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Huda Orfali

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Euthanasia!
By Huda Orfali
Friday, June 15, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Huda Orfali
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Euthanasia!




The Connors were having their usual Sunday cookout. Lorrie had invited her father to join them, her husband was preparing the food, and the children were playing in the back yard. The father was still upset because his son-in-law had asked Lorrie to cancel her trip to the medical conference in San Diego. Why would he ask her to spend more time with him and the children? He never complained before!


Ralph never liked his son-in-law; he thought that he had married Lorrie for her money. She was a doctor and a scientist but she fell in love with a handsome young man, became pregnant and married her boyfriend before the child was born. She had three children, two boys and a girl. Her career took a different turn and she took a job at the local hospital. Her father was deeply disappointed and he blamed that on his son-in-law.


He watched her play with the children. She seemed happy but that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted her to marry a doctor and devote her life to medicine. He couldn’t picture that a cameraman could become his son-in-law! He tried to shake those ideas from his mind. It was over. Lorrie loved her husband and he was devoted to her and the children. That was the only thing that Ralph could not deny; Marc had made his daughter very happy. Their marriage lasted for twelve years.


“What’s taking you so long?” asked Ralph. He was feeling hungry. Marc was working very slowly. He looked drowsy and he had burnt some steaks.
“Do you like another beer, Ralph?” he asked casually. “I’ll get you one.”
He went to the kitchen slightly staggering, his hand clasped to the back of his head.


Marc was always nervous when Ralph was around. He always tried to avoid any contact. Ralph felt that tension but he didn’t go easy on him. In fact, he always treated him condescendingly. He never helped them with money even when Marc had lost his job and Lorrie had to work overtime in the hospital to pay the mortgage on their house; Marc took a job as a foreman in a construction site. Marc never asked him for help even when the times were hard. Somehow, Ralph enjoyed that.
“I told you so,” he would tell his daughter. “Your husband is good for nothing.”
However, that was a year ago.
“What’s taking him so long?” he said and went to the kitchen. He was appalled by what he saw; Marc was lying on the kitchen floor unconscious.


“Oh, my God!” screamed Ralph and rushed to him. Ralph was a retired physician. The first thing that came to his mind was that Marc had a heart attack. Marc was looking pale and breathless this morning but that didn’t really matter. He didn’t complain of chest pain; he was just looking woozy.
“It could be anything from a heart attack to a viral infection,” he thought.


Ralph checked his pulse; his pulse was very rapid and he was drenched in cold sweat but he was breathing. That was a good sign, he thought. He had no fever also so it couldn’t have been sunstroke. Ralph loosened his collar and elevated his legs. He wetted a piece of cloth with water and wiped his forehead. He also massaged his chest to keep blood circulating. He was about to call Lorrie when Marc opened his eyes.


“Marc, are you all right?”
“What happened?” asked Marc gasping. He looked a bit confused.
“You fainted, son. Do you feel any pain? Should I call Lorrie?”
“No, I’m fine.”


He stood up leaning against the wall and drank a glass of water. His right arm was twitching and he dropped the glass. He bent down to pick up the fragments.
“I’ll get it,” said Ralph.
He felt nauseated and vomited. He couldn’t stand up straight any more. Ralph held him in his arms and led him to a chair.


“What’s wrong with you, Marc?” Ralph was terrified.
“Nothing, it’s just a headache,” he said still gasping. “I must have been standing too long in the sun.”
“Do you want me to call Lorrie?”
“No, I’m really fine, Ralph. Oh, I forgot your beer.”


He stood up and went to the fridge; he reeled dizzily and clasped his head. Ralph rushed to him and held him as he was about to fall.


