According to Webster's Dictionary tragedy is a disastrous event. Most peoples first thought on the word tragedy is horrific or life altering. And other's think of ‘Romeo and Juliet' or the ‘ Four Great Tragedies of Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. ' Whatever you may think, the story or tale, always comes down to a leader and his great fall. Ironically the word tragedy isn't tragic enough. Neither is misfortune, adversity, disaster or even horrific, frightening and terrorizing.
There's only one word that describes every feeling and every thought that we went through, C alamitat. Calamitat is Latin, meaning a state of misery. In English, the word can be translated into calamity, meaning a state of deep distress caused by an extraordinarily grave event marked by a great loss which caused lasting distress and affliction.
It's been six months since our world feel apart. Everything we had ever known was ripped from the grasp of our hands. The stain of tears and the smell of blood are still fresh in our minds. This is not a tragedy, a misfortunate event or a horrific ordeal; this is what our life had become. The endless pain of the memory was forever seared into our brain; these are scars that will never heal. The only thing that kept us going was the promise of new life.
It's 3 a.m. and I'm up doing my nightly rounds. I haven't had more then 3 hours sleep since the accident. Accident, that's the only thing that we call it, we never speak of it out loud, but it was exactly that, an accident.
My first stop, is Kyle's room, he never comes out. He would never eat either, if I didn't deliver him food and sit there and made sure he ate. I have to watch him like a hawk; he's gotten better these last few weeks. I don't have to lock his door at night anymore. Even on a few occasions, he's spoken to me, which is a serious improvement. Since the accident he hasn't spoken a word, nothing, not even a grunt. I don't know if he talks to his therapist, but I know he goes. I drive him three times a week to see her. I always make sure he walks in the building before driving off. I hide out in the parking lot down the street for two hours, while he's in session, to make sure he doesn't escape. When his session is over the Dr. calls my cell, telling me he's ready.
I open his door quietly as possible, he's asleep, that's all he does is sleep, at least he's not having a nightmare tonight. His screaming has woken me up several nights in a row, when I run into his room, I don't dare touch him, I just bring him a wash cloth, a glass of water and sit in the only thing that's not destroyed in the room, his chair. The last time I touched Kyle since the accident was when he was admitted into the hospital.
I make myself comfortable in his reading chair, because I know in about an hour he needs to wake up to get ready to leave. Twice a month, Kyle has to check himself into the hospital for 2 days of testing, its part of his probation agreement, I guess it's routine. I don't know I've never been in rehab before. But from what the doctor says it's normal. Normal, that word is foreign to us lately.
As I look around at the destruction that he used to call a room, I see a corner of a picture frame sticking out from under a pile of clothes. I stretch as far as my arms let me to reach it, and once I realize what it is, I drop it like it was the devil itself. The frame was broken in half and the glass was shattered but I would know that picture anywhere. It was the last one taken of the four of us it was in front of the Wedding Chapel in Vegas.
As my finger traces the smiling faces in the picture, I try to hold back the tears until I was alone, but without fail the river flowed forth. I grabbed the edge of my sleeve to wipe the tears, but the site of blood pulling around the tip of my finger halts my actions. My eyes dart between my finger and the picture, the only thought that entered my mind was, why us? What did we ever do to deserve this?
* * * * *
It was the hottest day of the year to date. It was May but with the heat in the air it felt like August. We got our yearbooks that morning and after a couple classes we headed home to find Baby. Sean wanted to go for a swim and we all quickly agreed, we hadn't turned on the air in the loft yet, but if the heat didn't break soon, it was sure to come on.
First we went to the swimming hole, down by the stream. But upon arriving we found that several other students had the same idea. Kyle suggested the Lock House, it was one of our favorite haunts but we never swam there before.
The Lock House was one of our local historical buildings in town. It was a brick building that sat right on the Susquehanna River, the house used to home the gatemen. His job was to unlock (open) and lock (close) the gate to the town. Back in the 1700's the only way in and out of town to the businessmen and merchants, was the river. It was off the path and was only open during tour session, June-August. In front of the house was water for 5 miles and in the back were woods for 1. It was quiet, secluded and peaceful.
We're all strong swimmers, but swimming in a River that runs through three states and is directly connected to the Bay that is housed in the Atlantic Ocean, was a bad idea. It was 2 o'clock in the afternoon, we were hot and walked for over a mile, and the last thing on our mind was the current.
Kyle was the first to jump in followed by Sean. Baby and I stood with our feet in the water waiting for their reaction. Everything being okay, I walked in dragging Baby with me. She didn't want to go any further then her knees, not knowing what was in the water; she didn't want it to hurt the baby. After about an hour we decided to start heading back, the water was rising quickly and we didn't want to risk getting caught by Marina Patrol.
We started to head ashore when Sean yelled “Help.” We thought he was joking until he yelled, “My foot, it's stuck.” Kyle was the closest and swam out to help, he went under to see what Sean was stuck on, but with the tide rising, the debris was kicking up making it impossible for you to open your eyes. Kyle quickly surfaced yelling for my help. I swim out as fast as I can, but the current was getting stronger, I yelled for Baby to get back on shore and don't come back in. Watching her make it to shore safely, I hurried over to help Kyle. We couldn't get his foot loose and to make matters worse he wasn't wearing shoes. I told Kyle to swim to shore and get help that I would stay here. I didn't even get to finish my sentence before he took off.
The tide was moving in higher and it was completely covering Sean's head. I kept diving under to give him my breath, when I came up the last time, I could see the fire department running to shore. I took one final deep breath, moving back under to give it to Sean, when I felt his hand slip from mine.
Still in Flashback
I drove under, opening my eyes, frantically looking around, but finding nothing. The dirt and debris burning my eyes until I couldn't take it anymore, I reservist finding a fireman, reaching out to me. Telling him what happened he sent me to shore to get checked out. Swimming to shore, I started to look for Baby, when I finally reached the beach; I found her sitting on the picnic table starring out to sea, Kyle next to her, their hands clenching each others in a white knuckle grip. I brushed off the paramedic and sat next to her holding her one hand and placing my arm around her, with my hand resting on Kyle's shoulder.
We sat there in the exact same position until nightfall, watching as drivers were scanning the area. All the emergency crews were there, firemen, paramedics, police, marina patrol, and divers.
