Bo sat in his sister's room waiting for her to return to her room. Kim was working at the clinic today so he'd decided to check in on Kira to make sure that she ate her lunch today. Especially since her feeding tube had been removed about a week ago. She could not rely on the nutrition from it any longer. She had to eat even if she didn't like the pureed foods that she was still regulated to eating.
He'd left the other men after they had finished moving the new furniture into the house now that the first level had finished being renovated after the fire. The kids' beds and dressers were in the old dining room and the guest room would be Jebb and Kira's once she was released from the hospital. The Dukes had started on the framework for the upper floors of the house but the family would be regulated to living on the main level until the rest of the house was rebuilt. Bo hoped to get a good amount of the house done before spring planting starts just around the corner.
Hearing the door open Bo looked up to see Kira shuffling in with one of her therapists at her side, an arm looped around her waist to help balance Kira on her feet. After Kira was walked over to the bed and was helped back up onto it the therapist left.
"What.. you.. doin'.. here?" Kira forced out. She'd rather just ask Bo through their link but when Kim had suggested that they only use their link when absolutely necessary to help with her with relearning to speak he'd agreed. He didn't want her using their link to avoid speaking if he could help it.
"I came to make sure you eat lunch since Kim is in town at the clinic today." Bo moved one of the chairs in the room to make sure that he would be facing his sister once he would sit down. He then added point-blank, "Otherwise, we both know you won't."
"Not today," Bo moved the tray over to the bed. It was then that Kira saw that the plate on her tray was not the standard hospital plate. "Uncle Jesse fixed you some lunch. He wasn't happy that you'd left most of your breakfast on the plate this morning when he sat with you. You're havin' what we had out at the farm. He just used one of those fancy food processers to make it where you can eat it. We have some chicken, green beans with ham mixed in, mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon and brown sugar, and some sweet tea with some of that thickener in it so that you can have it. No claiming that it tastes badly, this time."
Kira smelled the food that was better than any of the food that she'd been trying to choke back since she'd awakened from her coma. Still, it reminded her of baby food.
Bo unwrapped the silverware that he'd brought with him with the meal and set the meal up for Kira to start eating. "Now, while you eat I'll tell you about finishing the main level of the house. And don't forget, if you don't eat everything you'll hurt Uncle Jesse's feelings."
Kira groaned at the bit of guilt that her brother added to his instructions to eat. He knew damn well that she wouldn't want to hurt Jesse's feelings. Using the place mat to help her determine where everything was on her tray she slowly grabbed a spoon and set to the task of trying to feed herself. The food tasted good. Something that she knew she shouldn't have been surprised by since her uncle was an excellent cook. Still, the fact that she was regulated to eating pureed foods still weeks after she'd started the process of healing was depressing. As she ate she listened to Bo tell her about the house and the progress that the men had made so far on the repairs to it.
She knew he was keeping an eagle eye on her, worried that she'd choke while eating as she'd done in the past a few times when he was there. It was one reason why she had to have someone with her when she ate even though she wasn't forced to have them actually feed her any longer. Still, he tried to give her the illusion that he was ignoring her from time to time. Even if he wasn't watching her he was listening to her closely as she ate. One saving grace for her, however, was she was told not to try to speak while she ate to reduce the chance of choking.
"Now, Kim told the rest of the family that she'll be discharging you later on this week. So that's good news," Bo said as he stood up to gather the dishes and silverware once Kira was finished with her meal. He then put them back into the picnic basket that his uncle had sent the meal to the hospital in. "She said that all that you'll be able to work with the therapists on an outpatient basis. The only thing she's concerned about is that you still refuse to try to use the white cane when you are walking."
"Feel.. like.. knock.. in'.. stuff.. ov'r."
Bo crossed his arms as he shook his head. "It'll take time to get used to it. But you won't learn if you don't try, Kira."
"I'm.. not.. usin'.. it." Kira stated emphatically. She didn't need it. She could still see. She wasn't blind. She would make do. She'd have to.
The next morning Kira waited for her morning visitor. Usually it was Uncle Jesse or Kim since the other men would be busy with either working on the farm or restoring the house. The other women would be tending their children. Jebb usually would come in the evening with the kids so she could visit with them, too. When the door opened this morning Kira was surprised to see her oldest cousin instead.
"I figured I'd give Uncle Jesse the mornin' off." Luke smiled as he lifted a picnic basket similar to the one that Bo had brought her lunch to the hospital the day before in. "Don't worry. Jo cooked. Not me. She sent scrambled eggs since they don't really require a lot of chewin'. She checked with Kim and she said that it should be okay. She also sent some oatmeal with brown sugar since you don't like grits."
Kira watched as Luke set up her breakfast topped off with some orange juice. Once her cousin mixed in the thickener to her juice he rolled the tray in front of Kira so that she could eat.
