A/N: I know…over a year since the last update. I'm truly sorry, but RL has made me her bitch. I cannot by any means promise when the next update will be but I promise to try my best to get it out faster than this one.
Song for this chapter is Say Something by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera.
Three weeks. It had been three weeks since Bella's attempted suicide and she hadn't woken up yet. The doctors couldn't explain it, they had lifted her medically induced coma after the second week, and when Bella didn't wake up, all they were saying was that sometimes after severely traumatic events the mind shuts itself down as a way to cope heal itself. That answer didn't sit well with me. I wanted a medical explanation for why my wife wasn't awake yet.
I should be grateful that things had even turned out the way they had. From what the doctors had said, Bella was what they called a "one in a million" case. She had so many injuries when she had been brought in, and after that first surgery, she had to go back under the knife a second time when it seemed as though she was turning septic. Some of the sutures in her intestinal tract had managed to open up creating an infection in her gut. The doctors caught it quickly enough but still had to amp up the level of antibiotics she was on, which was a bit of a delicate balance as it was considering how sensitive her damaged kidney was.
This whole thing was such a complicated mess. For all the progress Bella would make towards a recovery, it seemed like she always would take two steps forward and five steps back. She'd start to heal, but then develop an infection. She'd stabilize enough to get off the ventilator, but by the next day would go into respiratory distress and need to be intubated again. Her kidney would be looking better, then it wouldn't be, then it would, then the doctors would be talking about removing it all together. I felt like I was on a roller coaster that I couldn't get off of. I didn't know how much more I could take.
Doctors, my mother, and my friends all tried talking about "options". Apparently options is code word for making the decision to not give my sick wife the chance to live again. DNR, heroic and extraordinary measures, quality of life…all these phrases got thrown at me. I couldn't make those decisions though. All I could ever muster was to tell everyone that I wanted everything and anything possible done to save Bella and get her well. But now…sitting here, holding her cold hand as she gets closer and closer to her fourth week of being comatose…I can feel myself questioning my resolve, feel myself beginning to give up. Maybe this is the price I was supposed to pay for all of the mistakes I've made. Maybe the cost of my being an asshole is losing my wife.
I prayed every day for God to intervene, to wake Bella up. If not for me than for Elliot, Michael, and Sammi. They needed their mother and it seemed like the longer it took for her to wake up, the more scared they became. They were supposed to start school in a few days, but none of them wanted to go, and I couldn't blame them, which is why I arranged for them to have private tutors to homeschool them for the time being…
Walking into the house after just getting back from the hospital, I tell the kids to go get themselves a snack and pick out a movie for us all to watch. I want them to try to enjoy this last bit of summer they have left before going back to school. As much as I don't want them too far away from me right now, I know they need the chance to maintain some sense of normalcy.
Elliot is still waiting for me in the kitchen even though his brother and sister have already run into the den to start sorting through our DVD collection.
"Dad…" he says, his voice nervous and shaky.
"What's up El?"
"Well…it's just…" He trails off, unsure of how to get the words out. I give him the time he needs to collect his thoughts and begin again. "You see… Michael and I were talking and…well, we know school is starting soon, but we really don't wanna go back there. Everyone will be asking us questions about Mom and honestly…we don't wanna be too far away when she wakes up. We want to be able to see her right away."
I'm so caught off guard by what he says. I had figured they would want the normal routine of school and their friends, but I never considered how hard it would be for them to have to deal with everyone knowing what happened to their mother and asking them questions about it. As for them wanting to be near Bella when she woke up, I knew I shouldn't indulge them too much in that line of thinking. We didn't yet know when or if she would wake up, but I didn't want to kill their hope yet. All of them, once they heard that for the most part Bella was out of the "danger zone," they all seemed to have their hope growing day by day as they waited for her to wake up. At least until the this week. It seems like its sinking in that she's been asleep too long, that maybe mommy won't wake up. It seems now like every day their hope is dying a little bit more. Which is why if not going to school is what they want, it's what I'm going to give them.