They go down and come up with nothing. They sent their divers on a wider search of the area, they had patrol search the island on the other side of the river. Still nothing.
The sun started to rise when they called off the search. They said there was nothing left they could do; he couldn't have survived. So they left. Everyone had left, everyone except the paramedic and Officer Harris.
We never moved once, never. We sat in that same position all night and all day, never moving. Every hour one of them would come over and place juice and food on the table, we never touched it. They would come over and check our vitals; we never moved to help them. They would wrap blankets around us, when the wind would blow them off; Harris would put them back on. The only movement that was made was a flowing of silent tears, until Baby gave an earth shattering scream that rocked us from our world.
Face down flapping against the shore brought in by the evening tide was Sean. Kyle moved to go to him, but before he got his second foot on the ground I grabbed him back. Under the dirt and the seaweed, laid our brother, bloated and blue, we knew who it was; we didn't need to see his face to know it was him.
Officer Harris and Medic Jacobs moved quickly to wrap his body and load it into the ambulance. Officer Harris escorted us home. He took care of everything. Calling the parents, the school, and doing damage control.
Due to the state of Sean's body we had to have an emergency funeral. Kyle and Sean's Dad wanted nothing to do with anything; he didn't even bother to come home to console his only son. Their Mom was upset and of course blaming us, didn't want anything to do with it either.
After Uncle Mark called the school and pulled some strings, we were able to graduate without taking the finals, and do to the shocking news they moved the Graduation Ceremony to the next day so students could attend the service.
The service was held at, St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Kyle, Uncle Mark, Dad, and I carried his casket. Everyone I think Sean ever met was there; it was so packed people were standing in a church that sat 200. We buried him in Angel Hill Cemetery. His family didn't want anything to do with him, so we decided that even in death; he should be with the ones he loved. He was buried in the Guerin family plot.
The next day was graduation, we didn't want to go, but as usual there was a catch. Because we didn't take our finals we had to attend the ceremony, if we didn't we had to repeat the whole year. So we went, Kyle and I were so pumped up on drugs, I couldn't tell you what the hell was going on. Baby was almost as bad, granted she didn't take anything, but sorrow is it own drug.
After the ceremony we went back to where it all began, The Lock House. I thought that the worst was over, but I was wrong. The worst was yet to come
“Hey, what are you doing up?” Baby walked in Kyle's room pulling me from going further down the spiral. She has been on complete bed rest since what happened to Kyle, she was not happy about being an invalid, but she got up every once in awhile to move around, I was her second shadow.
“I couldn't sleep and you weren't there, I thought he had another nightmare.”
“No, not tonight, but I couldn't sleep so I came to check on him.”
“You ok, when I walked in it looked like you were upset?” Damn it, I was hoping she didn't catch that.
“No, I was just remembering the . . .” I dropped off, knowing she would pick up my thought. It was just too early to speak of it out loud.
“Yeah. What time is Dad going to be here?”
“4:30, why what time is it?”
“4” I move to get out of the chair when she holds her hand out, “Let me.” I quietly nod. I know Kyle would never do anything to hurt her; she was the only one he allowed to touch him, but still I was scarred of what he was capable of.
Baby walks over to sit on his bed; she gently strokes his cheek, until his eyes flutter, “Sleepy head, its time for you to go.” God I miss her voice, she rarely uses it anymore.
Kyle opens his eyes and turns to her rolling on to his back with what I would call close to a smile and reaches out to rub her huge stomach. “No the baby's not coming when your gone, so don't worry. You need to get dressed, you can't be late. Your bags are already packed; Michael did it for you last night. All your clothes are clean, so please don't wear the same outfit. I've also packed you breakfast, so get up, get dressed and meet us in the kitchen for coffee. Please.” After he silently agreed, I went to help Baby up.
Baby and I were sitting in the kitchen when there was a knock on the door. It was my Dad. Since the accident he has practically lived with us. He has kept me sane, dealing with Baby and Kyle, he's truly been a great help. Baby is four weeks over her delivery date and I haven't been able to take Kyle to his appointments, for fear of her going into labor while were gone, so he's been doing it for me.
Kyle comes out and with one look at him; my breath catches in my throat. The sound didn't go unheard, Baby and Dad turned to see what it was. Kyle was in fresh clothes, khaki's and a black button down shirt, his face was shaved and his hair was slicked back. One look at him, and anybody that knew what was happening would have been fooled by his appearance. In four long strides he was in front of Baby, bending over and kissing her cheek, walking past me he patted my shoulder and walked out the door. We were stunned, when did this happen?
* * * * *
After the graduation ceremony we went to the Lock house, Baby walked out into the dock and laid down, Kyle sat at the shoreline and I was sitting on the picnic table. I must have fallen asleep because, one minute I was staring into space and the next I heard Baby yelling for me. I quickly jumped into action and ran out onto the dock.
Kyle was lying next to her with a needle hanging out of his arm and he wasn't breathing. Immediately I tossed the phone at her and told her to call 911 and I began CPR, silently thanking God, I stayed awake during freshman health. I managed to get him breathing again, but his pulse was weak. The paramedics finally showed up taking over.
They loaded him in and I pushed Baby in with him and told her I would follow in the car, not trusting her to drive. When I got to the hospital Officer Harris was holding her. Once we got her calmed down enough to be able to sit still I went to find someone, I ran into the closed doors, demanding answers.
They lost him twice in the ride over. The nurse who was giving me my answers was also trying to find out what he was on; I told her, I only knew what he took earlier in the day, three doses of ecstasy and two fryers. I told them to check his inner jacket pocket; he had a needle in his arm when I found him. On the bed next to him was his jacket and sure enough in the inner pocket was a black zipper bag, full of heroin and all the necessities.
I know he didn't get that from me; I do not sell or use anything that requires a needle. And I only sell cocaine when a client requests it and I stopped that after my last bust, in October. When the doctor asked me to leave, I walked out to find Harris and Baby. One of the nurses placed a monitor on her and the baby and told her to sit and not move, finding out she doesn't listen, moved her to a private waiting room with a couch.
“Harris, I need you to do something for me.”
“Are you asking, Officer Harris, or Uncle Mark?” Harris walked a fine line between the two, when it came to us. He was smart though, always using his brain to cover his ass when the lines crossed.
