Jon called leaving me a frantic message: ‘NEENE! I have been calling you for over half an hour! The office said you are gone on Wednesday afternoons for at least two hours and they couldn’t reach you! This is my fifth CALL! Come to University Hospital as soon as you get this message. JD’s been in a terrible accident.’ He whispered the last sentence as if saying it any louder, would make it true – but it had already come to pass.
I was in the gym’s shower when he was called, removing traces of lust, getting my head together to return to the land of the righteous. When I finally arrived at the emergency room, there was no time for me to wallow in my humiliation. The stark walls and piney disinfectant smells blinded my senses and numbness washed over me. I felt underwater; I saw nurses’ lips moving but sound escaped my ears. Those white-coated messengers of doom came toward me, but all I remember is seeing Robert’s face like in a dream, then darkness… I awoke from my dead faint on arrival with a nurse waking me, syringe in hand.
Her name-tag read Marjorie so I said, “Nurse Marjorie, what is going on here?!”
“Mrs. Dupont, your son needs transfusions that will surpass our stores of his blood type by tomorrow, so we need to take some blood for testing, we are taking blood from your husband, yourself, as well as Mr. Matthews who so graciously volunteered to donate,” she said almost too happily. “It will take at least 24 hours or so for us to know the matches, but we will be using what reserves we have of his blood type in the meantime.”
“Okay,” I said slowly wondering what Robert was doing here at all, much less offering up his blood to be matched to my son’s. I wonder if he had been in to see Jon Jr. and hoped he felt as if since we were such good friends at one time, it was only right. We have had no contact in over 18 years, so if he even suspected anything, he would have said something years ago.
“Well, Robert, this is not the setting I thought we would meet again. How have you been?” I said quietly thinking back to my dead faint at seeing his face.
“I have been fine, Neene. Your son is a beautiful kid. Does he play any sports?” Robert said with a smile in his voice.
“Yes, JD plays basketball. Just like Jon,” I replied smiling to mask my annoyance. Where was he going with this?
“Neene, Robert and I were together when I got the call, so he came along to support me. I was a wreck, so he drove,” Jon said in an attempt to explain Robert presence.
“It was hard for me to drive here by myself,” I said shaking my head and thinking back to my journey to the hospital. “My vision was so blurry from crying, I had to pull over and call Monique. I told her that her Godson was in a car crash we cried, then prayed together – that got me back on the road. I feel so horrible for not being able to answer my phone!” I said then began sobbing uncontrollably.
“Its okay baby, come here; it’s okay. You’re here now,” Jon said as he pulled me close to him and brushed my hairline with mouth. “I was getting paranoid thinking maybe you had been in an accident yourself! I was so glad when you got here in one piece, but you scared the crap out of me with your fainting like that! Are you alright?”
“Yes honey, I think I’m just drained from the workout and then the trauma of hearing about JD. Have you seen him? Is he awake yet?” I asked quickly hopping up off the gurney and reaching for Jon leading him towards Jon Jr’s room.
“I looked in on him but he’s not awake yet.” Jon said gently, stopping me just outside the room. “Baby, he is in an induced coma because of the loss of his foot.” Jon said quietly.
Shocked, I allowed the tears flowed down my face unchecked. Jon pulled me close allowing my deep heart-wrenching sobs drench his baby blue button down. Rubbing my back and murmuring softly, he held me and let the torrent pass. All I could think about was Jon Jr.’s dreams of NBA super stardom being horribly destroyed.
“I think I am going to go ahead and leave now” Robert said, clearly uncomfortable. “I will send someone to drop off your car to your house later today, okay Jon?”
“Sure,” Jon stated over my head as he handed Robert the keys to his 745 BMW, “Don’t forget that we need to meet next week, aight?”
“Got it man. Don’t hesitate to call me if you need me anytime, day or night. Neene, I pray everything works out for your son babe. Sorry to come back into your lives at such an terrible time.”
“Thank you for offering to donate blood for Jon Jr., Robert. Hopefully, his recovery will be swift and we will all be able to go out to dinner and talk about better times,” I said quietly without moving my face from Jon’s chest – it felt safe there.
Jon and I turned to go into Jon Jr.’s room to talk to the doctors assembled there and see what our next steps would be. Walking into the room, I instantly felt claustrophobic, there were three doctors crowded around his bed; one examining his leg, another perusing his chart and yet another watching us walking into the room. One started to speak, but I was completely oblivious.
“Jon’s progress is great at this time. We are sure that he will recover nicely and we have a rehabilitation specialist, Kirk Jones already lined up for him upon his release in a few weeks,” the doctor who was watching us started hurriedly. I guess she could see the shock on my face, but didn’t know I mentally checked out; I didn’t hear a word she said.
