Wednesday, September 15, 2010

129.) A Little Closer

I was scared. First of all, Jo’s orders had scared the shit out of me. When she said “emergency,” I had no idea what she meant. I didn’t know what had happened, but I was worried; something could’ve been wrong with her or Samantha, or any number of other things. I panicked.

I was still worried. Admittedly, I don’t know much about giving birth or babies, but I knew that Samantha wasn’t full term. While Samantha had been wheeled back to a room and Brandy dutifully followed as her legal guardian, Jo, Rob, and I stood and listened to the doctor explain that while thirty-two weeks was less than ideal, there was a ninety-five percent survival rate for the fetus. For Brianna. That made me feel a little better. I hoped that they could have given her something to stop her from going into labor, but apparently it was too late once her water broke. At that point, there’s no going back.

Everyone was so worried that they didn’t even notice I was there, or at least they didn’t care. Rob paced the floor and talked on his cell. The hospital staff was giving him angry looks, but he was far too absorbed in what he was doing. I could piece together what was going on well enough to know that he was talking to someone back home about contacting the baby’s father. Rob kept saying that he should be there, since they didn’t know what was going to happen—that he deserved the right to know what was going on.

While he took care of that, I sat on the uncomfortable lounge furniture with Jo. She sat with her knees pulled up to her chest and her foot tapping sporadically. It was obvious how concerned she was. I put an arm around her and pulled her against me. It drove me nuts that I couldn’t do anything to help. All I could do was rub her back and say, “Don’t worry. The doctors will take care of her.”

Jo took a deep breath, pressing her face against my chest as she inhaled. Then she set her chin against me and looked up at my face. “What if something bad happens to the baby?”

“You can’t think like that,” I told her. “You’ve gotta be positive.”

There were tears in her eyes, threatening to spill over. “But, Kris, what if? That baby is more than just a baby to her. It’s her one tie to her boyfriend. It’ll devastate her. It’ll break her heart, and I can’t even imagine how she’ll be able to deal with it.”

“No, Jo, don’t think that.” I kissed her forehead and then her nose. She was so deeply worried about Samantha and Brianna, and it moved me. All I could think about was the Jo that I had met so many months ago—the girl who didn’t seem to have any bonds with anyone.

Jo felt things very intensely. It’s like her emotions were ten times stronger than whatever anyone else felt. She was fun and carefree and spirited, but her heart was so big. That’s why she had self-medicated herself with alcohol and drugs after her brother had died; it had hurt her so much that she couldn’t all that pain. Drinking was a coping mechanism because it numbed her.

Even now, when this crisis had nothing to do with her, she empathized with Samantha so much that she didn’t know how to handle her feelings. Now, since she didn’t turn to a substance for comfort, I had to try and help her through this. Once again, I felt helpless and impotent as I tried to soothe and calm her down—just like I had during so many painful times we had experienced together. I had I hugged her against my body as she sobbed, scared for the worst.

The time passed so slowly, dragging on and on as we waited for news. And we waited for hours. She exhausted herself with crying and fell asleep leaning against me; I couldn’t help but follow suit and nap, too. It was dark outside when we were finally woken up with the news that Samantha had to have an emergency C-section. Rob stopped his pacing, his face falling to the floor. If he had been worried before, that was nothing compared to what he was feeling now. Jo had tensed beside me, and I held onto her a little tighter as we were given the low-down.

Everything that the nurse was saying went right over my head. Something about the position of the baby, distress, but so far everything looked promising. Samantha was being stitched up while Brianna—who they only referred to as Baby Thompson—was taken to the NICU, whatever that was. Level two care. Three and a half pounds, which sounded so tiny to me, but the nurse said was big for that gestational age.

I really had no idea what was going on. Jo nodded as she soaked up the information. Rob looked a little relieved and asked immediately if he could see his niece. The nurse said that he could, just as soon as she was brought up from the operating room. She did tell us that we could look in at the NICU to see Baby Thompson.

That in itself was full of strange emotions. The special care nursery was scary. Babies were tied to machines and placed in incubators. The babies themselves were scary looking, because they didn’t look like typical, normal babies. They looked like aliens. Brianna had a little pink hat on, lying on a small, heated isolette. I wouldn’t have been able to pick her out except for the last name printed out above her station.

Jo was the first to speak out of the three of us. She put her fingers against the window glass and whispered, “So tiny.”

“I’m gonna go find Brandy,” Rob mumbled, heading away from the NICU. He had two kids of his own, but I guess it wasn’t an easy sight for even a seasoned father to see.

I stood behind Jo and wrapped my arms around her as she looked into the room. She was taking this really hard. I knew she was compassionate, but even this seemed a little extreme for her. “Are you okay?”