“Both. Kyle had heroin, in his system as well as on him. From the looks of the bag, it was an ounce when he bought it, but it's half empty now. You and I both no he didn't get that from me. There's only one dealer in this town that houses that amount, and he's not stupid enough to go over me. But he knows people, shady people. I need to know if the drugs are clean, who he bought them from, and how he got them. My bets on the funeral, he disappeared between the service and the burial. I want the fucker who sold it. I need you to do anything you can, to make sure, Kyle doesn't go to jail. I mean anything. Baby can't handle losing Kyle, not after . . .”
“Thanks, are you going to hang around a while?”
“Yeah, I need answers to.”
“I'm going to go be with Baby, if you hear anything, could you find me?”
“God I can't wait for this kid to come.” We just got back from breakfast. I haven't had enough energy lately to cook for her, so normally we go out or order in. The lack of sleep was wearing down on me.
“Why?” Baby was lying on the couch and being the loving husband I am, picked up her foot from my lap and began massaging it.
“Because I can't see my feet. And I know I need a pedicure and my legs feel like a tree is growing on them. I can't move to do it myself and I can't leave to get it done. My boobs are the size of cantaloupes and I have to go without a bra because they don't fit anymore, which makes my back hurt. I could go on for hours.”
“There's no need, I get the picture. But I would like to help. I don't know how to do pedicures, but I do know how to paint. I've seen you shave and wax your legs enough to know what to do. And your boobs, well I would like to thank you for that.”
“Yeah, I love the no bra.”
“As I recall you have always loved me in nothing.”
I softly kiss her lips and pull away quickly before we start anything. We haven't made love since the accident; actually we haven't gone further then a quick French kiss. It was an unspoken agreement that it just felt wrong, having sex with everything that was going on. Lately I think Baby is more then ready to have sex, but neither of us will make a move.
“Are you serious?”
“The pedicure and shaving.” I nod. “Then can we take a bath?”
After the bath, I convinced Baby to lie down. As usual she had her own agenda, but it didn't work. I changed the sheets, gave her a back massage and she fell asleep immediately when I began rubbing lotion on her belly, works every time.
Going into Kyle's room I started to clean it the best I could. I do this every time, he leaves for the hospital, maybe when he returns this time he won't tear it to shreds. When I stripped the bed to change the sheets, the picture from earlier falls out from under his pillow. I picked it up to stare at it again and I couldn't help but wonder if Kyle was watching me earlier looking at it. He must have seen it, how else had it got there. I wondered if his improved attitude was the cause of this. Time does heal all wounds; maybe, just maybe Baby was right it was our time.
After I got the washer loaded, I head back up the stairs to rest with Baby, with Kyle gone it's the only time I get to fully sleep. As soon as my head hits the pillow I can't help but reach out to rub her tummy, my mind replays our conversation from earlier.
* * * * *
Baby had decided that her legs were too hairy to shave in a bath so we took a quick shower first and now we were sitting together in an extremely hot bath relaxing.
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“Always,” We never had secrets from each other just thoughts.
“The real reason, I want this baby to hurry up and come, is because of Kyle.”
“We've always been there for each other, but since the . . . if it wasn't for you and the baby . . . I wouldn't have been able to survive. I only dealt with it because I had to . . . I'm pregnant I had no other choice, but to survive. You . . . you and Kyle choose other options. And I know that since it happened you haven't done or dealt them . . . I'm grateful for that. But Kyle . . . I don't know what he's going through . . . I do, but I've never had a twin, so I don't truly know. He's completely shut down, and if it wasn't for you, he'd be gone to . . . You haven't dealt with it either. You've been so busy taking care of us . . . Michael . . . your just going with the motion. And me . . . I've just been so locked up in my head . . . I didn't realize until today, how much you've done. When Kyle walked out the room . . . it was like . . . a dawn of a new day . . . it almost felt like the storm was over.”
“Baby you're wrong, I have dealt with it, because like you I had to. There was no one left to pick up the pieces, so I did. And in doing that I healed. I couldn't protect myself like you did, who would have watched Kyle? And I didn't hide from the world like Kyle, because who would have taken care of you? After watching what he did to himself, I couldn't bring myself to make you watch me do it too. So I did the only thing I could. I accepted it. I made a promise that I would do whatever it takes to make sure that never happens again. And I always keep my promises. Were family and in a family someone always there to hold you up”
“It's weird isn't it?”
“That the roles have reversed.”
“I'm not following.”
“The roles have reversed. It used to be me. I was always fixed it, now it's you.”
“Yeah well after the baby's born I'm handing it back over.”
“Its time.” I gave Baby a panicked look, ready to jump into action. But once she looked at me she continued. “Time heals all wounds, and our time has come.”
When I woke up it was after 10 p.m. and Baby was still asleep. She's been sleeping a lot lately, more then usual. Feeling well rested, I decided to make dinner.
On my way to the kitchen, I make a quick left towards the beeping answering machine. After pressing play, I propped myself against the couch to listen.
You have 2 messages. First message, Friday 2:33 p.m.
Hey Michael, it's Dad, calling to tell you that Kyle will be home a day early. When I checked him in they said that this was his last visit. He's completed this part of the program. I'll explain more when I bring him home. .
Message 2, Friday 6:57 p.m.
Michael, it's Mark, wanted to remind you that Kyle is due in court Monday at 9 for his probation hearing. I will meet you guys at the court house, if anything changes call me. DON”T FORGET!
End of Messages.
I moved to the kitchen to start dinner. Wow, I can't believe that it's been six months already, I remember it like it was yesterday.
* * * * *
Kyle was released from the hospital after 2 days and was immediately taken to jail. Harris couldn't stop it from happening. Baby was checked into the hospital also. The baby's heartbeat was dangerously high and they gave her some drugs to bring it down. And when her Dr. heard of what happened put her on complete bed rest. She didn't listen. Immediately after her release we went to the court house for Kyle's bail hearing. We didn't make it in time, he was the first docket, but before I could raise hell, Harris came out of the court room.
“He pled guilty.”
“What about the Attempted Suicide?”
“I never charged him.”
“O there is a God.” Baby always with the drama.
“Baby maybe you should sit down.”
“O, don't you start on me Officer Harris; I have a right to know.”
“Yes you do, but please sit down and I will fill you in.” We walked over to the benches, making Baby sit; turning to Harris we continued our conversation.
“Why didn't you charge him?”
