28 - Parting Ways
James clicked on the video dated October 24, 2017.
It was taken in the hospital on the day their son was born through cesarean section on his 39th week in gestation. Rina took the video of James holding the newly bathed and swaddled baby boy in his arms.
He stared at his tiny pinkish white face with long thick lashes, button nose, full lips, round cheeks and a cleft chin. The little baby yawned and puckered his lips. James immediately spotted the deep dimples on his cheeks as he did so. He was such a handsome baby.
"Hello, son." He whispered.
He wiped the silent tears that fell from his eyes and snugly held his son. "Come on, little buddy. Let's go see Mama." He smiled.
They walked a few feet from the Nursery to the Maternity Suite. Dan opened the door for them and excitedly gushed over his little nephew who was then fast asleep. Ted and Ann quietly raced to where they stood and shushed the overly enthusiastic uncle who was close to biting the little one's nose.
"Gosh this kid! That's a real baby, not a doll. Stay away from him. Go." Ann reprimanded in a hushed tone.
Ted shook his head and smiled as he watched his wife drag their son away then looked at the sleeping baby. "Are you excited to see Mama, little one?" Ted whispered to his grandson as he gently stroked his soft cheek then turned to James.
"Is she still the same?" James asked his in-laws.
Shine’s parents nodded and each gave him an encouraging pat on the back.
He took a deep breath and continued to enter the suite which was filled with flowers and balloons and fruit baskets. There was a blue and yellow cake on a table in the sitting area that says "Happy Birthday, Baby Boy."
"Wow. Look at that, buddy. That's all for you. Happy Birthday, son." James whispered to their sleeping baby.
He softly rubbed the tip of his nose on the child's cheek, closed his eyes and sighed. "If only your Mama could see all these. She would have been really excited."
Then with a deep sigh, he turned to face her hospital bed. It was as he was told. She still laid there, unconscious with an oxygen mask over her mouth and nose and IV lines in her arm. Her chocolate brown hair was neatly tucked behind her ear and her thick lashes cast a fan-like shadow over her cheeks.
James walked to the side of her bed where a single chair waited and her arm was free from tubes. He sat down, held their baby in one arm and took her hand. He gently kissed the back of her hand and raised it to his cheek so he could feel its silky olive skin on his.
"My love..." He paused as he blinked back his tears and swallowed the painful lump in his throat. He smiled and tried to speak in the cheeriest voice he could come up with at the moment. He knew she could still hear him. He just knew she could. "My Sunshine, look who I brought with me. It's our little Mallow. You know what, love? He's such a good baby. He has only cried twice since he was born this morning. First, when he got hungry. I know you would have wanted to breastfeed him but... Anyway... Just rest here, my love. Don't worry about our baby. I know you worked so hard carrying him in your belly all those months and bringing him out into the world today. Let me take care of him for now. You can get your turn when you wake up." He said as he took a breath and kissed her palm.
When you wake up... He has been telling her that since she slipped into a coma two months ago.
When you wake up, we'll travel to any place you want…
When you wake up, I will cook your favorite ramen…
When you wake up, I'll buy all the prosciutto and cheese that you want to eat…
When you wake up, we'll dance in the rain…
When you wake up, we'll watch every sunrise and sunset together…
When you wake up, we'll set fireworks to light the sky over our beach…
When you wake up, I hold you tight and kiss you and tell you every moment that I can that I love you with all of my heart and soul.
It was a normal day. They had their usual breakfast on the porch then watched movies on his laptop as they cuddled on the couch until midday. He cooked her favorite milk fish in sour stew for lunch then tucked her in for her afternoon nap. She asked if he could stay with him instead of doing his afternoon chores around the house and he did. He wrapped her in his arms and let her sleep on his chest as he combed his fingers through her hair and she listened to how his heartbeat echoed her own.
"Love, thank you for always taking care of me and little mallows. Don't get tired of us, okay?" She said drowsily.
He smiled and kissed her forehead. "Never. I will never get tired of taking care of you. Do you know why?"
"Because you love me?"
"Because I drink milk everyday for strong bones and muscles." He grinned then she bit his chest through his shirt and made him yelp in pain.
"So that's how it is. You don't love me." She pouted.
"Who says I don't love? I love you very very very very very very very very much. I can never say how much." He said as he squeezed her closer.
She sighed contentedly, closed her eyes and snuggled on his chest. "Good. Because I also love you very very ve… ry… much..." She slurred as she drifted off to sleep. He held her snugly until he dozed off too.
When he woke up at sunset, he tried to wake her so they could watch it together by the beach but she did not respond.
He tried again and again until he started to panic. She did not move or make a sound and her pulse was weak. He rushed her to the hospital and she has been sleeping ever since.
The doctors waited for the baby to reach full term and his ideal weight and health before delivering him through C-section.
James never left his wife’s side. He talked to her and prayed and waited. Each day she was still in her coma made it difficult to hope. Each moment she was not awake made him start to question God but he did not let his doubts win.
He still prayed.
He prayed harder and hoped until his faith was renewed with every sunrise.
He knew it can't be that way. That could not be the end. They will not be parting ways anytime soon because his wife will wake up, with her bright smile and sunshiny optimism and everything will be perfect again.
"The... The second time he cried was when he pooped for the first time. It's a good thing he was still in the nursery then. I didn't have to clean that up yet." He chuckled although tears glinted in the corners of his eyes. "He's such... He's really such a good baby, my love. And he's waiting for you. He's only just been out of your womb for a few hours but I know that he really misses his Mama. My Sunshine, he's waiting for you to hold him so he can listen to your heartbeat again and feel the warmth of your arms. Love, he misses your voice so please… please… for our little baby. Come back to us, okay?"
With that, he let out a stifled sob and let his tears flow as he laid Shine’s hand on their baby's chest.
"Sol, son, this is your Mama." James smiled as he wiped his tears.
The warmth of Sol's skin and the rapid beating of his heart pulsed against Shine’s motionless palm and coursed through her nerves.
Much to James's delight and astonishment, she moved her fingers for the first time in months. He looked up at her face and saw her eyelids slowly flutter. Then in one heart-stopping minute, she opened her eyes and whispered.