Stacie smiled when Jessica entered her room with her baby.
“Hi sweetheart, how are you feeling today?” Jessie asked eagerly.
“I’m getting better; how’s my favorite nephew in the world doing?”
“He’s good….he’s happy to see you too.”
“Bring him to me…. I want to hold him.”
“Are you allowed to do that? He’s kind of heavy, you know.”
“I can see that; come on, I’m stronger now. I want a peck from him; who knows, a baby’s kiss might make me heal faster.” Jessica laughed.
“Sure…” She brought the baby close to her. Stacie kissed him on the cheek and the baby held her cheeks. She giggled.
“I’m happy to see you too, sweetheart. You came alone?”
“Yes; Jason said he had to take care of something urgent at the office but he’ll be here.”
“Okay.” She kissed her nephew on the forehead and shook him. He giggled.
The door opened. They both turned their heads to see who it was. Susan stopped when she saw Jessica.
“Hi mum….” Stacie said.
“Hi…” She closed the door.
“Good day, Mrs. Archer.”
“Good day, Jessica; how are you doing?”
“I’m fine by God’s grace; you?”
“I’m getting there. I’ll be fine when Stacie is completely well and is discharged from the hospital.”
“And she will be, ma’am.”
“I’m already getting better. I’ll start therapy tomorrow,” Stacie announced.
“That’s good news!” Jessie exclaimed.
“Yes it is,” Susan said exasperatingly as she sat down.
“You look terrible, mum,” Stacie said.
“I know; I guess it’s the stress of being in this hospital. I’m just tired.”
“Then you should have some rest, mum. Betty and George keep me company most of the time.”
“I know but I am your mother and I need to be by your side all the time.”
“I’m surprised to see this loving side of you, Susan,” Jessie commented.
Susan glanced at her. “I’m a mother, Jessica; you should be able to understand that.”
“Sure of course.”
“I feel unusually tired today,” Susan said as she touched her forehead.
Stacie and Jessie exchanged a worried glance.
“Since we are at the hospital, why don’t you just go for a quick check up, mum?” Stacie suggested.
“No; I’ll be fine. I just have to rest and I will do that. Don’t worry about me.” She held her daughter’s hand. Stacie smiled. “If you say so, mum.”
The next day, Betty and George were with Stacie as she did her therapy. They cheered her on as she tried to walk.
“You did it, Stacie! You’ll be perfect again in a few weeks!” Betty said excitedly.
“Of course, dear!” Stacie grinned triumphantly. The door opened and Susan entered.
“Mum! I did it, mum! I’ll be out of here soon!!!” Stacie said excitedly.
“I’m glad to see that, dear. And thank you two for always sticking around,” Susan said.
“Don’t mention it, mum; we are her friends.”
“Of course you are…” Susan touched her forehead.
“Mum, are you okay?”
“Yes I am; don’t wor…” Susan blacked out.
“Mum!” George and Betty rushed to her.
“I think we should call the doctor,” George suggested.
“So hurry up about it!” Stacie shouted. George rushed outside.
“Mum, can you hear me?” Stacie asked as she touched her mother’s face.
“I’m just it’s the stress; she’ll be fine, Stacie.”
“I hope so.” Two nurses came in with a stretcher. George entered. They put Susan on it and rushed her away.
“Where are they taking her?” Stacie asked anxiously.
“I think they are headed towards the ER. Let’s get you to your bed now,” George said.
“No; I want to know what’s going on with my mother.”
“And you will but you need to calm down. You’re not completely well, you know that.”
“How do you expect me to calm down when I’ve no idea what’s happening to my mother? Take me to the doctor immediately!” George and Betty looked at each other.
Stacie sat on the wheelchair nearby.
“What are you two standing there for? Move it!” George pushed her out into the hallway with Betty alongside. The three friends waited in the doctor’s office for some time.
“What is going on? Where is the doctor?” Stacie asked impatiently.
“I’m sure they are still working on your mother. Calm down, he’ll be here soon.”
“Calm down? How can I calm down? It seems the hospital and I constitute a dangerous recipe for disaster. The first time I was admitted here, my daddy died here and now, my mum has fainted. Isn’t that a good reason to be scared?”
“You shouldn’t entertain such dark thoughts, sweetie. Nothing is going to happen to your mother, okay?” Betty assured her friend.
“I want to believe that, Betty; believe me I do.” The door opened and the doctor entered.
“I’m sorry for keeping you waiting, guys. I know you’re all at your wits’ end.” He sat.
