Epilogue - Part 1.
The sun shone through the window, making it hard for me to fully open my eyes. I stretched my arms, searching the sheets, slowly waking up in an empty bed. Sitting up, I ran a hand through my hair, stifling a yawn away into my arm.
I could see him outside already, his back to me. The waves crashed against his feet, as he gazed into the ocean, stretching. I walked to the door, picking at the edges of the hem of his shirt, which covered me all the way to mid thigh.
The view in front of me was breathtaking. Having arrived the previous night, I hadn't had time to really enjoy the scenery. However, the light blue sky, crystal clear waters, and white sand did not stand a chance against the man standing a few yards from me. His back exposed as he stood there shirtless. His shorts, hanging low on his hips.
As if he could feel me ogling him, he turned around, peeking at me over his bare shoulder. The smile that stretched on his face was one that I had come to know and love.
He immediately made his way to me, as I stood on the doorway of our villa. Without a word, he picked me up in his arms.
"Good morning," he mumbled against my lips.
"Do you always wake up before seven in the morning while on vacation?" I managed to say, while he kissed my neck and carried me back to bed.
"I don't want to waste any time. There's a lot I want to do." It only took three days of rest after the Champions League Final for him to finally agree to a vacation together before his surgery. It was something his doctor suggested, since there would be no fun to be had while recovering from surgery.
"Like?" I struggled for words as he set me on the bed tracing kisses up my legs.
"Well… mostly you." With a devious stare he kept his eyes on mine as his hands worked on ridding me of my underwear, and before his fingers made it inside, his lips were back on my lips.
"You've been holding back on me," I gasp between pants.
"And I'm not even fixed yet..."
In the faint light of Edward's post-op room, I sit on a chair next to his bed. My hand is still under his when his fingers twitch. Soon after, his eyes flutter open.
"Hi," I say and he smiles broadly, his eyes almost in slits. "Everything went fine."
Only a hoarse noise comes out when he tries to speak, so he frowns.
"You can't talk yet," I explain. They had to intubate him so his throat must be inflamed and sore. My fingers make it to his hair and he closes his eyes.
"Rest," I whisper. In true Edward fashion, he's awake earlier than expected, but his surgeon had warned us of the sleepiness that usually follows anesthesia.
I've been on the chair across from his bed for a while, reading, when the door opens and in comes Edward's mom and dad. I've met them before, but only a couple of times, and of course, as Emmett's girlfriend back then.
I stand up and politely smile at them as they approach Edward's bed.
Edward opens one eye and grimaces at his mother.
"I can't believe you didn't tell us your surgery was today!" is the first thing she says.
"Hello, mother," Edward says, his voice still hoarse. He is pushing himself up on his elbows, with a wince — which has me stepping closer, defensively. He shouldn't be pushing himself too hard.
"How can you pretend to go through this on your own?" she asks as she arranges his pillows. "As if you have no family!"
"I'm okay. It's not a big deal." He rests his head back on the pillow, exhaling roughly and puffing his cheeks.
After a couple deep breaths, Edward's eyes land on me. "Mother, Father, you remember Isabella?"
His mother glances at me, but turns her attention quickly back to her son. "Has the doctor said anything?"
Edward gestures at me to provide the information.
"He was here, but only briefly. He said everything went well and that he would be back with more information once Edward was awake."
"Well he's awake now, so…"
"The nurses know. The doctor should be here soon." I am starting to feel a little defensive, even though I know I shouldn't. She's probably just tense and worried about her son. I shouldn't take things personally. None of this is even about me. So I take a deep breath and stay put.
Carlisle, Edward's dad, who has been silent so far, comes closer to me. "How have you been, Isabella?"
"I can't complain," I respond with a smile as Edward's mother's cell phone starts ringing and she excuses herself.
"You had to tell her, didn't you?" Edward snaps at his dad, before turning back to me with an apologetic glance. "I'm sorry."
"Next time I ask you to keep something from your mother, let's see how well you do…" Carlisle says, walking closer to the bed. Edward smiles. "How are you, son?"
"One could almost say I'm fine," Edward says, winking at me.
Approaching the bed, I stand by his side. "Do you need me to lower the bed? Are you uncomfortable? Do you need anything?"
He shakes his head with a small smile, turning to his dad. "How was the flight?" Edward clears his throat. He shouldn't be talking too much.
"Chatty," Carlisle answers with a laugh.
All right, these two.
