Has Sarah deserved the right to see Dax again…
Dax’s Parents rush down the hallway toward Dax’s room. The Doctor cuts them off before they reach it. “Ok. Slow down. I know you’re excited, but we have to take it slow. Dax needs to stay relaxed. No further stress. He may have some patches of memory loss.”
Both his Mom and Dad nod. They compose themselves. The doctor smiles and steps out of the way.
Dax’s Parents ease into the doorway and peek in. Dax sits up in bed. They smile when he notices them.
Dax is glad to see their familiar faces. They walk over to give him a hug. Dax’s Mom fights the tears. “We’re so glad to see you awake.”
Dax sips on some ice water through a straw.
Dax’s Dad smiles with relief. “How are you feeling?”
Dax reaches for his bandages. “Besides this pounding in my head, I feel fine.” He smiles without a seeming care in the world. “They say I was in a car accident, but I don’t remember that. Guess it’s just as well.”
Dax’s Dad tries to conceal his concern. “How much have they told you about the accident?”
Dax takes another sip. “Not much. Where’s Sarah?”
Dax’s Dad and Mom look at each other.
Dax grows concerned. “She wasn’t in the car with me, was she? She’s alright isn’t she?” When he first groggily awoke, he was so out of sorts that he didn’t even consider that Sarah could have been with him. Let alone that she could be hurt. The monitoring systems start to beep as his heart rate escalates.
Dax’s Mom quickly works to get him calmer. “Sarah is fine dear. She wasn’t in the car.” His Mom puts a calming hand on his cheek. “She wasn’t there.”
Dax takes a deep breath and his heart rate stabilizes. The beeping stops. He looks at his parents. “Then where is she?”
Dax’s Mom and Dad continue to look puzzled. They’re not sure what to say. Dax’s Mom makes a quick decision. “She’s getting some rest. Poor thing almost fell down from keeping watch.” She convinced herself that she wasn’t really lying. The statements alone were true. They just weren’t being forthcoming with the rest.
Dax nods and takes another sip. “That makes sense.” But he can feel something is not right. He’s not sure what. His head feels fuzzy and his hands look different, almost older. And his parents look different. Since when did his Dad have gray hair? His Mom looks like she’s dying hers now. But it must be from the accident or he must not be remembering them right. When was the last time he saw them? All of these questions in his head are making him dizzy. He closes his eyes for a second.
His Mom looks concerned. “Are you okay?”
Dax silently nods but doesn’t open his eyes.
His Dad takes a step closer. “What’s the last thing you remember, Son?”
Now Dax looks puzzled. “I don’t know. It’s all fuzzy.”
Later in the MRI Viewing area, Dax’s Parents watch through the viewing glass as Dax is slid into the scanning tunnel up to his shoulders. The blue lights ebb and flow as the scan is in process.
They stand with the Doctor as he explains memory loss, while supervising the procedure. “Amnesia is not unusual in instances of such severe head trauma. Even selective amnesia. But it could also be more of psychological episode.”
Dax’s Mom grabs her husband’s arm for support. “Psychological?”
The scan completes its cycle in the other room and the Doctor turns to face them. “Post traumatic stress could trigger episodes of delusional behavior. And if that’s the case, I’d rather we not be in a rush to fill in the blanks for him. Not until we know more about his condition. His vitals are stable, but he’s still in a fragile state.”
Dax’s Dad watches them remove his son from the scanner. “What do you suggest we do?”
The Doctor puts a comforting hand on Dax’s Dad’s arm. “Play along.”
Dax’s Dad furrows his brow. He’s not sure that he’s fine with this course of action. “Lie to him? He doesn’t even know what happened to his wife.”
The Doctor knows it sounds harsh, but it’s necessary. “Do whatever it takes until your son is clearly on more stable ground.”
The Doctor enters the scan room to talk with Dax.
Dax’s Mom hugs her husband.
Sarah finally is able to remove herself from the table and cafeteria, where Dax’s Mom last saw her. She’s tangled in her own emotions. The fact that Dax is awake gives her peace beyond measure. She remembers the promise she made in the chapel, and wonders if God is going to hold her to it. Is she supposed to walk away now? Is that the deal? But just because he’s awake doesn’t mean that he’s fully okay. She supposes it would be okay to stick around on the sidelines just to be sure.
