I paced up and down the waiting area of the hospital. Ok, I wheeled. Staci was just beyond those double doors.
The accident that placed me in this wheelchair with a broken femur, a few cracked ribs, and some scrapes and bruises had also placed Staci, my Staci, beyond those double doors. She was in her third surgery in as many days. This one, however, was taking longer than the others. Her nurse, Gina, said that was a good thing, it meant she was strong and could handle the surgery itself. But that didn't mean she was ever going to wake up.
I sighed loudly before turning the wheelchair I was bound to and headed back the other direction.
“Sid, man, you're denting the floor; I can see the grooves.” Colby, my best friend since moving to Pittsburgh chuckled, half serious. I looked up and glared at him, catching the concerned look in Mel's, his girlfriend, eye. “Dude, don't bite my head of with your evil eyes. She's going to be fine. Stop freaking out.” I shook my head, sighing again, as I turned to head the way I started.
About two feet down in my direct path stood my childhood friend, and Staci's, Jack. I sighed as I rolled up to him.
“Move, Jack.” I mumbled the first words I spoke to anyone but Staci in three days.
“Not until you stop pacing, or whatever it is you're doing.” Jack stubbornly stated. I turned my face up to glare at him.
“Move, Jack.” I bit out through a clenched jaw and I saw him shake his head sadly. “I'm not afraid to run over your foot, you poor excuse for a friend.” His eyes betrayed his hurt at my comment for a brief second before the stubbornness resumed.
“Forget it, Sid. You're going to have to throw me out, and I was stronger than you before you got hurt, so good luck, buddy.” He tried to grin, but to me, it looked more like a grimace as I moved the chair to go around him. As I moved, he moved with me, blocking every angle. I finally gave up on that direction and turned to find Marc in front of me going the other way.
“Daryl, we know you love Staci.” He started, Vero standing directly at his right shoulder. “We know you're worried about Staci. We all are.” He sighed gesturing to the room that had been filled with friends and family from Pittsburgh and beyond. “But you need to stop. You're hurting yourself. Just stop, Sid.” Marc's soft words, in that stupid accent, did it. All of the emotions I didn't want any of them to see. All of the emotions I had poured out to her when she wasn't in surgery fell out of me.
All I could do at that moment was hang my head in my chair and sob. I, myself, was shocked at how painful and loud my sobs sounded. I was so lost in my own grief that I didn't feel Vero, Mel, and Nathalie surround me in comforting embraces; their own tears gently falling onto my head and shoulders.
We sat there clutching at each other for what seemed like hours. I realized then that this was my support system. These were the people that would get me through this. Good or bad. 'Please God,' I prayed, 'just let it be good.' I clung to them until an official sounding throat clearing caught my attention. The three women pulled away from me, revealing a tall, young doctor.
“Mr. Crosby,” he started with a sigh. “Mr. Crosby, your fiancée is out of surgery now. We've done all we can for the burns. She is still unconscious, we're unsure of how long she'll remain in that state, but expect a while yet. Her body has gone through a lot.” I stared up at the doctor and nodded mutely.
“Is she going to be ok?” Vero quietly asked at my right shoulder. The doctor sighed that heavy sigh that doctor’s give when they know that the answer they have is not the answer you want.
“That's not an answer I can give at this moment.” We all stood there, shocked, those who were seated now stood behind myself, Marc, Jack, and the girls. “What I mean is, she's been through a major trauma. 75% of her body is covered in second or third degree burns. She suffered sever internal injuries and excessive external ones. However, we have seen over the past three days that she is a fighter. And I have faith that she will pull through,” He sighed for the fourth or fifth time. “However I can make no guarantees on her well being at this point. We need her to wake up before anything can be determined.” He smiled sadly and nodded before heading back through those damned double doors.
I simply sat, miserable, and in more shock than my body thought it could handle. My hands shook and had a fairly good idea that my voice had left my throat. So I just sat... Staring at those double doors, waiting for her to walk through them.
“Sidney...” A soft African accented voice called through my haze. My eyes moved slowly upwards to find Gina standing near me. “How would you like to sit with her again?” I nodded wordlessly and saw her mouth the word 'sixteen' to whoever was standing behind me. My sigh echoed the walls as the person behind me pushed me down the hallway to 'sixteen' as Gina mentioned. They paused directly outside the door, causing me to take hold of the wheels.
I turned my head to look back and saw Jack staring wordlessly at the fragile being on the bed.
“I know, Jack... I know...” I whispered wheeling myself a little into the room. I turned again to see him slowly turning. “Hey, Jack?” His head turned mid step to take me in. “Thanks.” I half smiled, genuinely. My friend returned the smile with slight difficulty before nodding and walking slowly back to the waiting room.
I turned back to the bed in the middle of the room and wheeled up to it carefully. I easily and gently took her bandaged hand in mine before letting my head collapse onto the bed and my sobs escaped.
“I'm sorry, Stace...” I sobbed, praying she could hear me. “Jesus, I'm so sorry...”