When I came to my senses, it was my hearing that returned first.
“Stephanie, can you hear me? Stephanie. Stephanie,” C.G’s doctor was calling my name, his voice sounding like it was coming from far off, yet I could feel his hands lightly shake me.
Slowly, I managed to open my eyes, and for a few seconds, everything was hazy before it cleared, and I could see both C.G’s doctor and Chris standing over me.
“There you are; you had us worried for a second,” C.G’s doctor said in relief, then went on with concern: “How are you feeling?”
“Dizzy. What happened?” I asked, still feeling weak and disoriented.
“You had a bad shock; just relax for a while.”
At his words and sympathetic tone, I remembered what the ‘bad shock’ was.
“C.G? I asked hopefully, for though my eyes were already filling up with tears again, my mind was still running to the hope that maybe there had been some sort of mistake, that this was all some sort of bad dream that I just had to wake from.
“Stephanie, please; I know this is hard, and you’re hurting. We all are, but I need you to try to take it easy, or you’ll make yourself ill as well. I’m going to give you something to make you sleep, so you can just rest for a while; alright?”
I knew he was referring to the sedative he had tried to administer when I had first arrived at the hospital; then I had resisted him over it, saying I did not need it, but now I actually wanted him to give it to me.
“Alright,” I nodded almost eagerly.
I hoped he gave me an overdose, so that I could sleep and escape from the reality around me, the reality of C.G’s death, forever. I did not want to be here, in this hospital, with C.G dead, Chris crying, and the doctor looking at me with a mixture of pity and concern.
I wanted to go away, I wanted to just close my eyes and die. Thankfully the sedative worked and I blacked out for close to four hours.
I had always thought that the brain shut down completely while under sedation, but even when asleep, there was no escape from my nightmare, for I still saw C.G in my mind’s eye.
I saw him as a baby, when I had just had him and thought he was the most beautiful baby ever; I saw him as a toddler, wobbling as he took his first steps; and the cute way he tottered when he ran.
I remembered how his entire face lit up when he smiled, and the tinkling giggle in his laugh. I remembered how easy it was to make him happy, and how innocent and genuine his happiness had always been.
Memories from different times of our lives together flashed through my drugged mind like a movie reel, ending with how sick and frail he had looked in his hospital bed, and how helpless I had felt as I saw him slip further and further away, unable to do anything to make him better. When I woke up, my cheeks were wet with tears.
Looking around, I saw that Chris’ mother had arrived while I slept and was now sobbing quietly in the corner of the room, Chris’ arms wrapped around her, rocking her gently.
Although he had his back to me, he seemed to sense that I was awake, and releasing his mother, he turned towards me.
When our eyes met, he got up and came to me.
“I’m so sorry, Stephanie; I’m so sorry,” he sobbed.
For a few seconds, I simply stared at him in confusion; what exactly was he asking of me? How did he expect me to respond to his apology?
This man had kept my son from me, and now he was dead – what did he want me to say? Finally, in response, I rolled over to face the wall.
“Stephanie, please,” he begged.
I squeezed my eyes shut, and covered my ears with my inner forearms.