"Okay El. You don't have to go back to school." I tell him. "But I will expect you and your brother to work with a tutor for homeschooling and you will follow the curriculum you would have learned if you were back in school. And, once things get back to normal, you will go back to school. Deal?"
Elliot's hug as he agreed was all I needed to know I made the right decision to agree to his request.
"Please Bella," I whisper against the palm of my wife's hand. "Please wake up. If not for me, then for the kids. I know I've been horrible to you. I know you won't believe me when I tell you I want us to work on things…that I've been going to a counselor to sort my shit out. I don't blame you for not believing me. I haven't given you much to hang your trust on in terms of our relationship and how I treat you, but I want to prove to you that I can be the husband I used to be before everything got so fucked. Please baby, give me that chance."
I've never done so much begging in my life. Or so much self reflection. And let me tell you…it sucks. If I'm not here at the hospital or home with the kids, I'm at my therapists office. I knew I needed to start getting my shit together. I needed to be a better father, a better husband. Its been hard. I don't like having to take responsibility for everything I've done wrong, but it's helping. My therapist and I have been going through one of Bella's journal entries each time we meet and using that as a starting point. Every time I leave Aro's office I feel so emotionally raw…like someone just spent an hour scrubbing my skin with Brillo pads and bleach.
"…I guess that's when I started feeling different. I felt so bad about almost ruining Edward's dinner. I tried apologizing afterwards, but he just dismissed the issue, saying it was done and over with already. But it wasn't done. He managed to find ways to remind me of how I failed him, how he had to come and clean up the mess I made. I felt like a failure. I had always been able to make Edward happy and take care of our home and now it seemed like I couldn't any more. I tried to talk to Alice and Rosalie, but it seemed like they didn't understand or couldn't be bothered with my problem. Alice just told me to brush it off, that Edward was probably just having a stressful time at work, and that I should just be happy about not having to worry about taking care of the house anymore. Rosalie just told me to talk to Edward about it since it was mine and his problem and not hers.
I tried to make the best of things, but each day when the staff showed up it was like it was a reminder of my failure, my weakness that I couldn't take care of my own house. Edward was staying later and later at work too so I barely even got to see him anymore. It was as though we were just two people living in the same house. At one point we went three weeks without seeing each other, and another time we went almost two months without even exchanging so much as a hello. He was always a good father though, and made sure he made time for the boys, took them places, and showed up for all of their important school events. It was as if he had forgotten all about me, as if everything else overshadowed me, and I was just lost somewhere in the background. I felt invisible…"
Dr. Aro closes Bella's journal as he finished reading the entry we're starting from today and I feel like I have a knife twisting in my stomach. Had I really been so horrible. So self absorbed and worried about trying to make a name for myself…worried that I needed to keep doing bigger and better things with my company to prove that I was a good husband and father…a good provider that I lost all sight of what was important? Apparently I had.
"So tell me Edward," Dr. Aro begins. "What was so important about that dinner that the fact that Bella was running late made you react that way?"
I'm not sure how to respond…the truth is I do, but the truth hurts…especially when the truth is proof how how big a failure you are when it comes to being a compassionate human being.
"I…I was afraid," I admit.
"Of…" Dr. Aro prompts. He never does let me half ass an answer.
"Of the board thinking I wasn't as good a leader as my father. I can still remember being a kid and all the board members coming to our house for dinner. Everything was perfect. Every crystal class sparkled, every piece of silver flatware shined. Mom always had the meal ready to be served on time. I knew thats what they would expect from me…expect from a suitable replacement for Carlisle Cullen…and Bella… she forgot…and in my mind I felt like it was going to make me look imperfect…look incompetent."
"And so you took it out on her?"