“I couldn't get any information from the dealer you brought in. You remember him don't you? The one you dropped at the station door beaten within an inch of his death?”
“Harris,” Baby warned.
Hearing Baby's warning Harris continued, “I talked Kyle, into giving me his name in exchange for a walk on the charge. The drugs we dirty”
“So what happened?”
“He pled guilty and the judge assigned him to 2 months in mandatory rehab, followed by 4 months out patient and he has to see a psychiatrist for a year. In six months he will be brought before the judge again to reassess the case. If he does this and stays out of trouble, I mean anything, not even j-walking, the probation will be lifted. If not he will go to jail for 10 years. You're lucky the judge is a friend. I told him his background.”
“And the dealer?”
“Not my jurisdiction, I handed it over. He will not walk, he'll be lucky to get less then 20 years on good behavior.”
Kyle didn't come home for 2 months. We saw him every Wednesday and Sunday on visitation. He wouldn't talk during our visits, but just to see him was a relief. Every time we would come back to the loft, Baby would cry for rest of the day. With each visit he looked worse then the last. He was pale, extremely thin, and had thick black circles under his eyes. I don't think he showered once and I know that he never shaved, and he always had the same clothes on when we went, despite the fact that Baby always brought him fresh ones. He looked like a junkie fresh off the street.
When we finally brought him home, Kyle went straight to his room and didn't come out, or so we thought. After a week of begin home, Baby sent me to the store for ice cream, when I came back home Kyle's door was open and he was not in the loft. I sat and waited for 2 days he finally came home, drunk and smelling of sex. I knew he was on something, what I didn't know, but his eyes gave him away. Demanding answers, he never once answered, if it wasn't for Baby standing in the doorway watching us, I would have killed him. It happened again a day later, I sent Dad to pick him up. When Kyle came back home, he went straight to his room, never once looking at us. I started locking his door after that, only to open it when we went in.
The three of us were sitting on the couch watching, ‘Lake Placid' we had just finished dinner. I've seen the movie a thousand times before and could recite their lines backwards and forwards. It was one of our favorites. But I wasn't in the mood to watch it tonight, and I wasn't going to leave. So I stared off into space casually glancing at the people on either side of me, thinking that maybe for the first time in 6 months, the storm had pasted.
When Kyle came home this afternoon, he dropped his bag in his room and came out and sat with us. He didn't speak but his action proved that he was healing. Finding inspiration in Kyle's move to reconnect, I made dinner. It was nothing special about the meal, it was the company. Before the accident the four of us always ate dinner together. It was our thing. Sometimes we talked and others we just kept quiet, but we always did it together.
During the movie, Baby fell asleep. Seeing that she wasn't comfortable, I moved her up to bed. Once I tucked her in and kissed her forehead, I turned around and saw Kyle standing in the doorway. I stepped out of the room, leaving him there.
I went to the kitchen to start cleaning up from dinner, I don't know when I became domestic, I don't know anything anymore. I just got the sink full of water, when Kyle came up next to me and grabbed a dish towel. I quickly started washing the dishes, I needed something to keep my mind occupied, so I didn't demand answers to my questions.
Kyle had finished putting away the last plate, when I moved to start a pot of coffee. I had expected Kyle to lock himself back in his room when we were finished, so I was shocked when he sat at the table. I could see that he had something on his mind, I didn't want to scare him off so, I sat with him and waited until he could find the words. It was after the second cup of coffee that his resolve broke.
“Thank You.” Amazed that he actually spoke, I couldn't find the words to say ‘Your Welcome' so I just nodded. “I have so much that I want to say, but Thank You is all I can do for now.”
“You can talk to me, whenever, where ever, I don't care the time, just I want you to know, I'm here.”
“I know, your not invisible Michael, you never have been and you can never be, I've always noticed you.” We both got up from the table and placed our cups in the sink. Before turning in for the night, Kyle reached out to shake my hand. Accepting it he pulled me in for a hug, his parting words brought me to tears. “You don't have to worry anymore, were going to be okay.”
Getting ready for bed, Kyle's words seemed to haunt me, are we really going to be okay? In theory I knew we would be, but with everything we had been through in the last 18 years, I was amazed that we even made it this far in life. The drugs, alcohol, sex, parties, jail; we did more damage in 19 years, then adults do their whole lives. We had connections to everything and everyone, we were untouchable. But this one accident made us wake up to the fact that we weren't. Our world stopped the day Sean died. In life when you cut yourself, you get a band aid, cover it up, and move on. With death there are no band aids, there's no way to cover it up. You just move on.
Baby brought me out of my thoughts when I felt her skimming her fingers over my chest. I turned to her and I could see in her eyes, she knew what I was thinking about. I opened my mouth to talk. But she placed her finger over my lips and made a gentle ‘Shh' noise, leaning in closely to me, she forged our mouths together. Pulling her closer I swiped my tongue over her lips, begging entrance.
I couldn't take my lips off of her; all I could focus on was her, her smell, her lips, her taste, everything Baby. I took my hands from her face moving them over her body in a slow gentle caress; I knew that drove her wild. I faintly heard the beginning chords of “Fade” play in the background.
Pulling back to look at her, I could see tears forming in her eyes, I wanted to stop, I was hurting her. But when I felt her wrap her tiny legs around my waist I knew this was right. The tears weren't of pain, but rather a cleansing. I don't know if it was the words from the music or the incredible pull inside my heart, but I started to cry as well.
Moving our bodies so we both were lying on our sides with Baby's back flush against my front, touching from shoulder to shin, my hands wandered, to places, untouched in months. I knew I couldn't hold out any longer, I slowly inched my fingers downward, until I felt her soft curls, running my fingers over her lower lips. I slipped one inside, hearing a satisfied gasp, I wrapped her leg over mine and slowly entered her sex. Falling into a comfortable rhythm, I heard Baby moan, pushing harder into her on the next stroke. I suddenly felt a rush of water flow over our center and pull around our thighs. Confused on what just happened I sat up to look at her face.
“I think my water just broke.”
