At first, Hailey wasn’t aware of the mask on her face, the IV in her arm, Rian squeezing her hand, or the fact a headache pierced through her skull. She just lay there dazed for a moment. But then, slowly, gradually, she started coming to life.
The first thing she became aware of was that stupid headache. She couldn’t really think of anything else, until she also noticed an annoying breathing mask on her face. A few seconds later it registered that she was in a hospital. Her eyes looked to her left. Rian was sitting, clutching her hand.
“Mphwut are you mdoing? Mphwut’s going gong?” The mask made it hard to talk clearly.
Rian sighed with tremendous relief. “You nearly gave me a heart attack, and I’m recovering. That’s what I’m doing.” He looked at her very seriously. “I’ll tell you what’s going on. While you were visiting Jaime, something happened and you couldn’t breathe, yet you didn’t do a thing about it until you were nearly brain dead from lack of oxygen. Jaime pressed the emergency button. When I saw nurses rush into the room, I freaked out and ran in there, and you had collapsed on the floor. I tried to ask you what had happened, but you weren’t responding to anything. Then you became unconscious. Hailey,” Rian eased his grip on her hand. She rubbed it, sure there would be a bruise. “The doctor said you have stress-induced asthma, and it’s pretty bad. He also said that you had had it for a while, about two years.” Rian paused. “I didn’t know anything about this.” He took her head in his hands and forced her to look at him. “You mean to tell me you have had this problem since dad died?! Hailey, do you understand that you really could have suffocated and died from an asthma attack?! Why haven’t mom and I known about this?”
Hailey suddenly felt really bad for scaring him so much. “I…I didn’t want you to worry. I didn’t think it was anything serious…I just thought it was something I would grow out of…Whenever I think of him…or get stressed out like that…my lungs just will contract and I have to force them to relax and I…I don’t know!” She blinked back tears, commanding them not to fall. They didn’t.
Just then a nurse and doctor entered the room.
“Well, Hailey, it’s a relief to see you awake. I’m Dr. Carmikle.” Hailey shook his hand. “I understand you had a little episode in the cancer treatment center.” Hailey blinked at the returning memory of Jaime lying in the hospital bed. “There, it’s all right. She’ll be doing fine, I heard personally.” Yeah, right. “Now, I’m going to talk to you a little bit about your condition and do an update on your health status. You were out of oxygen for a while.” He went over a bunch of stuff, basically saying she had stress induced athsma and it was a common condition. and would have to use an inhaler and she would be staying overnight. Then they did a few tests to see how she was recovering and whatever.
“Sarah will remove your mask now,” He said. The short yet plump young woman gently removed the uncomfortable contraption. Dr. Carmikle talked some more, demonstrating how to use an inhaler and talking to Rian about what he should do should Hailey have a serious asthma attack, then soon exited the room with Sarah.
The rest of the day was a blur. Mom came to see her, fussed over her, and she and Rian stayed most of the day until a nurse insisted they let Hailey have a rest. She napped and had a taste of the awful hospital food, and next thing she knew, it was the next day and she was leaving for home. She was glad to finally have some real food instead of the bland hospital meals, even though she technically didn’t have a hospital meal. Oh, well. Their mashed potatoes where absolutely horrid, and if you messed up mashed potatoes, you messed up everything.
Upon arriving home, her mom made her her favorite food and talked some more about what Rian already said, about how Hailey should have mentioned something a long time ago when it all started, before having to take an important call. She went to another room and left Hailey and Rian alone. She awkwardly pushed around some macaroni noodles with her spoon. Rian cleared his throat a few times before breaking the silence.
“So…how’s it going?”
She looked up at him. “Huh?”
“How is everything?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean…” Rian shrugged. “I dunno, I mean…I guess, how is it with you and…” He trailed off.
“Uh…Um, I uh, well, if you mean Jason and I, I guess it’s OK…I haven’t really seen him since our trip to Steak n’ Shake the other day, but…yeah, it’s been alright.” Hailey took another bite of macaroni and cheese.
“How’s Jaime doing?”
Hailey chewed on her upper lip. “I-I…I guess she’s doing…alright. I mean, she wasn’t just wasting away or anything like that, but…Rian! It’s not right!” Hailey slammed her fist on the table and put her face in the palm of her other hand. Tears spilled onto the old maple wood piece of furniture. “It’s just not right! Jaime has always been the happiest person I know. She cares about everyone, she’s always having fun at everything she does, she’s so optimistic about life, and…It’s just not right, her being in a hospital. In bed. All those tubes and needles and…and…And she loves that God of hers! She’s always talking about Him. She loves Him so much and is always saying how He loves everyone so much His Son came to die and that He can do anything. But…Rian, how could God allow this to happen? It’s not right. It’s not fair!” Rian was hugging her now. “It just isn’t fair!” Hailey screamed in her head to God. Why, God, why? Why Jaime? Of all people! She loves You so much. Don’t You love her too? Are You even listening to me? Are You there?
By now Hailey had quieted down some. She wiped her face and took a couple of breaths from her inhaler – her chest was feeling tight – before pushing her empty bowl away and leaning back in her chair. A few silent minutes went by before Rian stood up and walked out of the room. About 10 minutes later Jaime went to her own room. She laid on her bed and took a nap.
