To Have Loved...

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Being Discharged

The weekend went too fast and before I know it my alarm was blaring bright and early Monday morning. I turned it off and crawled out of bed to begin my day. I showered, got dressed, brushed my teeth and hair and headed to the kitchen for a quick breakfast.

I arrived at work a few minutes early, so I settled in my office and took a moment to ready myself for the new week. I checked my emails and voice mails and made my ‘to-do’ list before our morning meeting.

The day moved along pretty quickly, even though I couldn’t help but think about Ian throughout the day. I knew I wanted to stop in to see him, but I decided to wait until my shift was over and go on my own time.

Knock, knock…

“Come in,” I heard Ian reply to my knock.

I entered the room, “Hi Ian, I hope it’s OK if I stop by.”

“Of course,” he said with a smile. “You are always welcome. So what do I owe this visit to?”

“Nothing in particular; I just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I’m doing the best I can, I guess,” he shrugged his shoulders. “It’s a bit boring here, but those therapists sure keep me busy during the day.”

“I’m sure they do,” I smirked. “It’s kind of their job to keep you on your toes, so to speak,” I continued with a large grin.

“Very funny Sarah,” he said with a straight face. I couldn’t stop myself and started laughing and he eventually joined in.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…” I tried to apologize for laughing at his expense.

“Yes you did, but that’s OK,” he said with a smile. God, it was good to see that smile again. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until now.

“I miss that sound,” Ian whispered as he looked away from me and out the window.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Uh, nothing,” he replied looking back at me.

“Ian, can I ask you a question?” He nodded. “When I first saw you here I asked about Olivia and you said she was still in St. Paul. Why?”

“Because I left her there,” he started. I was about to ask another question, but he continued. “I broke things off with her Sarah. I should have done so a long time ago.” He turned away from me again after admitting that.

“Oh,” was all I could say. After clearing my throat, I asked him another question, “What are you going to do when you get out of here?”

“Well, I was going home and wanted to see if I could join the force in New Salem or here in Bismarck if they had any openings. I realized I missed living in a small town and wanted to get back to my roots,” he said, “and back to you,” I heard him mumble at the end.

“I’m sure they have something and I’m sure your parents will be glad to have you back home. I know they missed you Ian.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not like I can join any time soon. It’ll be at least six weeks or longer to get these casts off and then to regain my strength and stamina back.”

“It won’t hurt to at least apply.”

“Yeah, I guess,” he said with a sigh. “I’m also thinking about joining my dad in the volunteer fire department when I can.”

“I know you always wanted to do that, and I think they would be glad to have you join. I know they lost of lot of men recently to retirement, so it’d be nice to have the next generation join up.”

“I think so too,” he replied with that amazing smile.

“Well, you will do great in whichever job you choose Ian. Who knows, maybe you could become a detective with the criminal justice degree and your experience from the academy. Or even a desk job to start until you get back on your feet,” I said.

“Oooh, that sounds so fun,” he said sarcastically.

“At least it’s something to start with,” I said with a small smile.

“You are right, as always,” he said with a grin.

“Of course I am,” I replied. “I have to get going, but if I can, I’ll stop by tomorrow, if you’re still here.”

“I’m sure I will be. Doc said he’d like to me stay through this week to get some more rehab and monitor some of the wounds and my neck. Maybe get to go home over the weekend and then come back outpatient.”

“Then I expect to see you in group on Friday,” I said.

“I’ll be there. You know I still love to hear you sing, so I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

I blushed a little at his response and shook my head. “See you soon,” I said before I turned and headed out of his room.

“See you,” I heard him say as I left the room.

I headed out to my car and drove home. I couldn’t stop thinking about my conversation with Ian and kept replaying it over and over, especially the part where he said he ended things with Olivia, not to mention the couple things he mumbled not thinking I heard him.

I kept myself busy once I got home because I knew I would drive myself crazy with my thoughts. It was so good to see him again and talk to him like I did tonight, but I couldn’t let myself get caught up in this, no matter how many feelings I still have for him.

The rest of the week passed by in a blur; as I was kept very busy through the hospital. I liked being busy for a few reasons: one-it made the time go faster; two-I knew the program was a success and was glad to see it grow; and three-I knew the positive impact I made on the people I worked with.

On Friday morning, I headed to the rehab unit for my weekly group. There were about eight people in the room when I arrived, with only half of them in a previous session. I greeted everyone and introduced myself to the new members.

We did our movement exercises and moved on to the music selection part of the session. My age group today was from early 20s to 50s, so we sang or listened to a variety of songs, but it was wonderful seeing the different generations discussing the songs together.