"Why.. come.. today?"
Luke grinned as he replied, "Can't I just want to spend time with my cousin?"
"No. You.. are.. up.. to.. some.. thin'."
Luke shrugged. "Eat. We'll talk after you're finished."
Kira looked down at her tray and saw that Luke hadn't put the place mat that she'd come to rely on to use to find where her silverware and food were on the tray. She glanced over to where her cousin had sat down and seemed oblivious to the fact that he'd neglected to place the tool that she'd been using for weeks now onto her tray. She shook her head to shake the slight sense of dread that she suddenly felt. She'd not realized how much she'd come to rely on that simple place mat that resembled a checkerboard. She moved to reach for her spoon and ended up knocking her bowl of oatmeal. Fortunately it didn't tip over enough to spill her food out before she stopped it.
"Havin' a bit of a hard time?"
Kira creased her brow. "Where's.. the.. mat?"
"Oh, so you want the mat? You see, I heard that you didn't plan to use any tools that would help with your vision. I mean, Bo told me that you flat out refuse to learn to use a white cane. The mat is a tool, too, to help with your disability. If you don't want to use one I figured that you wouldn't want the other, either."
"It's.. Diff.. rent!"
"Really? Why?" Luke stood up to watch Kira struggle with the answer.
"It.. just.. is."
"No, it isn't Kira. Both help you if you allow yourself to learn to use them. You have been using the mat and it's helped. I don't think you realized how much until you didn't have it any longer." Luke went to the basket where the mat was and started to rearrange the items on the tray so that he had room to put the place mat down. He then put the bowls of food, cup of juice, and the silverware onto the mat as Kira had become accustomed to. "The cane is just another tool. You just have to allow yourself to take the time to learn and use it. You are going home this week. You can learn in the privacy of your own home, if you want, but if you start here while you are still in the hospital then people who are trained to help you can do just that."
Kira looked down to her tray now that it was set up as she had become used to for each of her meals. She chewed on her lip as she considered her cousin's words. She finally uttered the words that she knew that he was waiting for. "I'll.. try."
"That's all that I ask, Kira." Luke knew that Kira didn't want the visible reminder to everyone else of her new disability. Overcoming that won't be easy. She had a lot of pride. It was that pride that had always served her well over the course of her life. But now, Kira was going to have to set that pride aside.
Kira waited in her room a few days later while waiting for her discharge papers. Across the room Jebb was waiting with her. She'd asked to be released while the kids were still in school. She wanted to try to find her way around the house and its new layout before the kids saw her. She didn't want to have them watch her stumble around their home as their first memory of her being back home. As for the rest of the family, she knew that the men were all upstairs working on the upper floors. They hoped to have the new walls in place before the planting started in earnest. Kira had asked, though, that they wait until the evening to officially welcome her home. She wanted to try to get a feel for being back home without the eyes of the rest of the family on her.
"Kira?" Jebb saw that she seemed to be lost in thought. "Are you okay?"
"Yes. I.. I'm just... sort of..." Kira couldn't figure out how she wanted to finish her sentence.
"It'll be alright. Kim said that transitioning home may take some time. But you'll do fine. And since all of us are all on the first floor, you'll not have to worry about using the stairs for a while."
Kira nodded. Yes, she wasn't sure how she'll be able to navigate the stairs just yet. Eventually the discharge papers arrived and she and Jebb were able to leave the hospital at long last. Jebb helped her into her truck then steered them back toward Hazzard County. He continued to tell her about the renovations of the house, things that they hoped to do in the coming months, as well as ways that they could improve the house so that it would serve the family even better than the large house had already. Kira, however, had a hard time trying to concentrate on what he was saying. As she watched the landscape pass by her window she began to feel nauseated. She had to swallow repeatedly the spit that seemed to be running from a faucet directly into her mouth. She also had a sheen of cold sweat that covered her as she rested her head on the window of the passenger's side door. As she suddenly felt a sensation of falling she reached her hand out to the dashboard of the truck to steady herself.
"Kira," Jebb noticed that Kira didn't look well. "Are you okay? Should we go back to the hospital?"
Jebb did as he was told without hesitation. As soon as the truck stopped Kira yanked the door open and practically fell out onto the ground. Jebb quickly shut the engine off, got out and made his way around the truck where Kira was dry heaving on the ground. He knelt down next to her and when he noticed the sweat he removed his jacket to add to Kira's own jacket. The last thing that he knew that Kira needed was to catch a chill in the early February cool day.
"Are you okay now?" Jebb asked as his wife finally stopped heaving and leaned against him as if she didn't have the strength to stay upright on her own.
"Yes.. Think so." Kira took several slow breaths as she tried to gather herself. "Kim.. warned.. me. Just.. didn't..."
"Warn you about what?" Jebb wondered what could be so bad that Kim hadn't shared it with him as well.
