The doctor had a serious look on his face as he showed me to a chair. His eyes were kind as he said, “Your fiancé has suffered a significant amount of blood loss, ma’am. Right now, we’re trying to get him stabilized before we operate.”
I choked back my tears as I asked, “What are his chances?”
He looked thoughtful for a moment, “If he survives through the night, then he’s a hell of a fighter. Once we assess the damage, I can give you a more accurate report.”
We both stood and I thanked him for his honesty. I put on a brave face as I entered the waiting room. Cassidy nearly jumped out of her chair, “Where’s Daddy? Can we see him now?”
I shook my head slowly, trying to figure out the best way to relay the news. I sat down in a chair before pulling her into my lap. Instead of a crowded waiting room, it seemed as if it were just her and I. Rubbing her back, I whispered, “Your daddy is a fighter. The doctor said he lost a lot of blood, so they are just trying to get him comfortable before they can tell how bad it is, okay?” I hugged her tight, “As soon as I know more, you’ll the first to know. Deal?”
She nodded her head slowly, a single tear falling down her face, “Sabrina?”
“If my daddy dies, can I come live with you and Esther?”
The tears I’d been holding back formed rivers on my face as I tried to give her an answer, “Oh honey, I wish I could promise you that your dad will be alright. Of course, you can live with Esther and I. We’re a family.”
Her young face relaxed, and I could tell that it was something she had been stressing about. I pulled two chairs together, making a small bed. Patting beside me, I motioned for her to lay down, “If anything important happens, I’ll wake you, but you need some sleep, okay?”
After some time had passed, she finally relaxed enough to fall asleep. I began to nod off, when my mom touched my shoulder. I startled awake, nearly knocking over my chair. She apologized profusely, “Oh, Hon, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I just wanted to ask if you wanted us to take Esther to our house. We’d be happy to keep her for a few days while you get things straightened out here.”
Still not fully awake, I tried to process her question before answering, “Uhm, yeah, that should work. If we’re still here tomorrow afternoon, would you bring her by so I can see her?”
My mother put her arms around me, agreeing, before she and my dad left. It was almost 6 a.m. before the doctor appeared in the waiting room, “Miss Quinn?”
I jumped out of my chair, desperate for some sort of news. I stood before him, but my legs began to quiver with fear and exhaustion. He cleared his throat, speaking in a hushed voice, “He is stabilized, and we managed to extract both bullets.” His words stopped, but I could tell there was more.
I urged him on, “But….?”
He sighed, “The wound to his stomach missed all of his major organs except for a tiny portion of his liver, but we managed to excise that and it will grow back. However, the other bullet was lodged in the base of his spine, causing much nerve damage. It will be nothing short of a miracle if he can walk again.”
I shook my head incredulously, “But he’ll be okay?”
Dr. Sinclair put his hand on my shoulder, “If we manage to avoid any infection or complications, I expect that he’ll pull through.”
I fought the urge to throw my arms around the doctor, laughing my relief. His eyes were kind as I thanked him. He shook my hand before asking, “So, how far along are you?”
My eyes grew wide as I asked, “How did you know? I haven’t told anyone yet.”
He smirked proudly, “I was an OB-GYN for 30 years before I became a surgeon. After a certain point, you can just tell. Plus, you’ve got the glow.”
I blushed, finally feeling a shrivel of hope in my chest. Thanking him once again, I sat back down in the waiting room. Remembering my promise, I woke Cassidy to tell her the good news.
Only 3 hours later, we were allowed to visit Justin in the recovery ward. They had him pumped full of morphine to keep the pain at bay. I held his hand, tears of every emotion under the sun falling onto his bed. For a moment, I forgot that Cassidy was in the room and I began to “yell” at Justin, “Justin Walsh, don’t you dare leave me now, because we’ve got another person who depends on you on the way. You hear me? You can’t leave us now. You stay strong and we’ll get through this together.”
I heard Cassidy gasp, “You’re going to have a baby?”
I groaned inwardly, knowing there would be no way keep this hidden now. I kissed Justin’s forehead before facing Cassidy, “You’re going to be a big sister but I need your help keeping it a secret for awhile, okay?”
A myriad of emotions crossed her face until she settled on one: anger, surprisingly, “I knew it! You’re going to marry Daddy, have babies with him and forget all about me. I’ll be like Cinderella!” She stormed out of the room. I caught up to her as she was stepping on to the elevator. I grabbed her hand, gently, but forcefully enough that she knew I was serious, “Cassidy! Stop, please.” I pulled her into my arms, and sank down onto the floor, leaning against the wall. I rocked her, until we were both spent from crying. She was still sobbing when I began to speak, “Cassidy Ann Walsh, I love you just as much as I love this baby or Esther, you hear me? You’ve gone through more than any 8-year-old should ever have to through in life, and I know that I’ll never be the exact same as your mom, but I promise, your daddy and I will love you just as much as he loves this new baby. In fact, you’ll always be extra special to him, because you carry part of your mother around with you, and that’s something that I’ll never be able to replace.”
Cassidy’s sobs had quieted by the time I had finished. She wrapped her arms around my shoulders, “Sometimes, I miss Mommy so much that my heart hurt, and other times I can barely remember what she looked like,” she pulled away before continuing, “Sabrina, I think it would be okay with my mom if I called you Mom too. I know Esther and the new baby will call you ‘Mom’ and I think I’d like to, too, if you’d be okay with that.”
I stood up, hugging her once more, “I would love that, sweetie.”
We walked hand in hand back to Justin’s room. Before we reached the door, an alarm began to flash over his room, and a voice on the loudspeaker called out, “Code Blue in room 507. Repeat: Code Blue in Room 507” Cassidy and I were ushered out of the way by a team of nurses and doctors. I begged for someone to tell me what was going on and luckily, one nurse took pity on me and said in passing, “The patient stopped breathing, and our team is going to try and revive him.” Cassidy buried her face in my shirt and I held her tight. I somehow stumbled to the nearest available chair, keeping her small face pressed against my shoulder.
As quick as it had started, the alarm went off and the team shuffled out of his room. Dr. Sinclair looked around until he spotted us. He wrung his hands as he said, “Your fiance is okay for now, but his brain has started swell. I think he might have suffered a concussion from the fall to the ground. We have him in a medically induced coma, until the swelling begins to go down. Then we can assess the damage.” He knelt down and took Cassidy’s hand, “Sweetheart, I am going to do everything in my power to help your daddy get better, “Okay?”
Cassidy nodded timidly, her hand clutching mine. I patted her hand reassuringly before thanking Dr. Sinclair. I led her down the hall, sitting us both down. The numbness had begun to crawl up my body again. I didn’t want to cry in front of Cassidy, but I couldn’t keep it in anymore. I began to sob quietly as I rested a hand on my unborn child.