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Engulfed Once Again
I feel a slight breeze hitting my face just as my hair begins to stick to my upper arms and back. Slowly my stress unwinds as the sun soaks up my pent up energy. Finally I relax. My face falls slack as I smell the perfume of lilacs, orchids, and lingering scent of baby’s breath all around me. I turn and drink in the scenery like a cool glass of lemonade that I desperately want. Then I notice the lily pad in the pond trying to escape my eye like an extravagant escape artist. Its’ vivid hues and textures reminded me of my mother’s silk blanket in my kitchen. In a matter of weeks the lily pad’s white flower would soon wither up to nothingness. The flower’s death was imminent. Death happens everywhere, so why linger on such a morbid topic after all the good in my life. Then like a bolt of lightening struck me, I remembered the dying flower nobody can save or help. I tried to heave the memory aside but to no avail. Soon the faint trickle of tears seeped out of my eyes as I let the memory engulfed me once again.
* * *
Martha quickly says, “Hello Jane we have a busy day today.”
I smile and nod in affirmation but think of how she loves to dump her work on me. Just last week she claimed to have a headache and begged me to finish her weekly transactions. I scurry to my station and notice my co-worker Sara’s a huge bouquet of flowers on her desk. I stop to think about Sara’s beloved roses and wonder what a real relationship feels like. A thick fog of despair looms above me as I begin to wonder.
The phone abruptly rings and interrupts my thoughts; I swiftly grab the mundane office phone and answer, “Hello Federal Credit Union how may I help you?”
“Jane this is Dr. Andrews at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I need you to come here but stay calm. There has been an accident and you need to come in immediately.”
I scrambled my thoughts together and blurted out, “What’s this all about? What’s happened? Who’s hurt? It’s my parents, isn’t it?”
“Oh no, I’m sorry; your brother is very sick, and we need to test you and ask you some routine questions. Your parents arrived not too long ago.”
“What tests? Oh no, no, no I’m a hemophiliac, so there’ll be no test that’s for certain. Plus I’m at work, so I’m busy. What did he do, break his leg again?”
“No, it’s much more serious than that. We just found out your brother has thalassemia major or better known as Mediterranean anemia. It means your brother has a low hemoglobin production and excessive destruction of red blood cells. I’m so sorry, but the only way to cure it is by blood transfusion or bone marrow transplant. I need to confirm that you have type O negative blood. Your parents aren’t able to give their blood because they both have a different blood type than Alex. We looked up your medical history and found you to have negative O blood just like your brother.”
The lump in my throat crushed my vocal chords; I could not breathe let alone talk to Dr.Andrews. My heart felt like it might burst from my worry filled veins.
I whimpered, “I’ll be right there.”
Suddenly I felt a rush of heat flowing through my body and the hot tears flowed like smoldering iron to the casting pit. I exploded out of work with numerous eyes of concern all around me. I scrambled for my keys in my purse but ended up dumping it in the parking lot. Finally I found them. I left my purse, unlocked my door, and slammed it into drive. I felt my face start to swell and turn bright pink as I burned the tires down Monroe Street. My mind did not focus on the traffic but only on my dear baby brother. Alex was never sick as a child and definitely never caught the stomach virus like I did. My mind danced around the idea as I veered onto Fifth Street. I saw the hospital in my sight as my knuckles suddenly turn white. I sped to the entrance with the queasy feeling that I might throw up any second. I flew into the emergency room lot as I clipped a curb. My clammy hands slid on the steering wheel as I pulled into the nearest available space.
I raced into the waiting room and let the musty sterilization scent smack me in the face. I knew I felt a panic attack about to peak. Just when I thought all was lost, I saw Dr. Andrews calmly rise from an average waiting room chair to greet me.
“Hello Jane, you made it here quicker than I imagined. You look awful, just calm down ok?”
He always had a way with words and I absolutely hated it. I hated his beautiful brown eyes, gorgeous lips, and tousled hair that any girl, especially me, would love to run their fingers through.
“I’m fine. Where’s my brother?” I asked through clenched teeth.
“He’s in room 218. We will go there in a few moments, but first I need to ask you something. Would you be willing to give your brother a bone marrow transplant even though you’re a hemophiliac? There’s a good chance we can perform this procedure safely you know.”
“I don’t know, maybe! I mean I don’t wanna die tryin’ to save him! Can’t you just find another donor? Honestly I’m not the best choice.” I practically screamed at him out of utter frustration.
“Yes you are the best choice, medically speaking that is. He’s less likely to reject the transplant if it comes from a family member with the right criteria. He needs you.”
“But I can’t; I won’t; I’m not gonna die along with him!”
I burst into tears as he comforted me and ushered me into the elevator. Of course as soon as the doors opened I noticed five other people staring at my tear stained blouse. I felt too vulnerable, and the weight of others eyes did not help. I desperately tried to dry my face and wipe away my running mascara. My body felt limp and useless as the doors finally opened. We walked out and I stopped to turn to him. I could not help but melt to his request when he looked at me with those deep caramel eyes.
“Ok, I’ll do it, but please promise me I won’t bleed to death. It’s kinda my worst fear,” I said with amazing clarity.
“You will be just fine, I’ll be right there if anything happens,” he said in the most passive and comforting voice.
We swiftly walked into the hallway to head to Alex’s room. As we walked I heard a frenzy of noises: people screaming, a nurse calling a code blue, the shuffle of nearby feet, and doors slamming.
“Oh god,” Dr.Andrews cried. “Stay here don’t move.”
“What’s wrong? Where are you going?”
Suddenly as if a fog had lifted, I realized why he did not want me to follow. Dr. Andrews quickly ran into Alex’s room. I froze. My heart sank and my fists clenched. I wanted to move, but I stayed pinned to the very spot I stood. I felt paralyzed, but then I heard voices.
“Clear,” his frantic voice said. “Nurse charge to two hundred, clear.”
“Nothing doctor,” an unfamiliar voice exclaimed.
“Charge again and push one milligram of epi. Clear! Clear! Clear!”
“Come on don’t quit on me now! Clear!”
“Doctor there’s no use call it.”
“No, not yet. Clear! Clear!”
“Time of death 10:02 a.m.”
“No,” I screamed. “Not my brother, please no.”
I collapsed onto the floor like someone had knocked my feet out from underneath me. I gasped. The pain was utterly breathtaking.
* * *
The tears relentlessly poured out from me. I missed Alex so much it hurts. I wanted to see him graduate from college, find a wonderful Christian girl to marry, and settle down. The past holidays were hard for everyone, especially mom. I can not believe he died just two years ago. It seems like yesterday I received that disturbing phone call.
“Oh, Jane what’s wrong? Cheer up it’s ok and a wonderful day. We could go for a walk if you’d like,” my lover told me.
“I don’t know if I feel up to it Mark, maybe after dinner ok?”
“Sure darling whatever you say. Supper will be ready in a few.”
“Ok I’ll be right there.”
“You better be!” he exclaimed while winking at me.
I smiled and briefly chuckled at his absurdity. I glanced down at our wedding ring and wondered what Alex would have thought of Mark and me. I sighed and realized without Alex’s death Mark and I would not be married today. The day he comforted me at the funeral was the day I fell in love.
“I guess good things can come from tragedies,” I sighed to myself hoping Alex heard me.