Lisa went to see her mother at the hospital. Annie Cooper seemed to be in a very good mood; being all chatty and excited. Lisa was happy to find her mother all cheerful.
“So how are you doing, my child? I know I’ve been talking about me since you got here. What’s going on with you?” Annie asked. Lisa smiled.
“I’m fine, mother. It has been pretty interesting. I almost got divorced…”
“What? What happened? You two had a quarrel? Did he cheat on you?” Annie asked, her voice getting lower; almost like a whisper.
“It is a long story, mum. But we’re fine now. And I’ve good news; you’re going to be a granny again, mum.”
“That’s great!” She touched her daughter’s tummy.
“Boy or girl?”
“We don’t know yet. And I really want you to be part of their lives; both Jeremy’s and this one. So please listen to what I’ve to tell you.” Annie’s face turned serious.
“When you got here, the doctors conducted some tests and they realized that there’s some growth in your brain nudging some parts causing you to behave the way you do sometimes…”
“And how do I behave sometimes?” Annie asked. Lisa sighed.
“It is hard to explain…it’s a bit off.”
“So what are the doctors saying?”
“They are recommending that this growth be taken out…”
“Surgery? Oh no, honey; they are not opening up my head!” Annie said, freaking out.
“Calm down, mum; it’s not a big deal. The doctors have assured me it is a simple procedure…”
“No Lisa; I won’t allow it. I rather stay with it.”
“Come on mother; it could kill you and I want you here with me and your grandchildren. Please think about us,” Lisa pleaded.
“You know I’m afraid of these things, dear. You can’t imagine the nightmares I have ever since I was brought here. Please let them release me so I can go back home.”
“They will willingly do so if you would have this surgery, mum.”
“No I won’t!”
“Mum please, you want to leave me here alone?”
“You have a family now, Liz. You must let me go so I can be with your father.”
“Mum, please don’t talk like this. It’s not very comforting.” Annie touched her face and wiped a stray tear with her thumb and gave her a weak smile.
“You’ll be fine, my dear.”
“No I won’t; and please don’t leave me…not yet…please mum,” Lisa begged, holding her mother’s arm tightly. Annie pulled her into a hug and rocked her.
“Cry it all out, baby…you’ve been through a lot…take it all out…”
Lisa sat outside quietly buried in her thoughts. The breeze did nothing to calm her nerves. Her fingernails drumming on the side of her seat kept to a fast rhythm. Ethan walked up behind her with a peacefully sleeping Jeremy on his bosom. She didn’t seem to notice. She only turned when she saw something shift at her side. Ethan had sat down next to her.
“Hey,” he said with a smile.
“Hey…he’s asleep already, huh?” she said as she rubbed her palm on Jer’s back.
“Yes he is.” After a moment of silence, he asked, “What’s on your mind?”
“Do your patients feel peaceful even in the light of death?” Lisa asked.
“Well, some do; they believe their time is up; they just come for the surgeries because their families wish for some more time.”
“And do such parents survive the surgeries?”
“Some do, some don’t. What is this about anyway?” She sighed.
“It’s my mum, Ethan. She doesn’t want to have the surgery. She says she wants to be with dad. And I want her here with me too. Am I selfish to want that?”
“Of course not, dear. It is only natural to have those you love around you.”
“So why doesn’t she want to stay here with me?”
“Of course she does; sometimes when people age and they see that all their hopes have been fulfilled, they feel at peace and so want to depart peacefully.”
Lisa turned fully towards him and held his hand.
“Please convince her to have this surgery, Ethan. She wouldn’t listen to me but maybe she would if it is coming from you.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“We’ll think about that when we get to that bridge. I’m not ready to let her go…not yet. Please Ethan, do this for me.”
“Sure, love. Anything for you.” He touched her face. She forced a smile.
“Thank you very much.”
Ethan entered Annie’s room to find her reading the Bible.
“Hi there,” she said cheerfully as she closed it.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your private time, Annie,” Ethan apologized.
