Title: Perfect Stranger
My life has gone from being so wonderful to being horrible in just a few hours. I am now sitting in an airport waiting for a family I don't know to come find me. My sign says “Keegan's”. I don't want to be here. I want to be home…no I want to be over Alex's eating breakfast and making love. Elizabeth is there cleaning up and making the place look presentable since I had to rush out here. I want to curl up in a ball and die. However, Alex needs me more now than ever so I can't.
“Excuse me…are you Susan Louis?” I look up into the green eyes of an older version of Alex. I stand up, “Yes hi. You must be Alex's parents.”
“I'm Carol and this is Bill. It's a pleasure to meet you, although I wish it could be under different circumstances. What can you tell me about her condition?”
Carol looks like she could be a very huggable person, and Bill looks like the kind of father who would build a tree house for his kid. These are not parents who should be going through their child having cancer and they should not be meeting their daughters girlfriend under these circumstances. I feel like shit just for being the healthy one. I lead them to my car and outline the process the doctors are going to take. It involves Bone Marrow, then Chemo and by the sounds of it a lot of pain, and baldness. She will need someone there with her at all times and since I can't be there I am hoping they will be. I don't want her to be alone. When I finish talking about her needing help Carol smiles. “Well don't you worry, dear. Bill and I will be here to help out as much as we can, but that doesn't mean we don't want you around either.”
“Thank you Mrs Keegan.”
“Oh now come on…you can call me Carol. And this is Bill.” She's said this already and it just shows me how upset they are.
“So how did you catch it anyway?”
“Well…we were…I found a bruise that couldn't be explained so I made her go to the hospital.”
“Oh I don't want to think about what would have happened if you didn't catch it.”
I stop talking then because frankly I don't want to think about it either. I focus on driving, but I think I just have one of those doctor radars that get me to the hospital automatically. I don't remember how I get there, just that I do without killing someone. We go into the er and I find Kerry. She sees me and goes over right away. “Hey they didn't move her up yet, but they should be here soon. She's in with Abby right now.” Kerry touches my arm in a way I've only seen her do for patients. It makes me feel good. I lead Carol and Bill to Alex's curtain and when we go in she looks up and smiles. I can see she has been crying though. I go over and take her hand and her parents go to the other side of the bed. “Hey baby. How are you feeling.”
“Mum…Daddy. I'm scared.”
Her father speaks up, “We know you are Honey, but the doctors are going to fix you up and we're going to stay for as long as it takes okay?”
Alex nods. Then she says, “Did you have any trouble finding Susan?”
“No, none at all.”
I start to feel out of place. So I tell Alex I'm going to let her talk to her parents, give her a kiss and make my way to the lounge. I sit on the couch and the floods open up. I sob and heave and cough. I feel like I can never stop, that I will never see happiness again unless Alex is better. I become mad at the forces that sent her to me and then made her sick. I become mad at myself for letting this get to me so and it makes me cry harder. I feel like I'm going to die, and hope I do so then if she dies we'll be together. The door opens and I put up a big fight to stop crying, then wonder why I should because my girlfriend is sick and I should be allowed to cry. The person who just came in has not said anything so I look up. Through my tears I see a beautiful blonde standing in the doorway. It takes me a minute to realize this is Dr. Legaspi. She sees that I am looking at her and speaks, “Hi Dr Louis…Ker-Dr Weaver called me down to talk to you.”
I look at her in surprise. Kerry called a psych consult for me. The nerve. “Oh that's okay, I'm fine really…”
“Look I'm sure you are, but I know what it's like to have someone you love sick. If you ever need to talk about anything just come and find me.” I nod and she makes her way to the door. She is almost there when I yell, “Wait.” She turns around and looks at me with this look, and I know why Kerry likes her now. “Um…could you…sit with me…please?” Kim smiles and comes over to sit next to me. I start to talk nonsense about everything that has been bothering me since I found out Alex was sick. Suddenly I have to be the strong one and I know I can't do that. I feel in the way with her family. Do I sleep at home or can I sleep at her house? Do I have to leave the hospital? What if I can't see her? Kim smiles again and manages to answer my questions. “Sometimes even if you don't feel strong, being there makes you the strong one. Her family knows how much you care about her and so will not let you feel left out. It might be a good idea to sleep home, at least until everyone is comfortable with the situation. You don't have to leave the hospital, but I will be making sure you sleep even if it's down here. And we'll make sure you can see her.”
I thank Kim. Then I stand up and make my way out of the lounge and back to my girlfriend. Alex is asleep when I get there. Her parents are gone, but I'm not sure where they are. I go find Kerry and see her looking at a chest film. “Why haven't they taken her up yet?” Kerry jumps and turns around. “Susan…you shouldn't do that to someone.”
“Yeah, why haven't they taken Alex up yet.”
“They're coming soon. You have to calm down a little.”
“Calm down? CALM DOWN? My girlfriend is in agony and nobody is doing anything. And you want me to calm down? Where are her parents?”
“They're being tested for bone marrow transplants.”
“Well okay. At least something's getting done.” I storm away and go back in with Alex. She looks so small laying there. I bring a chair over and sit down, put my head on her chest and close my eyes. If I try really hard I can pretend we are back home and I am just sleeping on her chest. I feel her instinctively put her arm on me and soon am asleep.