He sighed. He looked into Stacie’s eyes which were full of anxiety.
“Stacie…I don’t know if I should tell you considering your present condition…”
“Please skip that part, doctor. Just get right to it.” The doctor glanced at her two other friends whose faces also revealed nothing but fear and apprehension.
“Well, I’m sorry but your mother too has to be admitted here.”
“Why, is she sick?”
“It’s the stress, right?” Betty asked. The doctor glanced at their terrified faces.
“I’m afraid it’s more than that.”
“What is it?”
“I believe we should call Jason; then I’d tell you all together.”
“No doctor; you can’t keep me waiting here for almost an hour and then ask me to wait for God knows how long before my brother gets me. Whatever it is, just spill it out.”
“Well, whatever it is, you wouldn’t be able to help her so I think we should wait for your brother to get here.”
“Stop it doctor; I don’t like being put in suspense like this. My mother swooned right in front of me and you’re here playing the dodge game. If you have any sense of sensitivity in you, you’d tell me what is wrong with my mother,” Stacie said, getting infuriated.
“I think you should just let it out, doctor,” Betty added. The doctor sighed as he leaned back in his chair.
“All right; your mother appears to have some kind of growth…”
“Tumor? My mother has a tumor?” Stacie asked, her heart beating faster.
“I’m afraid yes; it’s located in her brain.” Stacie’s hand started trembling. The doctor noticed it.
“Are you okay?” He asked cautiously.
“Yes…yes….and what are you going to do about it? You’re going to remove it, right? You can remove it, right?”
The doctor sighed again.
“The tumor is benign, right doctor?” George asked. He glanced at the guy.
He shook his head. “No, it’s not; it’s malignant.”
“Oh no,” George muttered.
“What does that mean?” Betty asked, confused.
“It means it’s dangerous and progressive….but you can take it out, right?” Stacie asked, looking into the doctor’s eyes hopefully.
“I’m afraid it’s an inoperable tumor.”
“What do you mean, inoperable? What the hell are tumors for? To be removed for crying out loud!” Stacie cried out.
“Calm down….it’s located at a very delicate part of the brain and trying to extract it would lead to fatal consequences.”
“You mean she could die.”
“Worst scenario, yes.” Stacie began drumming her nails on the desk. Tears started to form in her eyes.
“Okay…and what happens if you don’t operate?” Betty asked after a minute-long of awkward silence. Stacie looked at the doctor. The doctor only stared at their faces.
“She dies anyway,” Stacie answered, the tears running down her cheeks.
“No…are you saying there’s no way out here?” Betty asked, getting up.
“But that’s unacceptable!”
“I know it’s hard to accept but….” Stacie began convulsing.
“Stacie!” George rushed to her.
“Tell the nurses to bring in a stretcher immediately!” He told Betty. She rushed outside.
The doctor came out of her room looking exhausted.
“Is she all right?” Betty asked.
“At the mean time…but I have to say this….this incident could have nullified her recovery progress so far. I’ve called Jason and he’s on his way. You two sit tight, okay?”
“Okay, doctor.” He walked away.
“What are we going to do, George?” Betty asked, about to cry. He hugged her.
“Things will turn out fine. You just have to believe that.”
“I can’t believe this! I’m just absent for a few hours and I come back and find both my sister and mother in critical conditions? You know very well that Stacie isn’t quite stable yet. Why did you have to break such sensitive news to her?” Jason asked in a tone of utmost despair.
“I know that but she insisted, Jason. I wanted to hold her off but her two friends also pressured me to let it out. There’s nothing I could have done to hold her off.”
“This can’t be happening. I can’t lose my whole family like this, doctor. I’m prepared to lose my sister and definitely not my mother because if anything happens to my mother, my sister will fall apart and I can’t have that. I won’t allow you to take my family away from me.”
“You know that is not my intention, Jason…”
“I don’t care what your intentions are, doctor! My father died on your watch and now both my mother and sister’s lives are hanging on a thread so if you love your job, you’d do anything to save their lives or else….”
“It hasn’t gotten to that, Jason,” the doctor said coolly.
“Well, make sure it doesn’t, because I won’t take it lightly if I lose my whole family on your watch in just one year,” Jason said threateningly and walked out of the office.
“How are you feeling now, mother?” Jason asked as he wrapped his hands on hers.
Susan gave him a weak smile.
“I’m feeling better now. How’s Stacie doing?” Jason sighed.
“What’s wrong? Did something happen to her?”
“Well, when the doctor told her what was going on with you, she kind of…”
“Kind of what?”