She walks the hallways aimlessly for quite awhile and finds herself on the third floor. She stops short and ducks behind a corner when she sees Dax being wheeled into his room. She has a good vantage point from where she stands.
She faintly hears Dax speak to his parents before he disappears into the room. “Where is she? Is she coming?” Sarah presses her back firmly against the wall out of sight. She breathes heavy and tears roll down her cheeks. Clearly he’s asking about Beth and they haven’t told him yet. She wishes she could take away that pain for him.
Inside the hospital room, the orderlies help Dax back into bed just as Beth’s parents enter. Beth’s Mom starts to cry. “Oh Dax. We’re so glad you are awake.”
Dax looks at them with a puzzled glare. “Do I know you?” His breath starts to quicken.
Dax’s Dad is fast to react and jumps to meet them before they get too far into the room. He then ushers them promptly toward the hallway.
Dax’s Mom grabs the ice water and feeds her son the straw to distract him.
Dax’s Dad walks with Beth’s Parents to a safe distance away from the room. The voices draw Sarah’s attention and she peeks around the corner.
Dax’s Dad leads the huddle in the hallway. “He doesn’t remember large parts of his life. Not the accident. Not you. And probably not Beth.”
Beth’s Mom sobs and her husband comforts her.
Dax’s Dad focuses on Beth’s Dad. “They are confident it will return, but given his delicate state we don’t want to shock him.”
Beth’s Dad nods. “But what about Beth? We can’t leave her like this. We need to make final arrangements.”
Dax’s Dad nods. “I think you should do what you need to do.”
Beth’s Parents nod. Her mother still sobs with her husband’s comforting embrace. They walk to the elevator and depart without another word.
Dax’s Dad turns to re-enter Dax’s room when he spies Sarah frozen in place with her mouth open in shock. She heard the conversation and that Dax can’t remember his life. Her heart is splitting in two when she sees Dax’s Dad walk toward her.
Back in the room, Dax sits up in bed and turns the wedding ring on his finger. He looks at his mother. “I can’t remember the wedding.”
Dax’s Mom looks hopeful. “Whose?”
Dax looks annoyed. “Sarah and mine.”
Dax’s Mom steps closer. She knows she has to play along, but she’s not confident that she can pull it off. “Oh. Well… The doctor said you might experience some memory loss. But not to worry.”
Back in the hallway Dax’s Dad reaches Sarah. She’s tense. “I heard what you said. How is he?”
Dax’s Dad smiles but his own exhaustion is starting to show. “He’s okay. He asked for you.”
Sarah looks puzzled. “He knows I’m here?”
Dax’s Dad nods. “And there’s more. He seems to think that you’re still in his life.”
Sarah suddenly feels unstable on her own two feet.
Dax’s Dad reaches out to stabilize her. “We don’t know what or who he remembers… but he remembers you.”
In some twisted joy Sarah’s heart want to soar, but she’s being ridiculous. The reality of the circumstances is far too complicated.
Dax’s Dad looks at her for reassurance. “Are you okay?”
Sarah nods. He walks her over to a chair near the nurse’s station. She sits to catch her breath and her sanity.
Dax’s Dad continues. “The doctor wants us to play along so that his memories return naturally. They don’t want to jar him with any news that could affect his delicate state.”
Sarah looks concerned. “Delicate?” She knows how horrific the accident was first-hand, but she somehow convinced herself that once Dax was awake he was ninety percent there.
Dax’s Dad puts a hand on hers. He’s not sure how she’s going to take the next part. “He still has a way to go for recovery. And the thing is… he knows you’re here and he thinks that you’re still together. He’s wondering why you’re not in there.”
Sarah shakes her head profusely. She can see where he’s going with this. “I don’t think I can do that.”
He almost pleads. “We need you’re help. Please Sarah.”
Sarah doesn’t want to have to refuse. But it’s been over 15 years. She doesn’t look the same. She doesn’t act the same. “You don’t understand. The way things ended…” She can’t finish her sentence.
Dax’s Dad holds her hand. “It doesn’t matter. He needs you now.”