My beautiful boy laid there scratches and cuts imbedded into his smooth café au lait face. His barely out of adolescence build; tall and gangly just like my dad at his age, seemed wrong without the other size 11 foot resting near the one he still possessed. His right arm was in a cast and his face swollen. I wanted to rush to his side, rub his curly ‘fro and tell him it would be alright as I had when he was a toddler, but aside from the assemblage at his bedside blocking my approach, I knew that things would never be the same.
I came back from my internal thoughts and realized that the doctors were telling Jon and I about Jr.’s condition and release.
“My name is Dr. Kennedy and I am the orthopedic surgeon who is working with your son. I understand this is a trying time Mrs. Dupont, but I need you to understand what is going on so that you can care for your son upon his release,” she stated while touching my arm to make sure she had my attention. I was still staring at Jon Jr. but I heard every word this time.
“I am listening Doctor,” I whispered.
“Good, he is going to wake up out of the induced coma sometime tomorrow and we want you guys to be the first faces he sees. Do you have other children?”
“Yes,” we said simultaneously.
“Well… Can there be some arrangements made for their care while you two hold vigil at his bedside?
“Their Godmother is going to pick our daughter up and take her home with her. Amber should be fine there with her God-sister and brother.”
“Great. That will give you some time to focus on your son, for a little while at least. He is going to need you guys to get him through this. I have seen cases where the person who loses a limb or extremity falls into a deep depression and never comes out, so we are going to try to bypass that by having you both here, showing him that you support and love him unconditionally. What do you think?”
“We are committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure our son does not have to feel like a he is less than who he was before this accident,” Jon said emphatically.
We decided to spend the night in the hospital and Jon would take the first shift awake while I ran home, got some clothing for us for a few days, checked on Amber and got us some food from his favorite soul food spot.
When I returned, I saw Jon asleep at Jon Jr.’s bedside, his eyebrows furrowed as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders and he did. I just said a little prayer that all I have done in the past 18 years wouldn’t come crashing down around us both.
“Jon, honey, you want something to eat love?” I said as I gently touched his shoulder.
He jerked like he had been electrocuted and I jumped! Then Jon said, “Oh! Baby, sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you. I was having a bad dream but now that I am awake, I see it wasn’t. Damn baby. I know he wasn’t drinking and he was by himself, so I am just wondering how he could have run the light and gotten hit by that truck. He is a great driver!”
“I don’t get it either JD. Where did the accident happen?”
“It happened somewhere near Perimeter Center. The doctor said it was about 12 – 12:30 this afternoon.”
“What was he doing down there at that time? He should have been in school, right? I know today wasn’t a half day – was it? Did he have his internship today?” I replied inquisitively. Something didn’t add up, not only was I down there around that time, I knew for sure that the didn’t have his internship or a half-day.
“We can figure out all of that later right now lets pray over our son”
“You are so right honey.” I acquiesced immediately loving how my husband loved God and knew what to do at this time. God knew I needed a private conference with Him right then, but I would have to keep that to myself.
We took each other’s hands, bowed our heads and Jon began to pray, “Father God, we come to you this evening in need of your mighty hand to touch our son. Father touch his spirit, touch his mind, guide the doctor’s hands so that they can heal him in your way God, which is a complete healing that only you can provide God….”
As he prayed, I went over the day in my head, wondering how it could all have gone so terribly wrong. While he prayed for our son’s swift recovery, I prayed that my scandalous behavior hadn’t culminated in my son’s demise.
Jon finished praying and noticing the tears on my face, he wiped them and said, “Honey, don’t worry. What ever lies ahead we can face it and overcome it together.”
Inside, I cringed. I just hoped that he would find it in his heart to forgive me if the need arose. God knows I have forgiven him for enough… We spent the night on that rickety cot, spooned together, feeling like survivors of the Titanic; clinging to each other for safety and sanity’s sake.
The next morning we awoke and went to the hospital café for breakfast. When we returned with our coffee Nurse Marjorie greeted us. “Good Morning, Mrs. Dupont. Mr. Dupont,” Nurse Marjorie nodded towards Jon, then furtively came closer to me and stated, “Do you know your blood type Mrs. Dupont?”
“Yes, My blood type is B-. We give blood to the Red Cross at my job twice a year,” I said quietly.
“B-? Are you sure? I only ask because your husband’s blood type is AB, which doesn’t match with your son’s blood type, which is 0+. I thought perhaps we had made a mistake with processing…,” her rambling trailed off.
It felt like the air was sucked out of the room. I looked around rapidly, eyes bouncing off the walls, avoiding Jon’s at all costs while blinking back tears that I hoped they thought were circumstantial.
Meanwhile, a perturbed Nurse Marjorie, tried to take the blame by stating, “We tend rush with ICU cases and things get mixed up, so let’s not…” but couldn’t downplay the meaning of this new fact. Neither of us matched.
Tanefa Wallace © 2010