Life, it seems, will fade away
Drifting further every day
Getting lost within myself
Nothing matters, no one else
I have lost the will to live
Simply nothing more to give
There is nothing more for me
Need the end to set me free
Things not what they used to be
Missing one inside of me
Deathly lost, this can't be real
Cannot stand this hell I feel
Emptiness is filling me
To the point of agony
Growing darkness taking dawn
I was me, but now he's gone
No one but me
Can save myself,
But it's too late
Now I can't think,
Think why I should even try
As though it never existed
Death greets me warm,
Now I will just say goodbye
Fade to Black by Metallica
Jumping up and off the bed, I stared at her face, “What do you mean you think your water broke.”
“Okay smartass, I know my water just broke.” That did it I started running around the room, trying to find her hospital bag. “Michael.”
Knowing immediately that tone was not one of annoyance but rather pain, I ran to her side. “Contraction?”
She couldn't answer her breathing was labored, but the vise grip she had on my hand was enough. “Okay, Baby just breathe, it will pass in a second.” Feeling her grip lessen, the only thing I could do to help her was rub her back and say, “I love you.”
“I love you more, now please help me up.” Moving off the bed again, I raised her up and started looking for clothes. I saw Baby walk passed me and into the bathroom, starting the shower. “What are you doing?”
“Taking a shower.”
“Why?” My wife is crazy; she's in labor and wants to take a shower.
“I don't know about you, but that was embarrassing and disgusting, my water broke during sex, Michael, so I'm taking a shower.”
“Baby we don't have time for a shower, you're in LABOR!”
“YEAH WELL I'VE WAITED FOR 10 MONTHS FOR THIS KID; HE CAN WAIT ON ME FOR A CHANGE!” With that she stepped in. Fearing that another contraction would come and she would slip, I jumped in after her.
After the shower we both seemed to calm down a bit, we got dressed without a problem and find her bag which was in front of the bedroom door. It was going down the stairs that the next one hit. Offering my hand, we weathered the storm.
“What's the time on those?”
Looking at my watch, “15 minutes apart.” Seeing her nod, we continued on down the stairs. Reaching the couch she sat down, “Rest here, I'm going to get Kyle. Will you be alright?”
“Yeah, just don't take to long.”
Without knocking I entered his room, he was sleeping, having no time to be nice about this I yelled, “KYLE!” My roar tossed him out of bed, “Baby's water broke, were going to the hospital, hurry up,” and walked out of his room. When I came back Baby was hanging up the phone. “Who were you talking to?”
“Dad, he's going to meet us there.”
“Good, we ready?”
“Right here.” Walking out of his room with his hair sticking straight off his head and only in boxer shorts and a wife beater, Kyle strode in.
“No, uh huh, not like that, go back put some clothes on and comb your hair.” Turning around and following Baby's orders, Kyle walked back to get dressed. “AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH!”
“Are you crazy? When your water broke did it mess something up in your head? You're in LABOR; we don't have time for your coddling.”
“Michael, shut up. You'll thank me later when he's standing across from you breathing in my bubble!”
“I love you.”
“Yeah, we'll fuck o CONTRACTION!”
Immediately falling into action running over and grabbing her hand, “Breathe, deep breaths, breathe in through your nose out through your mou, AWWW!” Baby squeezing my hand until my knuckles popped. “Now ten, minutes.” Rubbing her back to help, she looked at me, and I felt compelled to kiss her.
Pulling away, she looked at me, “I love you.”
Giving her one more kiss, “I love you more.”
Not even taking her eyes off of mine, “I love you Kyle.”
“How does she do that?” After hearing Kyle's reply I looked up wondering myself, how she knew.
“Call it mother's intuition; let's go, before another comes.”
After we got Baby in the Charger, I was sitting in the back with her and Kyle was driving. We were passing Taco Bell when the next one hit. When it was over she leaned forward and tapped Kyle on the shoulder, “Turn around.”
“Why?” Kyle and I both answered.
“Go to Taco Bell.”
Its official I'm in the twilight zone. “Baby we'll get you food in the hospital.”
“They don't sell Taco Bell in the cafeteria; I've been there enough to know. TURN AROUND!”
Kyle immediately turned the car around and headed back to Taco Bell, smacking Kyle upside his head, “Why did you turn around?”
“Dude she wants Taco Bell.”
“SHE”S IN LABOR!” Am I the only one who cares?
“I KNOW I'm driving her Charger. The same car that I have fantasized about driving for years, but was never aloud to breathe on. I'm going to do whatever in the hell she wants, and she wants Taco Bell.”
Kyle pulled into the drive thru, “Its official, you both have lost it!”
“Shut up and tell him what you want.”
We finally made it to the hospital; the contractions are now 5 minutes apart. We rushed in practically carrying Baby with us, “WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU MEAN THEIR NOT HERE!”
“Shit, I forgot about Dad.”
Whispering to Baby I replied, “Told you not to go to Taco Bell.”
Turing to walk away from the counter Dad spotted us, “WHAT THE FUCK, you just got here? You called me an hour ago.”
“Yeah, well, I was hungry, stopped at Taco Bell.” Shoving a have eaten burrito in his face Baby continued, “You want some?”
Looking at the beef burrito supreme with extra fire sauce and onions he cringed replying, “No thanks.”
Dad turned to look at me and just the look in his eye said I was going to get it. Before he could pop me in the back of the head I answered, “Kyle was driving.”
Dad turned to Kyle and whopped him in the back of his head instead, “Aww, Mr. G. that hurt.”
“Well your lucky that's all you got.”
Baby and I left them there arguing to check in. After they rushed her to the Maternity Ward, the doctor sent me to get dressed in scrubs. I came back and she was ready.
“Baby, I strongly advise you take the drugs, it will help with the pain and delivery,” The Dr. was trying to wage a losing battle.
“I said no drugs.” I knew she didn't want drugs; we talked about this over and over. She always won. Baby didn't want the drugs, she said with everything she has been through, child birth wasn't going to hurt as much as losing Sean.
“It's your choice, but if you want them tell me, I have them ready for you.”
I got in my position, standing to the left of her, when she said, “NO. I'm not pushing until Kyle's here.”
Knowing what this meant, I rushed out the room. Finding Kyle sitting in the chairs with Dad and Harris, “Come on Kyle, its time.” Following me back in I fell into position again, me on her left and Kyle on her right.
“Alright Baby, we can't wait anymore, this little one is ready. I need you to push and hold for ten seconds and then relax okay,” said the Dr.
Turning to watch her nod, I heard him say, “Push.” Counting to ten then say, “Relax.” I looked over to Kyle and could see that he was in pain, Baby's grip was deathly.
