“Levi, sweetheart! Are you sure about this?” my mum asks me.
“Yes, mum, I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life”, I answer her.
I booked the first flight I could find to Boston. There was just one stop I needed to make first, I needed to see my mum, she had something with her that I needed before I left England.
The flight from Heathrow to Boston felt like it took centuries. My nerves made my leg spasms return and there wasn’t enough leg room between these seats for me to stretch or massage my leg.
I asked the flight attendant for a drink because it was the only thing that might calm me down. I’m anxious to see her, anxious to know how she feels, scared that she will be upset with me for coming. Maybe she really doesn’t want to see me? I can’t stop thinking about her surgery and all the risks involved. I should not have left; I should have known about this and been with her this whole time. I am so stupid! I’m never leaving her again!
She is going to be so disappointed when she sees me using my crutch, why did I skip PT? What is wrong with me? This plane needs to fly faster.
I sucked down two drinks before closing my eyes so I can try to take a nap before I freak out on this airplane.
Finally, my plane lands in Boston and I catch an Uber to the hospital Nate told me she is staying at.
I hate the smell and feel of hospitals. I don’t have any good memories about being in a hospital. The front lobby directs me to Charlotte’s room. She is on the fifth floor, room 514.
My head is spinning, and I feel as though I might faint. Worry is overwhelming me. I feel sick to my stomach knowing how sick Charlotte has been. I lean against the corner of the elevator in case I have the urge to collapse. I need her to be okay, I need her to be safe, and I need her to make it through the surgery.
The fifth floor looks like any other hospital wing. Plain walls, cold air, nurses, and machines everywhere. I am shaking uncontrollably on the inside; I’m so nervous to find out what will happen when I enter room 514. It’s a good thing I brought my crutch because I can’t control what my body is doing at the moment.
Her door is slightly open, so I slowly push it open a little more until I see her tiny body wrapped in covers, lying on the bed. She is facing the opposite way from me, thank goodness. She is wearing a pink beanie on her head covering her hair.
I walk into her room, my body still shaking, and she turns her head around to face me when she hears my crutch touch the floor.
“Levi! What are you doing here?“, her voice squeaks.
“I... I am here for you, my Love”, I stutter.
I’m stuck, standing near her door looking at her, waiting for her to get mad at me or something. I did not expect her to sit up and reach her arms out for me. I’m awestruck and my body doesn’t know how to move from this spot.
“It’s ok Levi! Come here!“, she says to me.
I lean my crutch against the wall and limp over to her. Her eyes look sad as she examines me. I reach her arms and she grasps hold of my hands with hers, pulling me to stand right in front of her.
" I’m sorry”, I look down and tell her.
She’s not yelling at me or scolding me for the way I am limping or upset that I came here unannounced. She feels me shaking of course and squeezes my hands in hers to calm me like she always has.
“I am sorry too Levi, I should have told you, I just was so excited for you and all of your accomplishments, I didn’t want you to worry about me”, she confesses.
Her skin is pale in color and cool to the touch, she doesn’t have her usual warm feeling. She has lost weight too, not like she ever had to, she was always so fit, now she looks tired and sick.
“I would have been here for you Charlotte, I would not have left, I will always be here for you”, I cup her face with my hands and rub my thumbs across her cheeks.
“I know, that’s why I talked you into going back, so you could be happy, so you could be home”, she says.
" I may have thought I had everything and that I was happy before my accident, but I was wrong. Only after meeting you did I realize I wasn’t truly happy there. England may be where I am from, but with you Charlotte is where I belong”, I pour my soul out to her and kiss her softly on her cool lips.
She slides over on the bed and motions for me to sit down next to her.
“You’ve been having terrible leg spasms, again haven’t you?“, she asks me, but I just look towards the floor not answering her.
I am here for her, not so she can ignore her own problems to try and comfort me, so I will ignore my pain the best I can for now.
" I am fine Charlotte, I’m not here so you can worry about me”, I mutter.
“Please lay down with me?“, she asks softly, and moves her fragile looking body towards the side of the bed to make room for me. I kick off my shoes and brace and climb in next to her. She takes my arms and wraps them around her body and intertwines her legs with mine. God, how I have missed snuggling with her.
I hold onto her tight, too scared to ever let her go again.
“Please tell me about your surgery you’re having in the morning?“, I nervously ask her.
“Well, the extensive treatments I’ve had over the last two weeks has shrunk my tumor enough that the surgeon feels he can remove it all”, she explains.
“So, you will be fine after? What are the risks?“, I didn’t want to ask but I need to know.
" I hope I will be fine after”, she chuckles a bit.
“And every surgery has risks, but seeing as though this is my brain, there are lots of risks like stroke, or bleeding, or ...”
“You might not make it”, I choke out, finishing her sentence for her.
