Eddie woke up first the next morning. Janet was still sleeping soundly with her head on his chest and an arm wrapped around his abdomen. She was snoring softly and there was a damp spot on his shirt from drool and he loved it. He thought the snoring and drool was adorable. Gazing down at his sleeping wife he thought everything about her was adorable. This morning was the first time since he had awakened from him coma that he has seen his wife look perfectly relaxed. He wished that he could watch her sleep all day and he hated to wake her from her relaxed, peaceful state but his bladder had other ideas and if he didn't empty his bladder soon, it would empty all over the bed and Janet.
Eddie leaned over and pressed his lips to Janet's forehead. She sighed and snuggled closer to him but never opened her eyes. Gently he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and ran a finger across her cheek. "Sweetheart, it's time to wake up." He mumbled softly. Her eyes fluttered open and focused on him. "Good morning beautiful." He watched as tears filled her eyes. "Janet, what is it?"
"It's been so long since I have woken up in your arms. It's been so long since your smiling handsome face was the first I saw. I have missed it so much." She sniffed as a few tears slid down her cheeks. Janet lifted her head, and pressed her lips to her husbands'. "Yes. I have missed waking up this way." She told him when they broke apart.
"Put that on your list."
"You were serious about that list?"
"Dead serious. I want you to make a list of everything that you missed while I was comatose and everything I missed."
"It's going to be a very long list."
"Make the list. The sooner the better."
"If you insist."
"Now as much as I love lying here with you I have to pee."
"I'm sorry." Janet climbed out of bed. "Let me get your nurse."
"Nah. Just hand me the urinal thing on the counter please." Janet did as he asked.
"While you take care of your business, I will take care of mine."
"I love you." Janet told him from the bathroom door.
"I love you too." More tears fell as she shut the door. It was so good to hear those three words from him again.
An hour later, they had just finished breakfast. After calling and checking on the kids and making sure they were fine the two of them were talking, cuddling and kissing on Eddie's hospital bed. They had about forty-five minutes until Eddie's physical therapist came down to begin his morning exercises.
"Did you sleep well?" Eddie asked once Janet settled back into his arms.
"I haven't slept that good in a very long time."
"I had the best dream. I dreamt that you were home."
"Soon baby. Soon. I promise." Eddie kissed the top of her head. "Speaking of dreams I think that I had some very realistic crazy dreams when I was in my coma. I mean, I think that they were dreams but they were so real. I remember spending time with the boys doing everything that they love. They told me everything that was going on with them and with you. I remember telling them things to tell you. I told them to remind you to change the oil in the van and not to dress them the same on their first day of school."
"This makes no sense Eddie but they weren't dreams."
"I figured that I must have just imagined it."
"No baby. I don't think that you did. I can't explain it but somehow you and the boys shared these dreams. They would wake up in the morning and tell me about what you guys did and they would give me your messages. On their first day of school, I dressed the boys identically and they told me that you didn't want them dressed alike so I changed them."
"Really? Are you serious?"
"Every single day."
"They must be how I knew about Jocelyn." Eddie began to nod his head. "Yeah, I remember. At first the boys were not pleased but I told them what an important job big brother's have; they have to protect their little sister and they loved that. Did Josh call her Josh-Lynn?"
"He did. He thought they had the same name. He loved it and it took weeks to get him to say Jocelyn instead of Josh-Lynn."
"I think it really helped the boys. They felt connected to you while you were in your coma."
"I…I don't remember any "dream" with you." He admitted sadly.
"Neither do I and honestly, I was jealous of the boys. They were so excited to go to sleep every night because they knew that they were going to see you and I wished, just once, that I would get to spend a night with you in my dreams."
"I'm sorry baby."
"It's not like you had any control of it and most of the time, I loved hearing about their adventures with you."
"Most of the time?"