“Baby your doing so good, I'm proud of you,” wiping the sweat from her forehead.
“Alright just 2 more push's like that and the baby will be here,” the Dr. interrupted. “Ready for number two?”
Seeing that Baby was having trouble staying up, I moved behind her and let her rest on my chest. “Come on Baby, just a little bit more.” Kissing the side of her face.
Nodding her head the Dr. continued. “Push, Push, Push . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . Alright you can relax.”
Rubbing her back, I turned to look at Kyle, he was surprisingly quiet, but seeing the tears in his eyes, I knew what he was going through.
“Alright, Baby, I can see the head, just one more push to get the shoulders through and you're all done, okay.”
“Okay, ready, on three. One, two, three, PUSH . . . STOP . . . It's a boy!” And then we heard the most precious sound in the world, he cried.
The nurse quickly took the baby to get cleaned off. I kissed her cheek and turned to Kyle, “SON . . . I HAVE A SON!”
Looking back at Baby, I wiped my tears and I moved to get a better look at her face, “Baby, you hear that, a son, you were right. Baby, BABY.” Hearing no answer, I moved out from under her, “SHE'S NOT BREATHING!”
The Dr. rushed over and pushed me out of the way. I moved to the corner, but was being pushed towards the door by a nurse. “Mr. Guerin, you have to let us work, your wife is going to be fine, but please let us work.”
“NO, I'M NOT LEAVING; I WON'T BE IN THE WAY.”
“Mr. Guerin, please.”
“NO! I'M NOT LEAVING HER.” A security guard came up behind me and tried to pull me away, but I pushed harder. Another came and they both dragged me out of the room, and stood in front of the door. I sat down in the middle of the floor and cried. People kept coming in and out of her room, but no one would stop to talk.
Kyle had talked to Dad and Harris, telling them what happened. Over hearing their conversation, I got up and punched the concrete wall, I knew I broke some bones, but never made a sound. Getting my point across they moved away from me and wouldn't dare come close.
I sat there, in the chairs in front of my wife's room watching people come in and out. After an hour the Dr. came out and finally spoke, “Michael.”
Jumping up, I stood in front of him, Kyle standing next to me, “How's Baby?”
“She's stable, with the stress from the delivery, her heart stopped. We got it beating again and she was given some medication that will make her sleep. She couldn't deliver the placenta; we had to remove it surgically. Everything went well and she will be able to have many more children. I can't say what damage was done to her heart, but I did contact her cardiologist and he is on his way. We will know more, when he gets here.”
“What about my son?”
“Perfect. 11 pounds, 6 ounces, very healthy. Would you like to meet him?”
“No, my family can, I want to wait for Baby, can I see her?”
“Yes, I don't know how long she will be out; we are waiting on a room for her.”
Nodding my head I walked in into the room. Immediately grabbing her hand I placed a kiss on her forehead, and rested my head on her chest. I stayed like that until they came to move her. I never dropped her hand, even when we placed her into her bed. I sat in the chair next to her bed and resumed my position.
I had fallen asleep, but woke up immediately when Baby ran her fingers threw my hair. Looking up at her, I started to cry.
“Baby, please don't cry, I'm okay.”
“I lost you again.”
“No you didn't, you could never loose me.” She moved over offering me the opened space, I crawled in bed with her and held her crying. “The baby?”
“He's good, healthy. 11 pounds 6 ounces”
“Yeah, you were right, it's a boy.”
“Have you seen him?”
“No I wanted to wait for you, so we could see him together.”
“I want to see him, now.”
Turning to reach for the call button, I pressed it and waited. A nurse immediately came in, “Yes.”
“We would like to see our son.”
“Of course, Mr. Guerin, let me get the doctor then I will bring in the child.”
I nodded my head and she left, not 5 seconds later the doctor came in, “Mrs. Guerin, I'm glad to see your awake, how are you feeling? Any discomfort?” He came towards the bed to check her sheet, I moved to get off the bed but he stopped me, “No, your fine.”
I moved off the bed anyway, “I'm going to find the guys, I'll be right back.”
Giving her a soft kiss on the lips and squeezing her hand, I stepped out of the room, to find Kyle, Harris and Dad. Not having to walk far, they were standing right in front of me. “Baby's awake.”
“Good, how she feeling?” Dad asked.
“She say's she's okay, just wants to see the baby.”
“Yeah, he's beautiful, we were watching through the window,” said Harris.
I moved to Kyle and placed my hand on his shoulder squeezing, “You okay?”
“Shouldn't I be asking you that?”
“I'm great now, will be excellent as soon as I see them together. Now how are you?”
Seeing the doctor walk out of the room, I turned around and lead the guys in. Resuming my position on the bed I asked Baby, “What did he say?”
“Nothing really, still wanting on the cardiologist.” She turned to look at the guys, “Kyle, come here.” He walked over quickly and fell into Baby's open arms. Hearing his muffled cry's I placed my hand on his back and gently rubbed.
Hearing the nurse come, breaking up the moment she cleared her throat. I moved off the bed, picked up my son and walked back over to Baby, placing him in her arms, getting readjusted on the bed I moved behind her to accommodate Kyle. The three of us were sitting on the bed in awe of this small miracle. Kyle on the right holding his hand, I was on the left touching his forehead and Baby was sitting in the middle holding our son tightly to her chest. Faintly in the background I heard a camera click.
“He's perfect,” Kyle managed to choke out.
“He's big,” I replied.
“Well, he gets that from his father.” It amazes me how Baby can always find a joke, in a serious moment. “What's today? The date I mean.”
Without even looking at his watch Harris replied, “October 30 th .”
“What was the time?”
I answered immediately, “2:22 a.m.” Seeing where Baby's train of thought was, I kept quiet, waiting for the others to catch up.
Kyle was the first to answer, “Six months to the day.” Looking up from the baby, Kyle looked Baby in her eyes, “Do you think maybe this is his way of saying something?”
Harris and Dad seemed to realize what we were talking about after Kyle's comment. Dad was never good at History so I knew he would ask, “What's Samhain?”