"Yes," I reply, more ashamed of myself than ever. "I…I know now that it was wrong. I shouldn't have treated her that way. I should have spoken to her. Been honest about everything…how I was feeling, why I was so stressed about the dinner. More importantly I should have apologized to her after yelling at her."
Dr. Aro and I continue talking about other things from Bella's entry before he tells me our time for the day is up. As I go to leave he says one more thing to me.
"Edward," he begins. "I want you to think about something. So much of how you behaved, of who you've been has been based off of the need to fill this idea of perfection you think your father embodied and exhibited. Think about that, about what your mother told you in regards to the truth about your father's glaringly obvious lack of perfection. And think about how you want your children will act when trying to follow in your footsteps one day. Do you really want them to try to be what you or your father thought was perfect? Or do you want them to find their own way in the world, with a chance to not make the mistakes you did by being imperfect?"
Before I even try to respond he nods his head and tells me he'll see me in two days for our next session.
I guess Bella isn't the only one having trouble with two steps forward five steps back. Aro's a good therapist. He doesn't let me avoid the issues or cop out with a half assed answer to his questions. It's just that every time I feel like I'm starting to grow and understand what I did wrong and what I need to do to be better, he throws me curveballs which shine a light on a whole other set of issues and problems I need to sort through. Some days it seems like it's all too much. Like the hurt and the pain and the struggle to improve are too hard and that I would just be better off giving up because there is no way someone as horrible as me could ever become a decent human being again.
Looking at the clock, I know it's about time for me to head home for the day. I give Bella a kiss on her forehead, tell her I love her and that I'll be back tomorrow and then head home to my children.
Nothing could have prepared me though for the next day when I walked into the hospital again. As I step off the elevator, I can see a flurry of movement inside Bella's room. Doctors and nurses rushing in and out. I run to her room to see whats wrong, afraid that she's taken another turn for the worse, but what I see as I stop in the doorway…almost makes my legs give out from under me.
My wife is awake. Her beautiful brown eyes are open.
"Bella!" I cry out. "You're awake." I try to make my way towards her. To wrap my arms around her and tell her how sorry I am for everything…that I'm working on being better. That I want to be better for her and our kids. I never make it within a foot of her bed. The doctors push me back away from her and when I try to fight my way past them, an orderly with arms the size of tree trunks steps in to push me back towards the door.
"What's going on? Why won't you let me near my wife?" I shout.
"Because I asked them to," Bella replies, her voice barely more than a hoarse whisper.
"Because Edward… look at what you've driven me to," her words are slow, and in her scratchy voice come out blunt and harsh and caustic. Nothing at all like the soft, sweet voice I know my wife possesses.
"I damn near killed myself Edward. Because of you. Because you're not the husband I married all those years ago. I'm through being your doormat Edward. I need to take care of myself now. Make myself better for the sake of my children."
She turns her head away from me as she starts to cry.
"Bella…baby please. I'm trying to be better. I'm in therapy. I'm working through things. I've read the journal you left and I understand now. I know I wan't fair or even remotely human towards you. I was a monster. But please… I want us to work through this. I love you Bella. I'd do anything…"
I'm grasping at straws, begging her to just listen to me, to hear me out so we can try to find our way out of this darkness together, but she cuts me off before I can even finish talking, and when she speaks, it is with a certainty and a resolve I never heard from her before, cutting me straight to my heart, leaving me broken and devastated.
"No Edward. Not this time. You gave up on me a long time ago. You promised me too many times that we would work on things and fix them, and not once did you ever follow through. Things only ever got worse. I have nothing to base any sort of trust in you on. So now.. this time Edward.. I'm giving up on you."
I try once more to plead with her. Beg for a chance to just talk, but she won't have it.
"Please just go Edward," she says. "I don't want to see you anymore. Don't come back."
A/N: Yeah… I'm still hiding in my closet, nursing that bottle of tequila. Hopefully, some of you are still here and reading this story. And if you are, I would greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the chapter in a review and I will try my best to respond to them all.