"One day, the one year anniversary of your coma, I was sad, very tired and short on patience. Jocelyn was a colicky baby and I had been up most of the night with her. I had just gotten her to sleep and the boys were playing like little boys should play. They were yelling and running around. I told them to keep it down or they would wake their sister. I suggested Candy Land and that didn't go over so well. The stormed upstairs, slammed the door and woke her up. I was so frustrated. I yelled at them and started crying. They told me not to cry and then started to tell me something you told them during one of your dreams and I told them that I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want any more messages from you." Janet's voice was shaking.
"Honey, your reaction is understandable."
"We all took a nap and when we woke up I splurged and ordered pizza, apologized and took back what I said. I wanted to hear about their time with you. They were so happy whenever they told me about their dreams and I couldn't take that away from them. I wanted them to be happy."
"And they wanted you to be happy."
"Sometimes, it was just so hard." She admitted softly. "Especially when Jocey was colicky. Even though I was exhausted and I wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for days I couldn't. I just had to keep going for our family."
"How long did the colic last?"
"Three very long months."
"I'm sorry I wasn't there to help you."
"Baby, quit apologizing. It's not like you had a choice in the matter."
"I…missed so much." Janet sat up.
"I brought Jocelyn's DVD."
"Jocelyn's DVD? Our six month old daughter has her own DVD?"
"She sure does. She is the perfect little star." Janet climbed out of bed and pulled the DVD from her purse and held it up. "Wanna watch your daughter make her entrance into the world?"
"She was very stubborn during her birth so that makes her your daughter."
"Prove it because I don't buy for a second that our sweet precious baby girl is stubborn." Janet popped the DVD in and then climbed back in bed next to Eddie.
Jocelyn's DVD began with Janet's second visit to her OBGYN and ever other visit after. Janet recorded both of her ultrasounds and her baby shower that she didn't ask for. After the shower, they watched the very long labor that Janet had to endure. Janet was embarrassed that Hannah had caught her threatening Eddie.
"Really? You were going to beat me back into a coma when I woke up?" He asked with a grin.
"I was in pain and it was your fault. You knocked me up."
"Is the time right on the video?"
"It's exactly right."
"Then you at this point you have been in labor for eighteen hours."
"Twenty six hours total."
"No wonder you wanted to beat me back into a coma."
"What did I say? She is stubborn just like her daddy."
"Do you still want to beat me back into a coma?"
"Nah. I got over it."
"I'm glad." They resumed watching the DVD and when they saw Jocelyn born Eddie had tears rolling down his cheeks.
"She looks like the boys did." Eddie commented.
"I see you. The only thing she has from me are her blue eyes. She looks so much like you; more than any of the boys do and that was the hardest thing for me. Every time I looked at her all I could see was you and you weren't here." Eddie wrapped an arm around Janet and held her tightly.
The end of the DVD included most of Jocelyn's first; her first dirty diaper; her trip home from the hospital; first bath; first doctor's appointment; first shots; first story that her mom read to her; and any other first that Jocelyn experienced.
"Thank you for this Janet. It helps that I was able to see the important moments of Jocey's life."
"I did it for me as much as you. By taping, well most everything, I had to believe that you were going to wake up." By this time, they both had tears falling down their faces. They looked up at each other and wiped the other's tears away and then shared a slow, sweet kiss until there was a knock at the door and they reluctantly pulled apart.
"Sorry to interrupt." Alan, Eddie's physical therapist said as he walked into the room.
"It's okay." A slight blush rose on Janet's cheeks and she climbed out of Eddie's embrace and the bed.
"Are you ready to get started Eddie?"
"Let's do this so I can get home to my family."
"I'm going to run home to shower and grab a change of clothes while you do your exercises."
"Stay please." Eddie requested.
"I need a shower."
"No you don't. You look perfect just the way you are." Eddie's brown eyes were pleading. "Please baby, I'm not ready for you to leave yet."
"Okay. I will stay but you can't complain if I start smelling bad." It was impossible to resist those brown eyes.
"Thank you." Alan noticed a tender look pass between the couple. "And while I am working, you have your own work to do."
"You have a list to put together."
Two hours later Janet completed the requested list and Eddie was an exhausted sweaty mess. They had really worked his legs in an attempt to build up the muscle and it was a lot of hard work since he hasn't moved his legs in over a year.