“I should call an ambulance, Marc. You look very ill.”
“No,”
“Marc, you need help.”
“Please, Ralph. I don’t want you to scare Lorrie or the children.”
“This is not just a case of heat exhaustion, is it?”
“No, Ralph. I’m afraid it isn’t,” he sighed.
“Did you see a doctor?”
“Yes, I’m afraid there’s nothing he could do.”
“Is it a tumor?”
“Yes, Ralph.”
“Sure there’s something he could do. Did he suggest craniotomy?”
“The doctor said that the tumor cannot be surgically removed without damaging vital tissue.”
“What about radiation or chemotherapy?”
“It’s an option but I’m not ready for that. It will only prolong my life for a while but it won’t cure the disease. The worst thing is that I’m gradually losing my sight. The swelling from the tumor is pressing on the optic nerve.”
“Are you taking any medications?”
“The doctor prescribed some pills for the pain but they just make me sleepy all the time.”
“Did you tell Lorrie?”
“No, I don’t want you to tell her either.”
“You have to tell her, Marc.”
“If she found out, she would force me to receive treatment. Ralph, I want to spend the time left with my family not in a hospital bed. Promise me you won’t tell her.”
“I promise,” said Ralph. “What is the prognosis?”
“Not good, two months, probably less.”
“Oh, my God. I’m really sorry, son.”
His eyes welled up with tears. He took him in his arms and embraced him with a fatherly passion. Lorrie walked in.


“What’s going on? Food is almost ready.”
Ralph wiped away his tears and said, “Nothing, sweetie. We’ll be right there.”
She looked at Marc, his face was extremely pale and he was still panting.
“Are you all right, dear?”
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“It’s the sun,” said Ralph. “He was standing too long in the sun.”
She touched his forehead; “You don’t have a fever.”
He held her hand and kissed it, “Don’t worry, Doc. I’m fine.”
“Let’s eat inside the house,” she said.
“Good idea,” said Ralph.
“I’ll help you,” said Marc getting up.
“Marc, you get some rest, dear,” said Ralph. “I’ll help her.”
This shifting attitude bewildered her. This was the first time Ralph was ever nice to her husband.


Marc had very little to eat and then went to his room. She followed him upstairs.
“Are you all right, sweetheart?”
“I have a headache. I’d like to sleep for a while.”
“That’s strange, you don’t like to sleep in the afternoon!” She kissed him on the forehead. “Feel better?”
“Yes,”
“How about a massage?”
She fondled his hair lovingly and massaged his neck; he pushed her hand away.
“Not now.”
“What’s the matter, Marc?”
“Nothing, I told you, it’s just a headache. Please, let me sleep.”
“All right, darling.”
She left the room and went downstairs.


“How is he?” asked Ralph.
“He says it’s just a headache but I’m really worried about him, dad.”
“Why?”
“He doesn’t eat, even when he does he often vomits. I tried to convince him to have a physical but he laughed at the idea and said that he’s perfectly healthy.”
“Don’t push him, Lorrie.”
“You saw yourself. He hardly had anything to eat. He lost too much weight in the last two months.”
“Maybe he should look for another job, Lorrie. I mean he is not strong enough for that kind of labor.”
“I asked him to quit but he refused. He thinks that he’s the one who should put bread on the table not me.”
“Maybe, I can help.”
“I don’t think so, dad. He wouldn’t take money from you; he’s too proud.”
“What about his pictures? I mean he used to make good money.”
“He hadn’t taken a picture in more than two months! I mean photography was his passion, but now he doesn’t even touch his camera. He even sold his bike two months ago! He has changed a lot, dad.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s become very impatient. The things that used to make him laugh before irritate him now. He doesn’t play with the children and he complains that I don’t spend time with him.”
“Maybe you should spend more time at home, Lorrie. He needs you.”
“You know that I can’t help it, dad. He knew that being a neurologist is a very demanding job. He never had a problem with my work before!”
“Listen, honey. We all go through rough times in our lives; maybe he’s going through a rough time and he needs you to be with him. Don’t repeat my mistake, Lorrie.”
“You can’t forget about mom, can you?”
“She had a stroke while I was busy saving a patient.” Tears rushed to his eyes and his voice trembled, “If I had been with her, perhaps…”
She hugged her father and said, “It wasn’t your fault, dad. It was her time to go.”