A few minutes later, the surgeon comes in flanked by Edward's mother.
"Well, hello, Edward. How are we feeling?"
"Ready for rehab, Doc."
"All right, all right. One thing at a time. Are you still drowsy?"
"Minimally." Edward answers without hesitation.
"Good. I will go over some of the next steps with you, and I can answer any questions you may have."
Edward nods as I take a step closer to his bed. He takes no time to find my hand and wrap his fingers over mine.
"As I am sure you've heard, the surgery was successful. Took us a little longer than expected, but the result was satisfactory."
"Oh thank God!" His mother says.
"So as soon as you're feeling better, I'd like you out of that bed."
"I feel good already. I can try."
"Now hold your horses there, champ," his dad intercedes. Bless him.
"Correct. Sitting is going to be uncomfortable at best, so I think you'd prefer to skip the chair altogether. The sooner we can have you on those crutches and moving the better. For the moment being, though, no weight on your right leg. None at all."
"You'll need help at first, to get out of the bed, until you are able to use the crutches and one leg only. As far as rehab goes, we will start as soon as possible. Someone will come over later today to start moving your leg. I must warn you though, it's a long process, Edward, and only your own body will determine how fast we can go."
Edward nods again, and I see it in his eyes. He hates this. He doesn't want to need any help.
"I usually tell patients to push themselves, but I'm afraid to tell that to you, since I don't think you respect or even acknowledge your limits. With the amount of damage we found, it was incredible that you were even walking, let alone playing!"
Edward's mother scoffs, walking closer to his bed.
"Unfortunately, there's no other alternative for me than to trust your judgment on that one so that you make the best out of your rehabilitation. You will have to be very patient, however, and listen to your body carefully."
Edward nods as his mother rubs his arm.
"I see you have a great support system, so I am not too worried about that. If you're already comfortable on crutches the day after tomorrow, we can make the move to the physiotherapy and rehab clinic next door."
"Two more nights in here?!"
He closes his eyes, exhaling and dropping his head back into the pillow.
"Remember what I said: Patience." The doctor turns to look at me and smiles. "Any questions?"
"Yes, when can I try getting out of bed?" Edward asks from the bed.
"After you see the physiotherapist."
Edward groans and the surgeon smiles, nodding at me and at his mother before he leaves.
"All right," his mother starts. "Carlisle and I have to go deal with the hotel. Tonight your father will stay here, but we will need a place after you're moved to the clinic."
"Mom," Edward interjects, but she dismisses him.
"No, no… You just focus on your recovery, okay?"
"We will be back in an hour or so." She grabs her purse and heads out, followed by Carlisle.
With a sigh, Edward's eyes find mine. "I'm sorry," he says. "When she's back, I'll tell her you'll stay instead."
I can see how tired and uncomfortable he is. I was planning on staying with him, but I'm not far, and I do have to work tomorrow.
"Don't worry about it," I say, coming closer to him. "Your dad can stay. He'll be of more help."
He doesn't get to disagree because in comes a young woman, in her 30s maybe, all dressed in white, with her hair up in bun. The physiotherapist, I presume. "I hear someone wants out of this bed."
"That would be me," Edward says.
"Hi Edward," she says, flipping a page on her clipboard and clicking her pen. "My name is Brie, and I'll be your physio while you're here. How are you feeling?"
"Ready," he says again.
"Okay, great! So my goal is that in the next four to six weeks we will increase your range of motion, control your pain and inflammation, and regain some muscular strength. We will start slowly, and as pain and inflammation go down we will do more and more. But Dr. Braun has warned me about you, so I can't emphasize this enough: You have to tell me when it hurts. Sound good?"
"Sounds grand," he replies.
I'm starting to get to know — and love — this sarcastic side of him.
"All right, let's get to work."
I feel a pang of uneasiness in my stomach, as I don't know what it is she will do to him. He instinctively tenses, pushing his upper body up on his arms in more of a sitting position.
"Actually," Brie says, "let me lower the bed. It will be less uncomfortable for you if you are lying flat."
To her he listens to, and lets her lower the bed. As soon as he is flat, he exhales in relief. He can't hide this. As much as he wants to be somewhat sitting, it is clearly painful.
When she starts touching him, he seems calm. She starts at his foot and works her way up his leg. It looks like she is mostly massaging him. He doesn't seem to be in pain.
"Okay," she says, positioning herself at the foot of the bed. "First off, ankle pumps. You're going to learn to love these!" she says with a smile and proceeds to demonstrate with her hand. "Point the toes, then flex," she instructs.