“It’s all right. Have a seat. I do have a feeling this visit is going to include a long talk,” Annie said with a knowing smile.
“Thank you.” He sat on a chair next to her bed. He took her hand into his and covered it with the other hand.
“I know the surgical procedure scares you and perhaps you think it’s time for you to depart but I want you to please reconsider your decision. It is not a complicated procedure at all, I assure you. We’ll be in and out before you even notice. And you can have more time to spend with your grandchildren. I really want you in their lives…”
“You mean Lisa wants me,” Annie chipped in.
“Lisa’s wishes are my commands…whatever she wants is what I seek so please for her sake, have this surgery.”
“My son, I’m of old age, happy and fulfilled. Why won’t you leave me alone so I can go in peace?”
“Lisa isn’t ready for you to leave yet.”
“She has you; she will get over it.”
“If you don’t take this option, it is likely you’d suffer more accidents, Annie. This could be very painful and confusing for you.”
“I’ll be more careful next time,” Annie said confidently. Ethan sighed as he conceded and stared at her.
Three days later…
Mike entered Ethan’s office just as he was about to exit.
“Hey, what’s up, Mike?”
“Where are you off to?”
“Lisa’s mother’s surgery is today, remember? It will commence in the next 15 minutes.”
“You’re wanted at the Chief’s office.”
“What for? I’ll need to scrub in.”
“Yeah but do see the Chief.” They both left the office.
“Dr. Richards, I know you are the one who convinced Mrs. Cooper to have this surgery but I’m sorry to inform you that you can’t be the one to perform it.”
“What do you mean? I assured her I’d be the one to do it.”
“And that was good enough for her to agree to the procedure. But another doctor can take on this one.”
“One of your interns.”
“Interns? Are you kidding me? That is my mother-in-law we are talking about here not some woman found on the streets. I won’t allow any nervous or over-confident intern to touch her,” Ethan said heatedly.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Richards; I understand how concerned you are about this case but you need to step away.”
“Hospital protocol: no one operates on a family member.”
“Please Chief, my wife will never forgive me if something goes wrong and she finds out I wasn’t the one who operated on her mother.”
“That is why she wouldn’t know that. This is for your own good, doctor. Your personal relationship with her could make you nervous and blank all of a sudden and you could mess up in the O.R.”
“That would not happen.”
“And what if it does? Are you going to convince my wife not to divorce me this time?”
“I didn’t know you two were having problems…”
“That is not the point. Please let me do this. I’m perfectly calm and focused to do this.”
“I’m sorry, doctor. This is one of the rules I cannot bend for you,” the Chief said finally.
“Good day, Mrs. Cooper. I am Doctor Sanders. It is time for your surgery. Let’s take you to the O.R. and get you prepped up, shall we?”
“Where is Ethan, Ethan Richards?” Annie asked, alarm rising in her voice.
“He’s on his way, ma’am. Shall we?”
As the nurses wheeled her to the elevator, Annie asked again, “Where’s Ethan?”
“Calm down, ma’am. Ethan won’t be performing the surgery; he can only watch.”
“What? Oh no, I’m not having this surgery if he’s not the one performing it.”
“Please calm down, madam. Don’t get too excited. Everything will be fine. I’m as good as Doctor Richards…”
“Oh no…” Annie started to have a seizure.
“Take her into the room! Quick! Let’s not lose her!”
The elevator door opened and Lisa saw her seizing mother being rushed to the room.
“Mom?!” She ran to them but a nurse stopped her.
“Please wait here,” the nurse implored her. The door was closed.
“What happened? Where’s Ethan?”
“Mum…please don’t leave me,” she said as tears ran down her face. She watched in helplessness as they tried to stop the seizure and revive her heart.
“Mother…no….don’t…please don’t leave me…”
She screamed when she saw the doctor drop his shoulders in resignation.
“Time of death: 1:25p.m.”
Lisa barged into the room and put her arms around her mother, crying.