She woke him up the next day. She was already dressed.
“What time is it?” he asked.
“Time to go to work, sweetheart. Listen; can you pick up the children from school today? I might be a little late.”
“OK.”
“Now get up, lazy. You’ll be late again for work.”
“OK,” he moaned softly and closed his eyes. The sunlight really bothered him. She kissed him and left the room in a hurry; he fell asleep again.


The school principal called her in the afternoon and asked her to pick up her children. He told her that he already called her house but nobody answered. She began to feel worried; Marc was never late to pick up the children. She called home,
“This is Lorrie; this is Marc. We’re not home right now. Please leave a message and we’ll call you back. Have a nice day.” She heard the beep; nobody answered. Her heart started pounding and she rushed home.


She picked up her children and drove home. Amanda was still crying and Chris wanted to go to soccer practice. She called his work; Jamie told her that he didn’t come to work today. When she arrived, she rushed to the bedroom. He was still sleeping.


“Marc, wake up.” She shook him anxiously. “Wake up.”
He opened his eyes; his look was completely blank.
“Marc, honey, are you all right?”
He rubbed his eyes; he looked a bit dazed.
“Lorrie!”
“Yes, honey. Are you all right?” He was very pale and drenched in sweat.
“Is it time to go to work?”
“Marc, it’s three in the afternoon!”
He jumped to his feet. “My God, the children!”
“I picked them up. Marc, did you take any sleeping pills?”
“No, I only took some aspirin for the headache.”
“How many did you take?”
“Two tablets. The headache was very bad, Lorrie.”
“Marc, you’ve been sleeping for the last twenty-four hours!”
“What?”
“Do you still have a headache?”
“I had a real bad headache in the morning but now it eased up.”
“Take a shower while I fix you something to eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Listen to me, you’ll get sick if you keep that up. Look at you, you look like a ghost.”
“A ghost, really funny.” He laughed and said, “Well, if you say so. I’ll just scare someone else.” He laughed again and went to the shower.


“I have to go back to the hospital, Marc.”
“All right, I’ll do the dishes.”
“Can you drive Chris to soccer practice?”
“Sure,”
“Don’t forget to give Amanda her allergy pills.”
“I won’t.”
“Oh, and Tom needs help with his science project. I promised him but…”
“I’ll help him. Any more chores I need to do?”
“Yes,”
“How about a kiss before I go to work?”
“A kiss! How about you start acting like a wife and a mother? How about you start spending more time at home with your husband and children? I can’t take this any more, doctor, I can’t take this any more,” he hollered at her.
“Marc, what happened to you?”
“I’m sick and tired of the whole thing. I’m sick and tired.”
He stormed out, took the car and drove away.


He drove for a while and then went to see Ralph. He was very pale; his hand clasped to the back of his head.
“What happened, Marc? You look upset.”
“I lost my tempers and lashed out at Lorrie. I said things I shouldn’t have said. I don’t feel like me any longer. What’s happening to me, Ralph? I feel frightened, angry,” he gasped. “Ralph, am I going crazy?”
“No, but you need help and you need it fast. You’re wasting very valuable time.”
“I’m very tired, Ralph. Tired and very cold…”
He was sweating and his face reddened. He rubbed his stomach.
“It hurts, Ralph, it hurts.”


His arm started twitching and he uttered a scream. He clenched his teeth and his entire body was gripped by a jerking contraction; he fell to the ground unconscious.


After the seizure passed, he fell into a deep sleep. He woke up a couple of hours later feeling extremely exhausted and confused.
“How do you feel?”
“My whole body feels sore. What happened to me, Ralph?”
“You had a seizure.”
“A seizure! Like an epileptic seizure?”
“Yes, Marc. You should take anticonvulsant drugs to control the seizures. Did the doctor prescribe any?”
“Do you mean it could happen again?”
“Marc, I think you don’t understand the seriousness of your condition. The seizures could happen anytime, anywhere, while you’re driving the kids to school, or working on a scaffold. Do you understand what might happen then?”
“I do, Ralph.”
“Then for God’s sake, son, you should receive treatment.”
“I’m not ready,” he said gasping and massaged his throat.
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m thirsty.”
Ralph brought him a glass of water and watched him sip slowly.
“You’re having difficulty swallowing, aren’t you?”
“It’s OK.”
“No, it’s not OK. You’re dying and you’re acting like nothing has happened!”
“Ralph, could I spend the night here? I’m not strong enough to drive home.”
“Of course you can spend the night but you have to call Lorrie.”


