A/N - I cannot believe I haven't updated this story in so long. My sincere appreciation to all of you have left me feedback on this story, both recently and when I first posted this. I can't tell you exactly when this story will be completed, but I will will do my absolute best to finish it. Thanks again to all of you have have read and reviewed, I hope there are still some of you left :)
As quickly as my mom latched on to me, she lets go and takes off mumbling something about checking for an update on my dad.
I have no time to react.
No time to ask her what is going on and if my dad's ok.
I suppose if it was really bad news she would have said something.
As real as things felt moments ago, I'm back to experiencing this all in the most surreal of ways. Everything is happening in slow motion and yet it feels like the world is rushing past me.
I know I'm not making sense but nothing makes sense.
How could a man as wonderful as my father be going through something so horrible?
Bad things happen to good people all the time, but right now I don't give a fuck about anything logical or how unfair life is. My dad is lying somewhere in this hospital and there's nothing I can do to make this better.
And I still don't have answers.
The tears that I've been fighting since I received that call from my mother are on the brink of emerging. The shock I've experienced is threatening to wear off and reality is about to rear its ugly head.
Ashley puts her arm around my shoulder and as much as I want to let go of everything I'm feeling, I don't.
I need to be strong.
I need to be the pillar of strength I know I can be.
Whatever it takes, I will be the person my dad expects me to be.
There are so many things going through my mind that I can only focus on keeping my shit together. Anything else will take too much effort and I can't breakdown.
I won't breakdown.
I've already been selfish enough these last few months. Now it's my turn to put aside my feelings and concentrate my efforts on everyone else.
I look around to find out where my mom went as Ashley continues to hold onto me.
I see her talking to a nurse or somebody who works at the hospital. She doesn't seem as frantic or hysterical as when I first arrived and that allows to keep calm.
Glen and Jessie get up to greet me.
I have no clue what they are saying to me.
I embrace them back when they hug me, but their words are hard to make out.
Glen sits back down before I have a chance to ask him how he's doing. But I don't really need to ask. The grief stricken look on his face says more than words ever could.
His eyes are moist.
I know he's barely hanging on, too.
I want to give him the comfort he deserves, but I'm still kind of lost in my head and my thoughts. I guess I'm not doing the best job at being the rock of support I want to be.
I wish there was a way to make my mind less cluttered.
That's not the easiest of tasks on a good day.
Actually, what I wish more is that my dad was not in the hospital and I wasn't waiting to find out if he's going to live or...
I can't finish that sentence.
Some of Jessie's words start to make their way through the haze that I'm experiencing.
She says something about my dad collapsing in a meeting.
I don't know how much of this I can stand.
There was chaos.
Nobody knew what was wrong.
My dad had stopped breathing.
I feel my chest start to tighten up as I squeeze my eyes shut.
Madison rushed over to my dad.
I think Jessie mentions the words 'CPR'.
I can't be sure though.
How can any of this be real?
My dad isn't weak.
He's the strongest person I know.
He's my hero.
And heroes don't get sick.
They don't have heart attacks.
That is what they suspect happened to my dad.
Jessie gives me another hug and this time I hug her back even harder than she's holding on to me. I know this must be so tough for her as well.
Not only because she was there when my dad collapsed. She's been a part of this family for a long time and she must be just as scared as I am.
We can't lose him now.
Jessie only lets go of me when her name is called out from a voice behind me.
I had no doubt she'd show up and I can only imagine how much of a relief it must be for my friend to have her wife and partner arrive.
I know how much I need Ashley and how much comfort she brings me.
Words are exchanged, Melissa hugs me as well as everyone else, but my mind is not up to processing exactly what is going on.
So much has happened in such a short period of time that there's only so much information I can take in.
The longer we go without news on my dad's condition, the worse my imagination gets. It's horrifying what situations I've been thinking about.
Then again, this whole situation is horrifying.
Ashley guides me to a nearby seat and I don't protest.
I want to.
I want to be strong enough to take control of things.
I want to be the commanding presence that will ensure that everything is going to be ok.
I can't though.
I have no power to make things better.
I have no power to change what happened.
I have no power to make sure my dad is ok.
Helpless is a great way to describe what I'm feeling at this moment.
Helpless and scared beyond anything I've ever felt before.
It doesn't escape my attention, despite everything that is going on, that my brother has no one here to provide him the support and comfort that Jessie and I have.
Not to say that wasn't of his own doing but now is not the time to dwell on the giant mistakes that Glen has made. It must be hard for him to watch Ashley and Melissa be there for us in a way that Aiden used to be there for him.
I don't even have a chance to voice what I'm thinking before Ashley leans over and whispers in my ear, "I think I should call Aiden."
I nod my head as I look into her caring eyes. I can see how worried she is.
For my father.
And I can only imagine that this is stirring up some memories for her that must be beyond painful. Not to mention I know how much she loves my dad.
We all do.
I want to ask her how she's doing.
If this is too much.
But I can't.
I'm barely keeping it together.
Does that make me awful?
I don't have the capacity to deal with that kind of question at this moment.
I can tell that Ashley doesn't want to leave my side but I also can tell she doesn't want to make the call to Aiden with everyone around.
He's going to be devastated too.
Like we all are.
He was treated just like a member of the family and I know he's kept in touch with my dad even though he and Glen broke up.
When you become a Carlin, it's for life.
Not one of us has stopped caring about Aiden just because of what happened between him and my brother.