When she woke up, it was morning. She knew she should probably get ready for school, but she just didn’t feel like it. She didn’t really feel like doing anything, and besides. Her clock read 10:54. It just wouldn’t be worth it.
Pretty soon she decided she DID feel like eating, so she went downstairs to eat some Rice Krispies. The cereal made cheerful sounds as she poured the milk. Too cheerful. Jaime has cancer. Can’t you see? Just stop being so happy. She thought, slightly enjoying the sound anyway. Mom walked in the kitchen.
“Good morning, dear. I decided you must be exhausted and called the school telling them about your predicament and you wouldn’t be coming today. I also got the day off work. I got a few movies at RedBox you might like to see, and I thought we could order a pizza and have a fun little movie date together.” Mom seemed unusually happy and bubbly. Hailey was getting annoyed at all the ‘cheering up.’
The day dragged by. She had to admit that the movies were good and she kind of enjoyed having some quality time with her mom, but she just couldn’t seem to get her mind off the fact that Jaime really, truly had cancer. Like, cancer, cancer. And she couldn’t stop thinking about whether or not God existed. Jaime always talked like He did, and she was starting to think maybe she was true. But then CANCER had to come along, and that chaced away almost all doubts.
Really, God. If You can hear me, and if You love me, and if You love Jaime, why don’t You do something? Do You ENJOY seeing my best friend lying in a bed, with CANCER?! Do You find that funny or something? Hello? Hellooo, God, I’m talking to You! Are You there? Guess not.
After pizza was eaten and movies where watched, Hailey sent Jaime a short text message saying she was fine and asking for an update on things. Then she got making a card. She smiled, and laughed a little, as she took glitter glue and drew a little apple. Hailey and Jaime had an inside joke about apples.
When they had just recently became friends, around age 5 or 6, they were on a class field trip to an apple orchard. They took a tractor ride and saw the cider press and learned how they started the orchard with just a few seeds, and after some cups of apple cider were tasted they were told they had a few minutes to pick some apples of their own before heading back. All the little kindergarteners were too short to get very many apples, but Hailey and Jaime worked together and got quite a few; Jaime would climb a shorter tree and shake a branch, and Hailey would gather the apples that fell. If none fell, Jaime would hang onto a branch, making it hang low enough for Hailey to pick from. Jaime was shaking a branch with a good amount of apples on it, when a little boy with very red cheeks noticed their good fortune and ran over to help himself to the apples. Just before he was about to stoop down and pick up the red fruit, Jaime shook the branch especially hard and an apple hit him on the head! They all laughed, and later Hailey told Jaime that she had a crush on him, and his red cheeks reminded her so much of apples, and he got hit by one, they called him ‘Apple Boy.’ Ever since, when they saw a cute couple or one of them had a crush, they called the guy ‘Apple Boy.’ It was also a name for a cute guy in general.
It wasn’t the best, but you could at least tell it was an apple. Taking some markers, Hailey wrote “Apple Boy says to get well soon!” At the bottom, then wrote a short, sweet message inside. After leaving it to dry, Hailey went to get some crackers when she bumped into Rian.
“Ooph! Rian, what are you doing?”
“What do you mean, what am I doing? This is my home, isn’t it?”
Hailey glanced at the clock, and saw it indeed was time for him to be home from school. Hm. Time passed quicker than she thought. “Oh.” She proceeded to go on her way towards the kitchen, when Rian said to wait.
“Uh, Hailey, I was thinking…It’s been really tough for you in a matter of 24 hours. You just aren’t really yourself, and I know you’ll need some time, but…I thought, you know, to get your mind off of everything for a bit, you and I could go with my friend Jake to the lake in his new boat. We’ll even get lunch and stuff.”
Hailey concidered this for a minute. “Alright, I guess.” She playfully messed up his hair and darted into the kitchen as she shouted, “But only if you’re the one paying for the food!”
Rian growled and chased her around, finally tossing her over a shoulder and plopping her on the couch before tickling.
As they both caught their breath, Rian gave Hailey a small hug. “There’s the Hailey I know.” She sighed deeply before going back to her room (with the crackers) and sitting cross legged on the floor. She glanced at her dad’s picture. A ballet recital was coming up, and it would be very painful for him not to be there. Again.
She got up, sat on her bed and held the picture. Tears stung her giggling eyes, but not out of laughter. Obviously.
God, powerful, loves-everyone God. Are You there?
Very long, but I know you like long parts (who doesn’t?) and I’m sorry this took me longer than usual, but I’ve been having tests and stuff and life isn’t always the easiest for me and…yeah. But it’s here, and I know it’s a little bit boring, but get a few boxes of tissues for the next chapter!
Love you all sososososososososososoooooo much who still read this!
Comment with suggestions!
C’mon, gimme all you got!
lol would luv to hear from you though.
p.s. I have absolutely no experience whatsoever with any kind of asthma, so if (and when) something about Hailey’s asthma doesn’t seem right, please tell me how I can fix it.