“Mummy please don’t leave me now. Please come back, please mother.”
“Leave me alone!” Lisa shouted at the doctor. He excused himself and left the room.
Lisa continued to hug her mother and cry uncontrollably.
As Mike approached the room, he heard someone crying.
“What’s going on here?” He turned to find Lisa crying with her head on her mother’s tummy. He noticed something else.
“Oh no…” He rushed inside and went to Lisa.
“Let her go, Lisa. She’s gone.”
“Let me be, Mike. This was supposed to be a simple procedure, you all said. And where the hell is Ethan?”
“You have to come with me, Lisa,” Mike insisted.
“No, I won’t!”
“You don’t have to lose your mother and child on the same day, Liz.” Lisa paused and glanced at Mike.
“You’re bleeding.” Lisa looked down at herself.
“Oh no,” she said, beginning to panic.
“It could be nothing. Let’s go and check you out.”
“But my mother….”
“She’ll be here. Cover her up, nurse. Get me a wheelchair.” A nurse brought one and helped Lisa sit on it. Mike wheeled her away.
Ethan met Dr. Sanders on his way to the O.R.
“What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to get started on Annie Cooper’s surgery?”
“I’m sorry, Dr. Richards but she didn’t make it to the O.R.”
Ethan’s heart missed a beat. “What did you just say?”
“She began to seize when she learnt that you wouldn’t be the one to perform the surgery.”
“What? And why would you tell her that? You could have told her that I was on my way.”
“I’m sorry; she was pretty insistent…I didn’t know…”
“So where’s the body now?”
“When I was leaving, your wife was in the room crying. I don’t know…”
“Lisa is here already? Oh no!” He began to run.
He met some nurses who informed him that Mike had wheeled her away. He rushed to his office. They met at the door.
“Yeah I know.it’s terrible.”
“How’s Lisa? I hear you wheeled her away. She didn’t pass out, did she?”
“No, she began bleeding so I had to rush her to see Dr. Kelly.”
“So how’s she now?”
“I had to check on some of my patients so I left her with the doctor.”
“Okay thanks, buddy; I’ll see you around,” Ethan said and headed towards Kelly’s office.
“Yes, she started to bleed and I’m sure it is due to the shock of the passing away of her mother, I’m told.”
“So is she going to be okay? What about the baby?”
“They are both fine. She needs to be here for a few hours so I can monitor her but all’s well.”
“Okay. Can I see her?”
“She’s asleep at the moment. You can come back in an hour.”
“Okay; thanks, doctor.”
“Don’t mention it, Dr. Richards.”
When Ethan returned after some time, Lisa was up on her bed, staring at nothing.
“Lisa?” He called out, bringing her out of her oblivious state. She turned to glance at him.
“Hey…” He sat by her and hugged her.
“Yeah I know…I’m so sorry…”
“Where were you, Ethan?”
“I was caught up in the Chief’s office.”
“And she died before getting into the O.R.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I almost lost our baby too.”
“I heard….Thank God that didn’t happen.”
“Jer will never get to see his granny again…”
“At least my folks are still around. We’ll get past things, Liz. I know it hurts like crazy but we’ll get through it.”
Lisa nodded as she continued sobbing.
At the cemetery, after everyone had left, Lisa stood in front her mother’s casket with Ethan holding her hand. Fresh tears rolled down her face as she put a white rose flower on it.
“You’re all I have left now, Ethan,” she said, her eyes fixed on the rose flower.
“I know,” he muttered.
“Promise you won’t leave me too.”
“Hey…” He pulled her into his arms.
“I’ll always be here…” He pulled away and held her face.
“Before your mother’s grave, I make this promise never to leave you for any other or hurt you in any other way…we’ll be together till death do us part,” he said solemnly.
“And I promise to be by your side and support you in any way I can…be who you want me to be…till death do us part,” Lisa pledged. He kissed her forehead and they hugged.