I was always taught how important family was by both my parents, but that lesson always seemed to come a bit more from my father. He always showed us how important we were to him and that's a lesson I want one day to teach my kids.
All of a sudden I'm hit with flashes of what my life would be like without my dad there.
When we tell the family that we're pregnant.
The birth of our first child.
And our second.
Hearing our kids call him Grandpa.
Countless celebrations that he won't be a part of.
Not just for Ashley and me, but for everyone.
I feel sick.
I want to throw up.
I won't though.
This isn't the time.
I use every ounce of energy I have to suppress the pain that I'm feeling so I can deal with whatever is about to come.
Ashley is back before my mom is and I'm very close to going to find out if she has any news about how my dad is doing.
I keep seated though because I can only imagine what she is going through and I'm sure the last thing she needs is for me to pester her.
What she actually needs is deal with this whatever way she wants to and for all of us to just be there in any way we can.
It's not easy staying back.
It's not easy realizing that there's nothing you can do.
Talk about feeling useless.
"It's going to be ok," Ashley whispers in my ear even though she has no way of knowing that. "It's going to be ok."
I can't even think it.
I'm not mad at her.
She's saying it to make me feel better. The only way I can feel better is to know my dad is fine.
"I know," I tell her because I think that's what I'm supposed to say.
She places a soft kiss on my forehead and I'm so grateful that she's here with me right now. I don't know what I would have done if I received that call from my mom with Ashley still being in New York.
I really don't know.
And I'm grateful beyond belief that I don't even have to worry about what that would have been like.
"No news yet," my mom announces as she takes a seat beside me.
All of sit up in our chairs and I leave the comfort of Ashley to take my mom's hand. I squeeze it tightly so I can convey what I'm feeling as words seem inadequate.
She looks like she's aged ten years and her eyes are red and watery.
I wish I could take her pain away.
So many times she's been there for me and helped me through whatever it was I was going through. She's always given me exactly what I've needed and I hope that I can do the same.
I can only imagine what is going on in her mind.
It must be hundred times worse than what is going on in mine. Not only is she worrying about her husband but she must also be thinking about her kids and making sure we're ok.
Not all her kids are here.
Clay and Chelsea are god knows where and I can't believe I didn't think of them before.
Someone has to tell them what's happened, if that hasn't been done already.
My thoughts must be very transparent for some reason because my mom lets me know that she can't reach Clay even though she's been trying ever since she got to the hospital. Her voice cracks and her head finds its way to my shoulder.
I wrap my arm around my mother like Ashley did to me. I feel her start to cry again but she's not sobbing hysterically. Instead tears are just falling and for some reason that strikes me even sadder than when I first saw her.
It's almost like she's resigning herself to the worst.
"I'll take care of it," Ashley assures my mom. "Don't worry, he'll get the news."
"Thank you, Ashley," my mom replies, her gratefulness evident.
I don't have time to ask Ashley exactly how she's going to do that because she quickly steps away from where we are seated to make another phone call. I'm not sure who she's talking to but I have no doubt that she'll keep her promise.
Our little group is silent.
Our thoughts only focused on one thing.
On one person.
Ashley returns and sits on the other side of my mom.
Each of us is holding one of her hands.
Giving her whatever strength she needs.
It's the least we can do.
All of our heads shoot up in the direction of the voice that's broken our little bubble of silence and prayer.
I have no idea who this guy is.
And I also have no idea if the news he's about to give is good or bad.
His poker face is so hard to read and it's causing my throat to tighten up so much that I can barely breathe. I start to panic but I will myself to keep calm.
It's not easy.
"Let's go over there and talk," he suggests without any emotion in his voice.
My mom squeezes my hand so hard that it's difficult not to react.
I can see how frightened she looks, but I can also see how hard she's fighting not to cause a scene.
This can't be good.
I mean, why the need to take us somewhere else to say whatever it is he has to say.
I look over at Ashley and her eyes find mine.
Whatever happens we'll deal with it together.
I love you.
I hear her messages to me loud and clear and it does help ease my worries, just a little.
My mom nods her head before all of us get up to follow the stranger that could change all of our lives with just a few words.
We all huddle together as we wait for the news on my dad to be delivered.
The doctor starts to talk but I can barely make out what he's saying.
It's all too much.
Too much information.
His words are fleeting and it's like I'm only about to process half of what is coming out of his mouth.
Lucky to be alive….
Thank you god!
He is alive!
There's more though.
Next twenty four hours are imperative…
I see the relief on my mother's face but I also see that she knows this isn't over.
My mom nods her head furiously when the doctor asks her for permission to operate. He presents her with a form and she lets go of my hand to sign it.
He starts talking about what's going to happen during the surgery and once again it feels like I'm stuck in a bubble as the rest of the world rushes by me.
Please let the surgery go ok!
Please let him be ok!
She asks to see him before they get started but the doctor says there isn't enough time and they have to get started right away.
She begs him.
And it's so sad.
How can they say no?
This could be her last…
I can't let my mind go there.
Eventually he relents and the two of them rush off to wherever my dad is.
A nurse comes by to show us where we should go now that my dad isn't in the emergency room anymore.
My stomach lurches as I reach out for Ashley.
No one can tell us how long the surgery will take.
No one tells us anything really.
All we can do now is wait.
No matter how difficult that is going to be.
I know! I don't update in over a year and I leave the chapter off that way - what a tease! My next update will be up in a week. I swear on my honour as lesbian :)