When I got to Ian to choose a song, he looked me straight in the eye and asked for “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait. I looked back at him in disbelief and shock. That was our song back in high school, I honestly haven’t listened to it much since then.

After recovering, I agreed to sing it with the group and then proceeded to ask him why he chose the song and what it meant to him.

“I chose the song because it reminds me of someone I was close to in the past and I’ve been thinking a lot about her recently. I guess I wanted to recall some of those memories we shared,” he said still looking at me.

“Did hearing it help you?” I asked. His response really hit me and I had a hard time continuing the session for a few moments.

“Yeah, it did. Thank you for singing it,” he said.

“You’re welcome and I’m glad it helped,” I said with a half smile. “Is there anyone else that wishes to choose another song today?”

We sang a few more songs before ending with our final movement exercise and ending the session. Everyone left the room as I was cleaning up except for Ian, again.

“So I wanted to let you know that I’m going home later today,” I heard Ian say behind me. I turned around to face him and he was staring back at me.

“That’s good,” I said.

“I have to be back for therapy, so I’m actually moving to an apartment here in Bismarck.”

“Really? Are your parents going to stay with you to help you out at all?”

“No. They are going to help me get it set up, but I’ll be fine on my own.”

“I wish you the best of luck and I’m sure I’ll see you around since my office is near the rehab gym.”

“Sarah…thank you for singing our song today.”

I gasped at hearing him calling it our song. “I…um…you’re welcome,” I stuttered out. “I really would like to stay and talk, but I really have to get going Ian. I have another session in a few moments.” I needed to get out of here quickly before he could hear my heart beat racing.

“Yeah, OK. See you around,” he said looking down.

“See you around,” I repeated before grabbing my cart and leaving the unit.

I found an empty room after leaving the unit and stepped inside for a few moments to regain my composure and process everything that had happened in the last half hour. “What is going on right now? How can he say the things he did in there and not expect me to react? Is he telling me he wants to get back together with me?” My mind was racing and my thoughts were all over the place.

I took a few deep breaths before leaving my hiding place and continuing on with my day. It was difficult to say the least, but I made it to the end of day and headed home.

When I got home, I called up Stacy. I had to talk to someone about what happened today and I know she will know what to say, she always does.

“Hello Sarah,” Stacy said answering the phone.

“Hey Stace,” I said.

“Is everything alright?” she asked me.

“Yeah, it’s great.”

“So what can I help you with?” she asked me.

“Who says I need help with something?” I asked back.

“Um Sarah, you have this tone to your voice that something is on your mind, so I’m assuming you are calling me for a reason,” she chuckled over the phone.

“Can a girl just call up her big sister to say ‘hi’?”

“Sarah…of course you can, but is that all you really want to say?”

We may not have spent our entire lives together, but I guess her big sister powers were never lost as she can read me like a book.

“You’re right Stacy, I’m calling because I need some advice and I’m hoping you can help me out,” I said to her.

“Well, tell me what is bothering you and I’ll see what I can do,” she said.

“Ian is back and he has been saying some things that make me question my heart and I don’t know what to think or do,” I told her.

“What is he saying?” she asked.

“I am not supposed to say anything, but Ian was in an accident coming back to his parents nearly a couple weeks ago and has been in rehab where I work. We have talked a few times and he keeps mumbling things that make me think he still has feelings for me and then today…” I paused. “Today he asked me to sing our song from high school during a session and he told the group that it reminded him of someone he cared about in the past and is thinking a lot about right now.”

“Have you sat down and talked with him about your past or current feelings?”

“No, I can’t Stacy. He was a patient and I tried to keep things professional between us. Now he discharged and went to his parents for a few days, but is planning on moving to Bismarck soon to be closer to continue therapy and to get a job.”

“Well then, maybe you two can get together to just talk about things,” she suggested.

“Do you think that will help? Stacy, I still have feelings for him and I don’t believe I ever stopped loving him. If he doesn’t feel the same way, I can’t go through that heartbreak again.”

“Sarah, I can’t make the decision for you, but you won’t know if you don’t ask him and talk to him about it. I know that’s probably not what you want to hear, but it’s the only advice I can give you right now.”

“I know you’re right Stacy. I guess talking to him wouldn’t hurt.” I sighed into the phone.

“I have faith in you Sarah and I know you will do what is best for you. You know I’m here for you, so please call me anytime, but I do need to let you go as I’m being called by Haley right now,” she chuckled a little.