Knowing that Baby was the only one that knew enough of Celtic history to explain it we all turned towards her. Feeling 8 eyes watching her she looked up and then back to our son, “Samhain, is a Celtic holiday, meaning ‘All Hallowtide'. Or ‘The Feast of the Dead', it's when the dead revisit the mortal world.” Looking up to face us she continued. “When the Catholic Church became more prominent in their culture, they moved the day to November 1 st and called it ‘All Saints Day' or what the Irish call, ‘All Hallows Day', which established ‘All Hallows Eve' now known as Halloween.” Seeing our confused faces, she summed it up. “Basically it's when the dead walk the earth for 3 days, the Eve of Halloween, Halloween and All Saints Day, to be with their loved ones.”
“How do you know this?” Asked my father, now I know why Baby always gets flustered with me when I ask too many questions.
Before she could answer Harris did, “My father.” He turned his head to my Dad and continued, “My father, Baby's grandfather, was born and raised in Ireland. He tried to teach all of us about our culture when we moved here to the States, we didn't listen. But when Baby was born, he would tell her stories about the homeland and teach her Gaelic, her first word was seanathair, grandfather.”
“Older father,” Baby corrected.
Ignoring her Harris continued, “When she was about 6 he started giving her lessons. She was the only one that was interested and he loved to teach her. Baby knows everything and anything about Irish-Gaelic history, and speaks it fluently.”
“So in all your studies, did you discuss names? Or is this little one going to be referred to as Baby Boy Guerin for the rest of his life?”
“You know, now I know where Michael gets it from, it's you,” Everyone chuckled at, “actually no studies on it, but after looking at this little guy, I have an idea for a name.”
My ears perked up at that, curious as to what my wife had in mind. “I know I want him to have a part of Sean's name, but I don't know the rest.” After the words left her mouth she looked around the room and focused on mine, seeing the tears there I could do nothing but hold her.
It was the first time we have used his name out loud and even though the pain was still there, if felt good to hear it. Looking over at Kyle I could tell he was feeling the same way. Baby always had a way of putting it out there and I loved her for it.
Kyle finding his words managed to say, “I think that's appropriate, but which one?”
Taking one last look around the room, and taking a minute to look at Kyle and then me, her eyes fell back on our son before saying, “Gabriel Christopher Alexander Guerin. That way he has something from each of us.”
After hearing Baby say the name, Kyle and I began to start openly crying. For the first time since Sean's death they were tears of joy and not misery.
You would think with Harris being a Veteran of war, an ex Marine and a Police Officer he would be smarter then the rest of us but no he was confused, “Each of you?”
Taking a minute to collect herself and pass the baby to me, she sat up and answered, “Yes each of us.”
“What about you?”
“Well I did give him a home inside of me for 10 months. But aside from that my last name is Guerin and I wanted to give him something from each one of my boys. When Gabriel grows up he will learn the importance of his name.”
“Do you know what his name means?”
I knew what Harris was talking about, there was no need to question him, but my Dad did, “What does it mean?”
Seeing no one else speak up I did, “God's protector and defender of mankind.” Turning to Baby, I could see a smile on her face, realizing I was looking at her it got bigger, “What?”
“Sort of, but not quite.”
“Okay then Miss I know everything, tell me.”
“First of all I don't know everything and you know that, I happened to read a lot and unlike you I comprehend what I read. Secondly, I was going to tell you but your being an ass, so forget it.”
Before I got to reply to her playful remark Kyle answered, “Gabriel means ‘Man of God', but he was also an Archangel that fell from Heaven because of his sins and was refused from hell because of his good heart, so he walked the earth masked as an Angel protecting people. Christopher was a Saint, a Patron Saint of Children actually. He was known to help children through hard times by befriending them and giving them assistants in life when an obstacle arose, he protected those children until they joined him in heaven, giving the name of ‘defender of mankind.' And Alexander was a solider that died in Ireland during the Great War. Because he was a ‘Great Protector' he was elected General and later was named ‘A Great Wise Protector.' Alexander was also the 6 th Pope and the only one to have suffered a martyr's death by decapitation.” Everyone looked at Kyle amazed that he knew that, seeing that we were stunned he added, “What I do read and I do comprehend what I read. Besides, I got the book from your personal library.”
The nurse walked in again clearing her throat, halting any further discussion, “Mrs. Guerin, would you like to try and breast feed or should I take the baby for his bottle?”
“I want to feed him.” Everyone taking a hint left the room with promises to come back later, Baby, Gabriel and I remand.
I stayed seated behind Baby when she offered her breast to Gabriel. He latched on immediately. I couldn't stop my hand from reaching out and touching him. My fingers made a path from forehead to cheek, to chin and back up again, his skin was so soft, it reminded me of Baby's.
Baby rested her head on my shoulder and leaned in to my neck; I wrapped my arms around both of them and enjoyed the moment. Minutes passed until Baby spoke up, “He's got your hair.”
Looking at Gabriel, he did have my hair, a light shade of brown, thick and unrulely, “Yeah, but you love my hair, beside he's got your nose.”
“Thank God, I couldn't have handled him going through life with your nose, the torture the kids on the playground would give him.” I couldn't take it anymore; I pulled her face to me and kissed her, with all that was in me and more. Pulling away she added, “We will finish that later.”
“O you bet your ass we will finish that.”
Gabriel was starting to get fussy, so Baby switched breast. “It's like looking in the mirror isn't.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“He looks exactly like you. Gabriel has your hair, eyes, high forehead, lips, hands; it's like a mini Michael.”
We fell into a comfortable silence, each processing the fact that we created this new life out of our love. I knew it when I first set my eyes on her when we were kids that she would be the only one for me. And after that first kiss in 4 th grade, I felt my dreams become reality. It wasn't until after our first time, our freshman year, that I saw our future children enter the picture making my reality dreams again. But today their no longer dreams, its real and I'm looking at it.
Later on that day Baby's cardiologist came and after running tests found out that she had developed LQTS. Long QT Syndrome is rare but is inherited and sometimes is fatal. It's when your heart's electrical system shuts down. LQTS has no symptoms and only shows up in times of physical or emotion stress, it begins with fainting and then a very fast, irregular heartbeat. It can be treated with medication.
After a week in the hospital we were finally going home.
“Are we ready?” Kyle asked walking down the hospital hall.
“Yeah, Baby's with the doctors one last time going over the medications.”
“Why aren't you in with her?”
“I just stepped out to get some forms when I spotted you; the nurse is collecting some things for the first couple days for us. Did you do what I told you to do?” After Gabriel was born I sent Kyle home with a list of stuff that needed to be done.