"I could really use a shower right now." Eddie grumbled, wiping the sweat from his forehead once Alan left. Eddie had avoided any grumbling while in the presence of his physical therapist because Alan wouldn't put up with it. "I am so sweaty. It's nasty."
"Since you are no longer in a coma you can give yourself a sponge bath." Janet informed him.
"Or maybe you can give me one."
"Why would I do that? You are perfectly capable of doing it yourself."
"I'm not sure how to do it. I think I need you to show me."
"Well I have become very proficient in giving you sponge baths over the last year."
"See? I need your expertise."
"I would rather it be me giving you pointers then one of the beautiful nurses."
"Were you the only one to bathe me during my coma?"
"No but you were unresponsive then. Now, not so much."
"There is no woman here that is more beautiful than you are meaning that you are the only woman that I will respond to."
"I will give you a sponge bath on one condition."
"And that would be what?"
"That from now on either you bath yourself or I do. No one else can have their hands on your naked body."
"Deal." Eddie agreed with a mischievous grin. That deal benefited him on every level.
After letting the nurse know her plan, Janet locked the door, found and filled a basin with warm water and set it on his tray along with his shaving supplies and clean towels and washcloths. Eddie sat up as far as he could go and while Janet raised the bed to support his back. "Do you require a shave sir?"
"Yes Ma'am I believe I do." He ran his hand over his two day old beard. Slowly and gently, Janet lathered his handsome face up with shaving cream. "Be careful. Don't cut me."
"This ain't my first rodeo cowboy."
"Oh really? How many other men have you shaved?"
"Only you baby; lots over the past year but it was a lot easier when you weren't flapping your jaw. Now hush!" Eddie obediently shut his mouth and allowed Janet to remove him of his facial hair.
"Nice job." He said, checking his clean shaven face out in a small handheld mirror.
"I'm glad that approve. Now take off your shirt."
"Aren't you at least going to buy me dinner first?" Without any warning, she yanked his shirt up over his head. "I'll take that as a no." With a wink, Janet wet the washcloth down, soaped it up and slowly began rubbing in over his upper body, taking in every hitch of breath and every reaction that came out of him.
"I bathed you two days ago and you didn't respond at all. Today is different. I can feel you responding under my fingers."
"I am definitely responding. I love the way your hands feel on me. I always have."
"I've missed your hands on me."
"Is that on your list?" She nodded.
"No you're not. My lower half needs bathed." Janet's eyes dropped to his waist where his ever growing erection was present and accounted for.
"I guess you're right. Am I going to have to remove your shorts?"
"I would appreciate that. I am not very coordinated yet."
"Lift your butt for me." Using his forearms he lifted his butt up and carefully, pulled his shorts off. This time as Janet washed his legs she massaged them as well. "How does that feel?" She asked when he groaned.
"Looks like I have one more body part to wash."
"Hmmm." Eddie's eyes were closed and he was resting his head against the bed. Gently, she washed his manhood, smiling as Eddie let out a small moan. Deciding to take advantage of his vulnerable state, she returned the washcloth to the basin and replaced it with her hand. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his.
Their mouths opened and their tongues sought out and found the other and made up for lost time. As their tongues stroked each other, Janet began to stroke Eddie's desire for her. Eddie increased the intensity of the kiss and pushed his hips up into her hand. Her hand on him felt so good and he wanted her to feel good too so he surprised her and slipped a hand up her shirt to cup an aching breast. She pulled back in surprise, smiled softly at him before returning her mouth to his where they continued to stroke and caress each other until Eddie's body suddenly jerked and stilled at the height of his release. Reluctantly, he pulled his hand out of her shirt, cupped both her cheeks and continued their kiss.
"Thank you." He whispered breathlessly when they finally broke their kiss.
"It was my pleasure." She answered.
"No it wasn't. I think I was the only one who got any pleasure out of that."
"I made you happy. That is always pleasurable for me." Eddie reached out and grabbed the hand that she was using to clean him and her up with. Since they were clean, he put the washcloth back in the basin.
"I promise you that when we get home, I am going to make you happy over and over and over again."