"Mo.. tion.. sick. Never.. been.. carsick.. before. Not.. even.. going.. fast."
Jebb hadn't thought of how Kira's loss of depth perception could cause her to not even be able to comfortably ride in a car. He knew that she'd not be able to drive but here she was getting sick just riding in the car. "Maybe if you try to ride with your eyes closed. Maybe it won't make you sick that way."
"I'll.. try." Kira stood back up with Jebb's help and got back into the truck. She then tilted her head back onto the headrest and made a conscious decision to keep her eyes tightly closed. She suspected that Jebb was eyeing her to make sure that she wasn't getting sick again. Still, she didn't want to tempt fate by opening her eyes and checking.
When the truck finally came to a stop once more Jebb told Kira that they were home. Kira then opened her eyes and saw for the first time just what kind of damage had been done to the only house that had ever truly been a home for her. The top two floors were nothing but a frame. The first floor looked different, as well. The windows, the doors, the wood for the outside of the house were all new. In fact, her home didn't look anything like the one that she remembered.
Kira stared in horror at the remains of her home then remembered that her children had been in the house when this had happened. "How?"
"Remember, everyone is okay now, Kira. The kids are all fine. It was a scary night but they got through it." Jebb seemed to know what was going through Kira's mind as she looked at the house. After giving her a few minutes to take in the changes of the exterior of the house he got out and walked around to help her out of the truck. As she got out she felt an unwelcomed tool placed into her hand. "Now, you might as well as practice using it right from the start. It will help you get around the house."
"No.. I.. don't.. need-"
Jebb cut her off. "You promised Luke that you'd work on using it." Jebb saw the dirty look that crossed Kira's face so he added, "Yes, I know about him going to talk to you about it. And since Dukes don't break their word, you get to take this and start practicing with it at the house. But I will walk you up to the door."
Jebb extended his arm to Kira to help guide her up to the steps. When the reached the steps at the back door he told her to step up and guided her to the door, opened it, then allowed her to make her own way into the kitchen. Once inside Kira saw that the kitchen had been redone. It looked very close to her old kitchen before the fire but the flooring had been replaced with checkerboard patterned tile. Jebb informed her that each square was two feet by two feet. After a moment Kira realized that it was designed that way to help her navigate the room. Kira took in the rest of the room and while she was depressed that nearly all that she'd acquired over the last ten years in her home had been destroyed she was pleased with what her family had chosen to replace those items with. That's when it hit her. This was nearly ten years to the day that Jebb had first brought her here to surprise her with where they would make their home together to start their family. Jebb noticed her pause.
"Something wrong? You don't like it?"
Kira shook her head. "Not.. that. Just.. been.. ten.. years."
Jebb put an arm around her waist. "A lot of memories in this room, huh?"
"But.. you.. don't.. remem.. ber.. all.. of.. them."
"No. I don't. But I do remember the first time you came here. When we were choosing how to decorate this room I sort of got a flash of it. That's why I insisted on the wood paneling in here and in the living room. I remembered that you actually liked it despite Daisy tryin' to talk you into paintin' over them before we moved in. She tried to convince you that it was too masculine. But you thought that it made it feel more like home. Your home."
"You.. remem.. ber.. that?"
Jebb smiled and nodded. "It's one of my favorite memories that I've gotten back since I first lost them."
Kira returned the smile as she went further into the room. She subconsciously stretched out a hand to feel before she'd walk into anything. The first thing that her hand felt was one of the kitchen chairs.
"You know, that's what the cane is for. You'd find the chair sooner with it before you're right up on top of it."
Kira gave a harsh glare at Jebb, forgetting the touching moment that the two had just shared. After a few seconds she unfolded it and reluctantly began doing as she'd been taught to determine her surroundings with it. When she walked toward the living room she saw that while the checkerboard flooring hadn't been continued into it the flooring had been chosen with her vision in mind. Instead of planked hardwood floors they were now replaced with parquet flooring. It was still the dark hardwood that she loved but the parquet pattern was chosen to help Kira navigate the room. The furniture, too, while didn't look like the furniture that she'd painstakingly chosen years prior it was definitely chosen with her tastes in mind.
"So, what do you think? You like it?" When Kira nodded Jebb continued, "Good. Now, you have a couple of hours to practice getting around before the kids get home. Since I know that you didn't want them to see you stumble around as soon as they see you at home."
Kira nodded once more before she set about the task of relearning her home that she once knew like the back of her hand. She counted ten steps down the hall to memorize where the bathroom was. She then set about memorizing how many steps there were from the door to the couch. She tested how many steps she had from the stove to the kitchen chair at the table. In essence, she was relying on her counting of her steps rather than the cane. By the time the children were let out from school she felt confident. She could do this. She just had to remember her steps.