“Yes, you have a new mattress and sheets. I cleaned the house all last night. Stopped and got massive amounts of diapers, wipes, nips, blankets, clothes, everything that was on that baby will need list is done.”
With everything that had happened after Sean and then with Kyle, we didn't have time to shop for all of the baby things, Scottie, was letting us borrow the big necessities until Baby was up to going out and shopping. “Thank you.”
The doctors walked out of the room and turned to talk to me, Kyle went forward into the room to give us some privacy. “Mr. Guerin, your wife is in excellent condition giving everything that has happened during this pregnancy and delivery. She will need to take this medication twice a day for the rest of her life. If she misses a dose it will affect her. Baby also needs to see me twice a month now, her appointments 2 weeks from today and I will call to remind you later. Congratulations again, Michael.”
“Thank you,” nodding the cardiologist walked away and Baby's OB/GYN stepped up.
“Michael, Gabriel and Baby are doing great. I checked her again and the stitches are healing fast and the internal exam was normal. She will have trouble moving around for the next week or so, if she experiences any pain she can take some Tylenol. And if it gets worse please call me. Baby and Gabriel both have an appointment next week. And Michael, no sex, I mean it. She needs to heal we'll talk about that more after next week. I also checked the medication that she needs to take for her heart, it won't affect her milk so don't worry. If there is any problems or you need anything please call me, you have my home number.”
“Thank you.” Walking into the room, I found Kyle sitting in the chair holding Gabriel and laughing, Baby was sitting on the bed watching them. Giving Baby a soft kiss on her lips, “Are we ready?”
“God yes, please take me out of here.” Baby always hated hospitals and this time was not an exception.
“Then what are we waiting for?” Kyle handed Gabriel over to me and grabbed Baby's bags. I took her hand and walked out of the room, down the hall and out the hospital door.
The car ride was quiet, Baby and Gabriel sat in the back and I sat in the front with Kyle driving. The radio was softly playing a rock song, and suddenly changed to a classic rock station on its own. Immediately the song was recognized, turning to look at their faces, I could see they were thinking the same thing. It was a message that everything was going to be okay because Sean was watching over us.
If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now
‘Cause there's too many places I've got to see
But, if I stayed here with you, girl
Things just couldn't be the same
‘Cause I'm a free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change
Lord knows, I can't change.
Bye, Bye, Baby it's been a sweet love
Though this feeling I can't change.
But please don't take it so badly,
‘Cause Lord knows I'm to blame.
But, if I stayed here with you girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
‘Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you'll never change.
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.
Lord help me, I can't change.
Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
8 Months Later
It's been 14 months since Sean's death. This last year has been full of every emotion known to man as well as some, I didn't even know existed. But since Gabriel's birth it's been a new beginning for us. We've learned to appreciate life again and to no longer take it for granted. Between the midnight feedings the endless changing of diapers and lack of sleep we've moved past misery and into acceptance.
Kyle has returned to school, technically he never attended. He was accepted but when it came time for registering for classes he was to far gone to care. But now he has registered for the summer semester in hopes to get a jump start in catching up to his graduating class. Kyle decided not to move onto campus he hasn't come out and said it but we both know he doesn't want to stray too far. So he's commuting 5 hours round trip between home and school.
Baby has been to busy with Gabriel to worry about her future. Well that was until a month ago. She came home one day with a booklet of information from our local state college. That night she sat up reading over everything, the next morning I woke up to her filling out the college application. She received a letter yesterday congratulating her on her acceptance.
Gabriel 8 month's old and he's doing excellent. He's crawling all over the place and he's just about to take his first step soon. He also has started eating normal food, its mush but normal food, his favorite is green beans. Gabriel also sleeps thru the night now and he's even beginning to try and say new words. He makes noise and sounds but he can't come out and say ‘Mama' and ‘Dada', just yet. Everything comes out in vowels “A” for Mama and “Da” for Dada, which makes Baby excited because “Da” is Gaelic for Daddy. Gabriel looks like me more and more everyday. Baby has dug out a picture of me when I was Gabriel's age, we could be identical twins.
Me, well I've got some news that I hope doesn't destroy my family. I just hope that they understand why I need to do this.
“I've got to tell her. O don't you even look at me like that, I know I'm a bastard but I'm only doing this for her and you.” I picked up Gabriel and placed him in his high chair and continued, “Your Mama is a strong woman, she's survived many things, this time it's no different. I know she will be okay . . . I know she will.”
“Honey I'm home,” Baby said while walking through the door.
Turning around and walking towards her, quickly taking the bag out of her hand and dropping it by the door, I grabbed her hand and lead her to the dining room table.
“What do you mean, what's wrong, nothing's wrong,” I said while trying to conceal my cracking voice.
“Liar, the last time you cooked dinner was 8 months ago. And let's not forget, you only cook when you've got something on your mind. So why don't you just spill it already.”
Muttering more to myself then anyone else I say, “Damn it, I hate it when she does that.”
Baby obviously hearing me added, “Shut up and just tell me.”
Trying to change the subject before I get her even more pissed off, “Sit down before dinner gets cold.”
“Michael, please just tell me,” Baby pleads.
“I will, but first tell me about the Doctors appointment.” Looking over at her, I could see that she's about to attack.
“Hey guys, did I miss dinner?” In walked Kyle saving me from my death.
“No come sit down, we just started.” After sitting down and helping himself to a huge plate of lasagna, “I was just asking Baby about her appointment.” Baby's not been feeling well lately, she's been having a lot of headaches and trouble keeping food down. After a week of arguing with her we finally convinced her that she needed to go, so whatever she had didn't get to Gabriel.
“I will tell you what he said after I hear what you have to say.”
“No, I asked first.”
“Damn it Michael, stop being a child I know that you have something to say, so just fucking come out and say it already!”
“STOP IT! You're both being childish why don't you both just say whatever it is at the same time.”
“That's a bit childish, don't you think Kyle?”
“Not anymore then what you're doing now, so just do it, I'll count it off.” Looking over at Gabriel and then over to Baby, I nodded my head in agreement. “Okay on 3, ready?”
“Yes,” we both answered at the same time.
“Okay, 1 . . . 2 . . . 3”
“I joined the Marines.”
Maybe a trilogy?