After Chris’ mum left, I remained frozen where I stood for a while, my chest heaving with pent-up rage.
Throughout the exchange between Chris’ mother and myself, C.G’s doctor had not intervened, but now he stepped forward and gently laid a hand on my shoulder. “Please sit down, Stephanie; it’s over now,” he said softly.
While it was in no way “over” for me, with the main source of my fury having left the room, the fight went out of me, and my shoulders slumped as I backed down, and following his instructions, sat down at the foot of C.G’s bed.
With me under control for the moment, he turned to Chris.
“Please give us a few minutes, Chris,” he requested pointedly, and after a moment’s hesitation, Chris too did as he was bade and left the room.
“You’re probably thinking you should have insisted on that sedative after all,” I began wryly once we were alone, then went on apologetically, “I’m sorry I lost it - she just makes me so mad!”
“It’s alright; you’re angry and you have every right to be - anyone in your position would feel the same. However, right now, you need to save your energy for your son, and not your mother-in-law, no matter how provocative she gets.
I’m going to have a word with her and Chris, stressing that as C.G’s doctor, I’m not going to allow any agitation or tension around him. We only allow one caretaker to stay overnight, and since Chris has already had his, I’ll also recommend that he takes a break and leaves that slot to you for now. That should keep the peace for now as long as you promise to do your part at keeping things civil as well.”
“I will,” I promised, then added gratefully; “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” he smiled.
For a second it looked like he was going to add something, but apparently changing his mind, he instead excused himself, saying he was going to find Chris and his mother, and that he would be back to check on C.G later.
When Chris returned to the room almost an hour later, his mother was thankfully not with him.
“How is he doing?” he asked quietly, while pulling up the chair his mother had been using.
I ignored him.
“I’ve been talking to the doctor; he says we should keep the peace for C.G’s sake - I agree with him,” he tried again.
I maintained my stony silence, my gaze fixed firmly on C.G who was still asleep. He sighed and stretched out a hand towards mine across C.G’s bed, and only then did I respond as I drew back out of his reach.
“Don’t! If you want to ‘keep the peace’, don’t touch or talk to me, and the same goes for your mother!” I snapped.
He sighed but obediently withdrew his hand, and after a few seconds spoke again.
“I didn’t know he was going to get this sick; I thought he was going to get better - that’s why I didn’t call.”
His tone was low, apologetic, and genuine, but with my son lying with an oxygen mask on his face, unable to stay conscious for more than a few minutes at a time, I could not find it within myself to grant him the forgiveness I knew he was asking for. I resumed my stony silence.
After a few minutes, he gave up, sensing that he wasn’t going to make any headway, and bent over C.G to plant a kiss on his forehead before quietly leaving the room.