"Easy peasy," he jokes, but as he does one, his body tenses infinitesimally.
"Do a few," she orders, and I can see and hear him hold his breath. He is in pain. "No, no, keep breathing."
Oh, I'm going to like her!
"How bad is it?" She asks him.
"It's not too bad," he says quickly. Too quickly.
"On a scale of one to ten?"
"It's a two," he answers right away, his tone clipped. "How many more?"
She's got him figured out already. "Keep going."
"Okay, it's a three," he confesses.
"Where does it hurt?"
By now his eyes are closed and his breathing is speeding up. "Here and down to here." His hand hovers over his hip and into his groin.
"All right, you can stop now."
He breathes out in relief.
"I think he did three, maybe four reps?" she asks me, smiling, while showing me her clipboard as she writes a ten under the number of reps that he actually did.
"Four?! I did at least ten of those!"
"All right, all right…" She walks back to his side, sets a hand on his shoulder. "We've got two more sets of those."
They get back to work and he pushes through them, like a champ. They move on to two more exercises, one where he presses his knee into the mattress, while flexing his thigh, and another where squeezing his buttocks he has to lift his hips slightly from the mattress. They seem harder for him than the ankle pumps, and at the end of it all, he is calling a five on the pain level scale and is covered in sweat.
I can't even begin to imagine how it must feel, for such an active person, to have something as seemingly easy as these exercises be so hard for him.
"How do you feel about leaving the bed now?" she asks.
What comes out of him can only be described as a whimper, while he gathers his breath to be able to answer.
My eyes jump to her as I start to worry whether she will push him too far. He is clearly exhausted.
"He can do it," she reaffirms me. "Here's what's going to happen," she says to him. "Sit up. Legs go off the side. Left leg bent, foot on the floor. Right leg extended. Me under one arm, crutch on the other, and up you go."
As he doesn't say anything she adds, "easy peasy," to which Edward smiles.
He takes a deep breath. "Let's do this."
Before he even pushes himself up, she stops him. "Not yet."
With a push of a button she has the bed bending for him until he is almost sitting.
I stand to the side, trying not to be in their way but wanting to see exactly what she does so I can help him too in the future.
She wraps an arm around his torso, under his arms, helps his legs to the side, and scoots him over to the edge of the bed. He has one arm tightly wrapped around her, the other with the hand on a fist over the sheets. His eyes are tightly closed as he breathes out through his nose.
I want to tell them to stop, but I don't think either would listen.
"The longer you wait sitting down, the worse it gets. Trust me." She hands him one of the crutches when he opens his eyes. "No weight on your right leg, okay?"
He nods as he pushes himself forward. A little hiss escapes his lips as he balances himself on his left leg, getting support from her and one of the crutches. Once he seems to have some stability, he breathes out.
"You may still be drowsy from the anesthesia."
"It's okay." She gives him a minute or two to get it together. Once he is breathing more normally, she reaches for the other crutch. "Want to try?"
We both look at her as if she's insane but she holds her smile in place. "Last thing on my clipboard," she says. "I promise."
Slowly, he takes more of his weight off of her, until he only has a hand on her shoulder. She moves the second crutch closer to him and his hand, and in the next second he is fully supporting himself on both crutches.
"Well done, Edward," she says, scribbling into her clipboard, when suddenly, off he goes, crutches forward and a hop, crutches forward and a hop...
Hours after surgery, he is circling the room in crutches. This man...
"Oh…" Brie turns to look at me with a smile. "Most patients don't get out of bed until the second day. Only a few do. I knew he was one of those."
Of course he is one of the few.
When Edward makes his way back to the bed, he is panting and very pale. Brie helps him back on the bed, until he is lying back down and flat.
He is swallowing hard, while taking deep breaths. To me, it looks like he might throw up.
I look at her, worriedly, asking silently whether we should do something.
"It's the anesthesia," she explains, picking up her things. "The nausea will pass. He will be fine."
Once Brie leaves the room, Edward's breathing is back to normal but his eyes are still closed.
When my fingers make it to his hair, he sighs. "This is tough."
"Of course it is, Edward. It's your first day, and you are already doing so well!"
"That was one hundred percent, absolutely everything I could do for now… and it wasn't much," he adds disappointedly.
"It was. It was plenty. Remember what the doctor said, okay? We have to be patient."
"Yes," he says breathing deeply. "Yes."