O is for Optimistic
Characters: Adam and Joan Girardi
Summary: Upon receiving bad news about his aunt, Adam and Joan fly out to see Lousia and her family
Character Age: 31
The heart monitor was emitting a steady beeping noise and the rhythmic, repetitive sound of the ventilator almost had a reassuring quality to it. Still, it scared Adam to see his aunt lying helplessly in her ICU bed, her life entirely dependent on the machines surrounding her.
Despair suddenly flooded him. What if she didn't make it? What would that do to her family? He wasn't very close with his uncle, but Jamie and Susan and the kids? He had lost two parents, he knew the kind of void a tragedy like that left in one's life.
An unexpected beep that was new woke Adam from his reverie. His head shot up, but all the monitors looked normal. Or as normal as he could discern. He breathed a sigh of relief when the beep didn't repeat after half a minute of tense waiting.
His gaze went to Louisa's face, pale and expressionless. He leaned forward and put his hands on her left arm. How he wished he could only transfer some of his energy into her.
He didn't know how long he had sat like that, just hoping for a turn for the better, when he heard soft footsteps approaching from behind. Joan's hands gently touched both his shoulders and he felt his strength ebbing.
He leaned back and let his head rest on the backrest of the chair. His eyes closed for a few seconds and when he opened them again, he was looking at his wife, standing behind him.
"Any change?" she asked.
"No," he sighed.
She started playing with the hair above his forehead and neither of them said anything for a few moments.
"What if she doesn't make it?" Adam asked the question aloud that wouldn't leave him alone.
"She'll make it."
"That's very optimistic. How do you know?"
"I just know."
"Hm," he mumbled. "Wait, did you talk to... you know?"
He suddenly looked more sanguine and she hated to crush his hopes. Softy, she said, "No. I haven't seen Him in a long time."
"And why is that? Where is He when we need Him?"
"I'm sure He's right here somewhere, watching over us."
"Well, it's about time He did more than just watch." With a frustrated edge to his voice, he exclaimed, "Do you hear me, God? It's not her time yet. It's not her time."
He felt red hot tears shooting into his eyes. "Dammit!" He abruptly got up from the chair and stood at the foot of the bed, gripping the metal bars in front of him.
Joan remained standing behind the chair for a few seconds. It was so hard to see him suffering like this. She thought he had been through enough heartache for a lifetime, and now this. Again.
She slowly approached him. "I know it's not fair. It never is."
"I just hate standing here, totally helpless. There isn't anything I can do to help her."
"Yes, there is."
He turned to face her, confusion mingling with sadness in his soft, brown eyes.
She touched his arm. "You can be here, watch over her, talk to her. You can help Jamie and Susan with the kids. Help out where you're needed."
He just nodded and she pulled him into an embrace. They stood leaning their bodies against each other for a long moment. Just before they separated, Joan whispered in his ear, "Be strong. For her. You think you can do that?"
He looked into his wife's eyes. "Yes, I think I can do that."
She smiled a small smile. "Good."
Adam walked back over to Louisa's side, leaning down to kiss her forehead. "We'll see you tomorrow, Aunt Lou," he said in a low voice. "Get better."
Joan held out her hand and Adam took it. Together they walked out of the ICU room and down the hallway. An old lady with blond hair and gold rimmed glasses watched them leave, a hopeful, almost mischievous smile playing on her lips.