“She seized again.” Susan sighed in despair.
“This is all my fault.”
“No, it’s not, mum. It’s the doctor’s fault. He shouldn’t have told Stacie knowing her condition. He should have been smarter about it.”
“So how’s she now?”
“Well, she’s sleeping now but the doctor fears she might fall into a relapse.”
“Oh no, after being here all this while?”
“Yeah. Please stay for us, mother. We can’t bear to lose you too.”
Susan squeezed his hand. “You have to stay strong for your sister, Jason.”
“You’re not leaving us, mum; not just yet. Please for Stacie’s sake, don’t leave us.”
“I’ll try my best not to, Jason. I feel exhausted…”
“Okay, I’ll leave you to rest whiles I go and check up on Stacie, all right?”
“Okay, tell her I’m fine, okay?”
“Sure. Have a good rest, mum…” He said and kissed her forehead. He left her room.
Stacie opened her eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling. Flashes of what had happened earlier came back to memory. She blinked and tears filled her eyes. She turned her head and saw someone’s head near her thigh. She smiled when she realized it was her brother. She touched his head. He woke up.
“Hey….you are up. How are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling better; sorry for waking you up.”
‘Don’t worry…. I heard what happened and I got really scared.”
“I know… I’m sorry….so how’s mum now?”
“She’s okay….she’s resting now.”
“Okay….have you talked to the doctor? Isn’t there a way to take the tumor out?”
“Well, he said that could kill her.”
“So are we going to sit down and do nothing? It’s in her brain, Jason! It’s going to kill her. I wonder how come we’ve never known about this. There have never been any symptoms until recently. How come?”
“I’ve been thinking about that myself. You know ever since dad passed away, mum has been everywhere, running around so much that the last thing that would come to mind is her health. If we had noticed it earlier, I’m sure it wouldn’t be this dangerous.”
“But still Jason, we can take her anywhere in this world to get her treated. We just have to find the place,” Stacie insisted.
“If this hospital believes it’s impossible, I doubt we would find anywhere else which believes otherwise.” Stacie sighed.
“But don’t you worry about that now. You focus on getting better, okay?”
“I want to see her, Jason; please take me to her.”
“I can’t; you’re supposed to be in bed.”
“Please Jason…. I want to see mummy.”
“The doctor recommends that you stay in bed, darling. When you are better, I’ll take you to her, okay?”
The next day, Stacie was taken to her mother’s room.
“Hey sweetie, I’m glad to see you better today,” Susan said happily.
“So am I, mum. You really scared me when you blacked out.”
“I know…. I’m sorry. I guess being here at the hospital so long was finally getting to me,” Susan said with a forced smile.
“Mum….did you know….about the tumor?”
“Did you keep it a secret?”
“No….no…not at all; why would you think that? If I had known about it, I would have had it removed long time ago. I wouldn’t risk my life for nothing, you know that, Stacie.”
“Yes mum; please get well, okay?”
“Yes dear; I’ll do my best.”
Days later, they were both discharged and brought home.
“I can’t believe I’ve spent almost my entire holidays at the hospital,” Stacie whined.
“I’d call it a very eventful one, sweetie,” Jason said.
“Why don’t you invite Jessie over for dinner?” Jason and Stacie looked at each other.
“And may I ask why?”
“Well, I guess it’s about time your son got the needed attention he deserves, right? After all, he’s part of our family.”
“Thanks mum; it’s really heartwarming to hear that from you. I’ll call her up.”
“You do that whiles I go upstairs and take a nap.”
“Let me help you,” Stacie offered. She took Susan to her room and came back downstairs. Jason hung up his phone.
“Don’t you find it a bit strange that mum would ask you to tell Jessie to come over?” Stacie wondered aloud.
“Well, strange or not; I’m happy mum is finally going to accept my new family.”
“Is she doing this because…..she knows….she’s going to die?”
“Don’t say that, Stacie.”
“Let’s be real here, brother. Mum can’t stand Jessie. If she’s doing this…”
“Then it’s because she wants peace to finally prevail here and for us to be happy, Stacie. Please do not think anything weird beyond that. We are going to find a way to help mum feel better so don’t see her as someone with one leg already in her grave because she isn’t going anywhere!” Jason said and walked upstairs. Stacie sighed and sat on the couch.
“I also want to believe that, brother; believe me I do.”
“She does need it, Stacie because she will need you…” Her father’s words to her came back to her.
“I’ll be here for you, mummy,” she said quietly.