“Or I might not make it through”, she sadly confirms.
I can feel my tears escaping and wrap my arms tighter around her.
“I am such an idiot, I should have realized what was going on, I should have been here for you”, I whisper while I bury my tear-stained face into her neck.
Charlotte releases my arms from her body so she can turn around to face me. We are both lying on our sides face to face. She brings her hand up and runs her fingers through my hair then wipes my tears away with her thumb.
" I have missed your handsome face and those mesmerizing eyes of yours”, she says, trying to cheer me up, but instead more tears start to flow.
" I don’t want to lose you Charlotte, ever!“, I tell her.
" You won’t lose me Levi, I promise! I love you!“, she says to me and presses her lips to mine.
That is all I needed to hear for me to do what I needed to do next.
“This is not what I had envisioned, but here we are”, I smile.
I climb off her bed and stand up mostly onto my right leg while pulling her up so she can sit on the bed in front of me. She gives me a puzzled look and I probably will not be able to get up again once I kneel, but I give it a go. I get down on one knee in front of her and pull out a small white box from my pocket and place it in her hand.
I am shaking again and begin to speak, “The day I met you, the day you walked into my room when I thought I had lost everything, there was something there between us. I didn’t know it was love then, but you never left my side, you pulled me out of the darkness and gave me hope. Falling in love was not part of the plan, but when you held my hand, I knew I belonged and that I was loved. It only took one look into your beautiful eyes to know that I was home, one gentle kiss from your soft lips to wash all my sorrows away. You have my whole heart Charlotte. I would give up anything in the world for you and would do anything to keep you safe. I love you”.
Phew! I am glad I did not mess up that mouthful. I am still shaking though, hoping she feels the same way I do. She looks at the small box then looks up at me and slowly opens it. Tears now flowing from her eyes.
“Will you be my wife and let me love you for the rest of my life, Charlotte Thomas?“, I ask her.
She takes the diamond ring out of the box and feels it with her fingers. Silence takes over the room as she beams at the ring.
" The ring is beautiful, elegant and different! Where did you get it?“, she asks.
“This is my grandmother’s ring, she wanted me to give it to the person who I was sure to spend the rest of my life with”, I tell her.
She gives me a puzzled look again, and I think I know what she’s thinking but she refrains from asking me. I guess deep down I was unsure Emma was really the one when I proposed to her, so I didn’t give her this ring. Plus, Emma wanted a bigger, fancier, newer diamond on her finger. I knew Charlotte would love this ring, it represents an everlasting love, like her.
“What if I don’t make it through the surgery, or what if something goes wrong and I end up blind or worse?“, she asks, still focusing on the ring she is holding.
I take the ring and hold her left hand while I slide it onto her ring finger.
" I will love you and want you as my wife no matter what... and you will make it through the surgery”, I say and then pull her close so I can kiss her.
She cups my face and feverishly kisses me back.
“Is that a yes?“, I ask her before locking lips again.
“Yes”, she breathes.
I use my arms to lift myself back up onto my right leg and pivot myself back onto her bed, trying to avoid any pressure that would cause pain in my left leg.
“Under one condition”, she surprisingly says to me.
“What is that?” I ask.
" That you continue your daily PT so we can get you back to walking pain and spasm free”, she states.
I kiss her cheek, ” Just being here with you, my leg already feels better”, I smile.
We lay back down and snuggle ourselves tightly around each other. This time I brush my fingers along her cheek and then her arm and hug her again and kiss her neck.
" I’m scared for tomorrow”, I shyly confess to her.
" I am too”, she says back.
The night does not last long. I held her all night in my arms, hoping she was able to get some sleep in between nurses coming in to take her vitals. I stayed awake feeling worried for what is to come. I know she worried too so I kept my body close to hers to comfort her.
Morning arrived and I made sure I was up before the doctor came in. I attach my brace and put on my shoes. For the first time in over a year, I do not feel self-conscious about wearing this damn brace. If it is something I need to wear the rest of my life, if my left leg is never fully functional ever again, so be it! As long as Charlotte is safe and healthy again, I will be happy, and I will make sure she is happy too.
“We are ready for you Miss Thomas”, the tall slender guy in scrubs says when he walks into the room with a wheelchair, waiting to take her away from me.
Charlotte’s parents arrived moments earlier to wish her luck and to wait with me.
I help her into the wheelchair and kiss her lips again. “I love you and I will be right here waiting for you when you wake up”, I assure her.
" I love you too, and don’t worry, I will be fine”, she smiles.
“Please take good care of my fiancé!” I direct towards the man in scrubs as he wheels her away.
Charlotte’s parents and I look at each other, we all have the same worrisome expressions on our faces.
She better be alright!
This is going to be the longest day of my life.