“Awww….good boy! Look, Jer finished up his meal!” Lisa said happily.
“Good for you; Kelly has a few more takes to go….” Ethan glanced at his cute daughter.
“Ready for another one?” Kelly shook her head.
“This one is very difficult.”
“Ha-ha…she gets that from me. The champ over here is very cooperative,” she said admiringly to Jeremy. She opened her palm and he gave her a smiley hi-five.
“He’s such a darling!” She pecked him.
“He gets that from me,” Ethan said. Lisa laughed.
“Hurry up with your food, Kelly…we’re running late!” Lisa said. Kelly scowled and hid her face against her father’s shoulder.
“Ugh…such a spoilt brat,” Lisa muttered.
“And she gets that from you,” Ethan said. Lisa threw a napkin at him.
“But you two love me too much, don’t you?” He kissed Kelly’s cheek.
“Come on Kelly…” Ethan coaxed.
In the night after Ethan had tucked the kids in, he came to the kitchen where Lisa sat on the table, waiting.
“Are they asleep yet?” Lisa asked.
“Jer seemed sleepy but Kelly, no. She wanted me to tell her 3 bedtime stories tonight, can you believe it?” Ethan said as he wrapped his arms around Lisa’s waist. They kissed.
“Kelly’s selfish when it comes to you…you dote on her a little too much, don’t you think?”
“Oh yeah, more than you do to Jeremy?”
“I don’t dote on him.”
“So what, you’re doing this as payback?”
“It’s working; isn’t it?” He said with a wink. Lisa smiled.
“Maybe it’s because whenever I look at him, I see the toddler version of you and I can’t help but wet his face with kisses!” Lisa said breathlessly.
“And when I look at Kelly, I see the only one who makes my heart beat with her smile…in a cuter version.” They both smiled and kissed.
“Dad?” They broke apart. They both turned. Ethan let go of Lisa and reached down and picked up Kelly.
“What’s wrong, Kelly? Can’t you sleep?” Ethan asked. Kelly shook her head, rubbing her eyes.
“Awww….what do you want me to do about that?”
“Sing for me.” Lisa rolled her eyes away.
“Sure, my love. I’ll be right back, honey.”
“Seriously? You’re neglecting me for her?” Lisa asked.
“My princess beckons; I can’t ignore her.”
“It is me you took to the altar not her!” Lisa glared at Kelly. Ethan laughed.
“I won’t take long. Kiss mum goodnight, Kelly.” The two locked gazes. Ethan brought her closer and they hugged. Lisa kissed her cheek.
“Goodnight, sweetie,” Lisa said with a motherly smile.
“Goodnight mommy.” Ethan took her upstairs. Lisa sighed.
One breezy afternoon just around sunset, Lisa sat outside her home holding Jeremy up on her thighs. She kissed his cheek noisily which made him giggle.
“You’re so handsome, my love just like your dad. Girls are going to swoon all over around you. I almost did when I first met your father. Shush, don’t tell him I said that, ok?” Lisa said playfully and kissed him again.
“You’re going to suffocate the poor boy, Lisa,” Ethan said as he walked in with Kelly his arms.
“And you are going to be her wheelchair for life.” Ethan laughed.
“She’s my princess, aren’t you, sweetheart?” Kelly nodded. Ethan sat beside his wife and placed Kelly on his lap. He sighed as he took Lisa’s glass and sipped some juice.
“I can’t believe I almost threw all this away,” Lisa said.
“What are you talking about?”
“I almost ended us…I can’t even imagine how my life would be right now if that had happened.”
“That’s good because it isn’t something you should worry your head about. You forgave me for my little sin and here we are; you gave me this beautiful gift of a daughter.” Lisa smiled as she looked at Kelly. Ethan took her hand in his and squeezed it affectionately.
“We are here and there are better days to come. If this was a novel, we would call this part the ‘happily-ever-after.’” Lisa chuckled.
“Yeah, our happily-ever-after.”
The End….Is it?