“Thank you Stace. Give the girls a hug and kiss from me.”

“I will do. Love you Sarah.”

“Love you, too. Bye for now.”

“Bye,” she said before hanging up.

I sat back on the couch and closed my eyes. I’m not sure if that helped me or not, but it was good to talk to her again.

******

A couple of weeks went by with my old routine coming back to me. It definitely was easier doing my work without having Ian in the same building as me. I did see him a couple of times while he was in the gym, but we didn’t get any time to talk.

It was Saturday morning when I was woken by a loud noise outside. I looked out and saw a couple of trucks unloading furniture and boxes out in front of the apartment complex I live in. I groaned and was about to shut the curtains to go back to bed when I saw him.

Ian came around one of the trucks, using a crutch, to guide who I now recognized as some of his old friends from school in where to take him belongings. I then saw his parents pull in with their car.

“This is just great; of all the places in this city, he moves into the same building as me.” I thought to myself before dropping my head back on the pillow.

I couldn’t fall back to sleep, because things went from bad to worse when I heard them moving furniture outside my apartment door. He is freaking moving to an open apartment on my floor and the only one I am aware of is right next door.

I got dressed quickly and opened my door to come face to face with an old friend named Craig.

“Hey Sarah, what are you doing here?” he said when he recognized me.

“I live here,” I replied annoyed. “Why are you making so much noise this early in the morning?”

“We are helping your boy Ian move in next door.” I scowled at him after making the comment he did. “It is kind of funny if you think about it…what are the odds of him finding an empty apartment right next door to his ex-girlfriend?”

“Yeah, what are the odds?” I asked as I saw Ian hobbling down the hall from the elevator. He caught my eye with a smirk and I had a strong feeling he knew exactly what he was doing. His parents knew where I lived, so I’m sure they had a hand is this.

“Sarah sweetie, how are you?” his mother, Emily, said as she came up behind Ian and came over and gave me a hug.

“I was sleeping up until a few minutes ago,” I said.

“I told them to keep it down since it was early and I’m sure there are others that weren’t up yet,” she replied with a small laugh.

“Ian, did you know I lived here when you took this apartment?” I came straight out and asked him.

He looked down for a minute and I knew he did. “Mom told me where you lived when I asked and when I called to see if there was anything available they told me about this apartment. I didn’t realize it was right next door until I saw you standing there.”

I looked over at Emily and she gave me a weak smile and mouthed ‘I’m sorry.’ I shook my head slightly and shrugged my shoulders showing her ‘it is what it is’ and nothing can be changed now.

“I’m going back inside, but please take it easy. I’m sure you aren’t supposed to be hauling things around right now,” I said.

“That’s why I have the help,” he chuckled. “You remember the guys, right?”

“Yes, I remember them. I’ve been home more often than you and still see some of them from time to time,” I said to make him feel a little guilty.

“Yeah right,” he said.

“Have a good day boys, but please keep it down.”

“Bye Sarah…Sorry…See you around,” they responded all talking at once.

I went back inside and closed my door. I leaned against it and placed my head on the door and sighed. “How am I supposed to live this close to the man I still love, but can’t have?” I thought to myself. “Why would he do this and what does it mean?” my thoughts continued.

I heard my phone ringing and went to my bedroom to answer it after seeing it my mother.

“Hey Mom,” I answered.

“Hey sweetie, how are you doing this morning?”

“I’m fine,” I responded still sounding annoyed.

“So I’m guessing you heard the news by now?”

“What news Mom?”

“That Ian is moving closer to you,” she said hesitantly.

“You knew?”

“Emily and I still talk once in a while and she told me that he was planning on moving to Bismarck and then found a place in the same complex as you.”

“Not just the same complex Mom. He’s literally right next door,” I said.

“You’re kidding, right?” I shook my head, but remembered she can’t see me.

“No Mom, I’m not kidding.”

“Remember honey, fate works in mysterious ways. You told me when you two went separate ways, that if it was really meant to be between you, that you’ll find each other again. Well, I don’t think you can get any closer than this,” I heard her laugh through the phone.

“I guess not,” I said with a small chuckle. “We’ll see Mom, but I’m not keeping my hopes up.”

“I know sweetie, but keep an open mind. I know how you still feel about him, but I want you to be happy no matter what. I love you.”

“Love you too Mom. Bye,” I said before hanging up the phone.

I thought about my Mom’s words the rest of the day. Maybe this is fate’s work; after all he ended up in my hospital and then right next door to me, literally. I guess we can always start with be friends again.

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