you know that. But he is top of the transplant list. All we can do now is cross our fingers.”
She knew all of this, he had been on the top of the transplant list for the past four months. Damn his rare blood type, she cursed to herself. And even if he did have the operation, she knew there was a chance that his body would not respond to the new lungs. She felt horrible having to wait for someone else to die so her boyfriend could have their organs. It didn’t seem fair.
But she refused to give up hope; if she did, she would be giving up on him too.
“Thanks, Doctor Richardson. You have been very good to Nick,” she said gratefully, placing a weak smile upon her full lips.
“I have been his Doctor since he was four, I am not about to give up on him now. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that kid sees you walk down the aisle someday.”
She knew that was wishful thinking. She had taught herself how to put up a barrier around getting her hopes up a long time ago.
“Thanks, Doc, but I better get going. My mom will think I am disowning her,” she laughed weakly.
“OK, Mandy. Drive safe.”
It took all of her power not to fall asleep at the wheel. She parked in front of her house, missing her mother’s car by about three inches. She dragged her legs to the porch and was relieved when her father opened the door before she had a chance to root through her bag for keys.
“Hey, sweetheart,” he chimed with a bright smile on his face.
“Hey dad,” was all she could manage to say. A conversation with her father would have to wait. All she wanted now was a hot shower and her bed.
But even her shower would have to wait until the morning. She was almost drifting off to sleep on her struggle up the stairs.
“Ouch,” she groaned with a loud thud, snapping out of her daze after her toe clipped off the edge of the top step, making her plunge to her knees. “Ugh, why do I always have to be the clumsy one?” she grunted to herself.
She walked into her room, kicked off her shoes, and flopped herself on the bed.
The street lights from outside shone in on her face, reflecting on her soft sallow skin. It was then, as the street lights dimmed she heard light knocks on the door.
Oh for the love of all that is holy, can a girl not get a few hours sleep in this place?
“Come in,” she sighed, not bothering to move.
Her older brother, Matt stood at the door. She could see his tall, strong build vaguely from the faint light that shone through her window. He had come home from college for a few weeks to be with her while she was dealing with Nick. Her mother was worried that she wouldn’t open up and thought that she would talk to her brother. She was right about the part that Matt was the only person she would speak to, but she was wrong about the part where she thought she would open up to him. Mandy just preferred to deal with things herself, in her own way and that meant keeping things inside until she got home at night, then she would cry until she tired herself out. Matt was good to her though, he never pushed her to talk to him. He would often just sit with her until her tears stopped, or until she would go to sleep without saying a word. That was one of the many reasons she loved her brother so much. He knew her so well, probably better than she knew herself.
He was about to switch on her bedroom lamp when she caught his hand.
“Don’t you dare, unless you want to be wearing the lampshade permanently,” she warned him, but he only smiled at her. Even in the darkness, she could see his smile turn sorrowful; he was going to ask about Nick.
“He is fine,” she yawned before he had a chance to say anything.
“I was going to ask how you were.”
“Tired,” she retorted.
“It’s OK. I am doing fine, honestly.”
“I’m worried about you. You are spending all of your time at the hospital. I know you love him and you want to be with him, but it’s not good for you. You are going to get sick if you keep on going the way you have been lately. You are not eating because you are constantly rushing everywhere, doing everything. You can’t be everywhere and be there for him too. It isn’t fair.”
She could hear his voice was soaked in worry. That was something she had been trying to avoid. Worrying everyone around her was on her list of things not to do.
“But I am doing fine,” she repeated.
“No, you are not, Mandy. Nick hates seeing you so tired and doing everything for him. Just ease off on yourself, please. If not for me, for Nick.”
But she wanted to do things for him. How long did she have before he wouldn’t be there to do things for?
“I am doing it to make him happy.”
“I know,” he rubbed her soft caramel hair, “but Nick needs you and only you. He appreciates all the things you are doing for him, but he only wants you. Do me a favour, go back to school on Monday, you haven’t been there since Nick went to the hospital,” he reminded her. “Occupy yourself. That hospital can’t be doing anything good for you.”
She knew he was right. If she wanted to go to college next year she would have to start focusing more on her school work. Her exam results had always been good, but that was before Nick deteriorated. She hated the thoughts of going back to school, eyes of sympathy and pity followed her everywhere she went. She did not want their stupid pity, she just wanted a normal life; one with Nick by her side. Anger began to rise inside her, feeling the tears sting her eyes.
“OK. OK. I’ll go back. But I swear if one of them looks at me as if my whole world is about to fall apart,” Which it is, she reminded herself, “I will not be responsible for my actions.” She heard him laugh in the darkness.
“OK, sis, I will stand by you in the courtroom,” he joked.
“Haha, very funny Matt. Now get out and let me get some sleep.”
The light from outside disappeared as he closed her blinds.
“Night, sis,” she heard him say, but he sounded miles away. She had already succumbed to a darkness of her own - her sleep.