“I bet this isn’t how Samantha imagined her life going at all. You know? Pregnant at seventeen. Moved away from her home to live with family in another country. Separated from the father, the man she loved. And now this. I bet she can’t even hold her baby. If that were me, I....” Jo stopped and took a deep breath. Her fingers traced over my arms, which were still tightly around her. “Remember our, uh, ‘scare’?”

Clearing my throat, I answered only her question. I was over the lie and cover up, but it had been an emotional day for us and very raw. We had learned a lot about each other that day, but that didn’t mean I looked back upon it fondly. “Yeah, I remember.”

“For a few hours, I lived with the possibility that maybe I was... you know. And I couldn’t help but think about what was going to happen if, and I thought about all the different outcomes, you know, just in case. But never this. Nobody ever thinks about this.”

“No one ever wants to think about anything bad happening to their children. Especially during the pregnancy, because it’s such a special time.”

“How is she supposed to deal with this? She’s only seventeen still. I know I wouldn’t be able to handle it if anything like this would happen to Lucas James.”

For a moment, I stopped breathing. “Lucas James?”

“That’s what I would have wanted to name him.” She pulled away so she could turn and look up at me. “I just figured a boy, and well, I thought it might be weird for you to just call him ‘Luc,’ because I know I wouldn’t want to have another James. So that’s what I thought of.”

“I like it,” I replied, leaning down to kiss her. Even though I hadn’t imagined today going like this, at all, it felt like things were falling into place. The fog surrounding our future was starting to lift. There were things we were going to need to discuss, but those things could wait. Crises like this brought people together, and right now I was happy to be this close to my girlfriend. We had big plans together.

We hung around the hospital a little bit longer. Jo went in to see Samantha and find out how she was doing, and I lingered out in the lobby with Rob. He didn’t even seem to notice or care that I had been there at all—even though he had been so secretive and protective of Samantha and his family before. He never would have wanted any of this information to get out, but now he didn’t seem too worried about it. In fact, Bowlby may even have been a little relieved.

“It took a lot of arguing and fighting, but Brian’s flying down tomorrow,” he sighed. His eyes were bloodshot and tired looking. “The father.”

I didn’t say anything. What was I supposed to say anyway? Not only was I not supposed to know any of us this, but my opinion of how they handled this was very different than what had actually been done. He was my captain, though, and therefore unquestionable.

“I trust that you won’t say anything,” he finally added. It probably should have been a question, but I knew he wasn’t asking. “You know, with the parade tomorrow.”

“Of course.”

It was his turn to nod at me then. When Jo came out of the hospital room, she was followed by a nurse obviously shooing her out. Visiting times must have been ending; at this point, I had no idea what time it was, and my eyes couldn’t focus on the hands on my watch. Rob explained, “Brandy’s staying overnight, since Sam’s still considered a minor. I’ll take you guys back to your hotel. We have the clean out tomorrow morning before the parade.”

Bowlby dropped us off as promised, and Jo and I once again collapsed into bed, fully dressed, too exhausted to bother to do anything to get prepared for sleep. I curled up around Jo and she nestled into me, and we didn’t bother saying a word before mutually drifting off for our first real night of sleep in days.

The next day was just as hectic. The guys reconvened in the Shark Tank one last time. We got into our gear so we could take our formal team photo with the Cup. As quickly as we dressed in full equipment and uniform for one measly picture, we shucked off all our things and packed our equipment. We’d need it this summer to train on our own. I had to be very careful to make sure I truly had all my things, just in case I wouldn’t be back here the following season. I had every reason to think that the Sharks would like to keep me around, but I couldn’t be certain. I used to be certain that the Pens wouldn’t trade me.

There were a lot of year-end interviews, too. The questions were all the same, how it felt to win again, what I had planned for the summer, what I was going to do for my day with the Cup, how I felt about my RFA status.... I answered them all as politely as I could, acting each time like it was the first time I had been asked that.

After that came the parade. Parades are always fun. This one was different from what I had experienced in Pittsburgh, though. I didn’t get to ride in the car with Jo, like I had expected from last year’s celebratory march; instead, there was a roped-off section by the stage where friends and family got to sit while we were driven along the two-mile stretch of downtown.

Once the parade was over, my obligations in San José were finished. Now, it was time to leave behind all the stress had that accrued during my season and Jo’s semester. It was officially time to vacation and relax in a picturesque paradise.


  1. "Lucas James"? Their future falling into place?
    Can we be headed towards a happy ending?

    I like the way that Kris understands Jo, that her emotions are so intense and that's why she needed to dull them before. She's got a lovely child-like quality to her, which works well with Kris's protective nature. But of course, they work the best when there's give and take, and they both get to care for each other.

    A very nice post, despite the fact it was all in a hospital and I'm not really into anything medical! At least there wasn't any blood.

  2. Future casting moments. :)

    I can't wait for vacation!

  3. Great Chapter!!
    Can't wait for more and the vacation!
    Update soon :D

  4. oh my gosh, lucas james, so presh <3
    can't wait for their vacation!
    loved it!