"I like the sound of that." They shared another kiss. "I learned something from this experiment today." She told him as she got out of bed and found him some clean clothes.
"What's that?" He caught his clothes in mid air.
"Seeing and experiencing you r reaction I learned that no one except you can give you your sponge bath."
"You. You can give me my bath."
"No I can't. Giving you your bath has left me all hot and bothered. Trust me, if you weren't here right now I would be having my way with you so you are on your own buster."
"Janet I am…"
Stop." She interrupted. "Don't say you are sorry. I don't want to hear it. You have nothing to apologize for. Now get dressed. The kids will be here soon."
"You've gotten really bossy."
"I'm a mom. That's what we do." With a wink, she disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Eddie alone to dress.
"Care to give me a hand?" He asked when she returned a few minutes later. He had his tee shirt on and was struggling to get his shorts and boxers on.
"I already did that." With a smile she returned to his bedside and assisted him. Once he was dressed, Janet climbed up in bed beside him and turned on the television and found a baseball game. They didn't talk and Eddie absentmindly toyed with her short curls so Janet knew he had something on his mind. After a few innings she muted the television and turned to look at him. "What's wrong baby?"
"Janet what about if my tumors come back? What if my surgery, my coma, the time lost was for nothing?"
"I don't think that they will. Like Dr. Weber said, your tumors were always back within six months. This time we have gone fifteen months tumor free. I don't think that they are coming back."
"I can't do it again. I can't live like I did before my surgery. I was so much pain all of the time. I was miserable. That was no way to live. I wasn't a husband or a father. I was just existing, waiting for the pain to stop."
"Baby, I don't think that you will have to do it again. I think that your tumors are behind you; behind us."
"But what if they aren't? What if they come back and I…?"
"Then we will deal with it like we did before.'
"You shouldn't have to deal with my brain tumors."
"What part of in sickness and health that we promised each other in our vows was unclear to you Latekka?" He smiled sheepishly. "We can't live with "what if" Eddie. That will do no one any good. I've always known that life is short and you never know when it will end for you or someone you love. With your tumors and coma, it really hit home that I could lose you or anyone at any time so whether you die next week or fifty years from now I want to live everyday to the fullest and living with "what if" won't accomplish that. Does that make sense?"
"It makes perfect sense." The couple gazed into each other's tear filled eyes. "Every day to the fullest. It sounds perfect." Eddie leaned over and kissed his wife.
"Mommy! Daddy!" The door to Eddie's room burst open and the triplets ran in ending their tender moment. They broke apart as the boys climbed up on the bed, knowing their alone time was now over. It was time to focus on their family.
"Goodnight. I love you." Eddie whispered into the phone.
"Goodnight. Sleep well baby. We will see you tomorrow night. I love you too." Sadly, he hung up the phone.
Janet and the kids left a few hours ago and he had been overcome with loneliness since and he wouldn't see them again until the next evening since they had to return to their lives. Janet had to go back to work, the boys were starting their summer day camp and Sharon was going to watch Jocelyn. He knew that Janet had to work. He knew that the boys had to start the camp that Janet worked so hard to make sure that they could go but knowing all of that didn't make it suck any less. He missed his family and wanted, more than anything to be home with them.
Replacing the phone in its cradle he noticed the folded piece of paper that Janet had set there earlier; her list. He had forgotten all about it. Turning on the bedside lamp, he reached for the paper and opened it.
Things I missed about you
Sparkle in your eyes
Waking up & falling asleep in your arms
Things you missed
Jocelyn – pregnancy, birth, first six months
Triplet's 6th birthday
The boys' first lost tooth
The boys' first day of school
The boys' Christmas & Spring school programs
Night time feedings
Three months of colic
Bathing the kids
Reading bedtime stories to the kids
Getting the kids ready in the morning
Saturday morning breakfast in bed with the kids
So much more that I can't even think of…
Eddie vowed to himself to make up to Janet everything that she missed about him when he was gone and he vowed to somehow experience everything that he missed in his kids' lives…one way or another. He owed his family that.