Ralph brought him the phone and he called home; she didn’t answer. He didn’t leave a message on the answering machine.
“I’ll call her later.”
“Can I get you anything?”
“I just want to sleep.”


He woke up very early in the morning; his head was throbbing with pain. Ralph was sitting by his side. He felt very confused; he didn’t even remember where he was.
“Where am I?” he asked gasping.
“You spent the night at my house, Marc. You were very ill.”
“You’ve been up all night!”
“I couldn’t sleep. You were moaning all night.”
“Sorry!”
“Are you still in pain, son?”
“Actually, it didn’t stop all night.”


A feeling of sickness came over him; he tried to fight it but couldn’t help vomiting. His arm started twitching; he gasped, “It’s happening again.”
Ralph injected him with Phenytoin. The convulsions were not so severe this time and he didn’t lose consciousness.


He went back to sleep and woke up an hour later, Ralph had dozed off beside his bed. He got dressed and drove to the construction site. He went to see Jamie, the supervisor.


“Marc, you’re late again,” said Jamie. “The boss is very angry with you. He wanted to fire you if I hadn’t convinced him otherwise. You come late or cut work…”
“Jamie,” he interrupted. “Listen to me.”
“You’d better come up with a good excuse or else.”
“I have to quit, Jamie.”
“Quit! I spent the whole afternoon yesterday sweet-talking the boss and you want to quit? Do you mind telling me why?”
“I have to.”
“Did you find a better job?”
“I’m sick, Jamie.”
“Listen, take a few days off until you get better. I’ll talk to Jack. I’m sure he will understand. He’s not a bad guy!”
“I will not get better, Jamie.”
“Don’t say that. Jesus, your wife is a doctor; she can fix you!”
“She is a doctor but not a miracle worker, Jamie. I’m dying.”
Jamie was stunned. “No, you’re too young. It can’t be that bad!”
“I have brain cancer, Jamie.” He held Jamie’s hand. “I have less than two months to live.”


Around noon, Lorrie came to see her father. She let herself in with her own key and looked for her father.
“Daddy!” She was surprised to see the bedroom in a total mess.
“Lorrie! What are you doing here?”
“Are you all right, daddy?”
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“What happened here? Looks like you had a bad night.”
“The worst night of my life, Lorrie.”
“Do you want to tell me about it?”
“I had a few drinks, that’s all. What’s wrong with you? You look upset.”
“It’s Marc. We had an argument last night and he didn’t come home.”
“I know.”
“You know!”
“He slept here, Lorrie.”
“Dad, you’re not covering up for him, are you?”
“No, Lorrie. He did spend the night here. His clothes are still here.”
“That smells awful. You guys didn’t get that drunk!”
“No, Lorrie. The truth is…”
“What is it, dad?”
His eyes welled up with tears. He couldn’t face his daughter’s bewildered look.
“Are you all right, daddy? You’re not dying, are you?”
“Why do say that?”
“I mean you’ve been acting weird lately. God, you and Marc have become friends! I didn’t expect that to happen in a million years! Look at this place! Someone must have been really sick last night. Please, daddy, tell me the truth.”
“Someone is very sick, Lorrie, but it’s not me.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s Marc.”
“Marc! What’s wrong with him?” she was terrified.
Ralph remembered his promise. He wanted so much to tell her but he couldn’t break the terrible news.
“Stomach infection. He was very sick last night so I let him sleep here.”
“Where is he now?”
“He drove away while I was sleeping. Probably he went to work.”
“And he left this mess uncleaned. I can’t believe he did this!”
“Go easy on him, will you?”
“I can’t believe you’re defending him!”
“He needs you, Lorrie. He was very upset because he hurt your feelings last night.”
“That doesn’t give him the excuse to act like that. I really can’t believe he did this!”


Marc was driving home feeling extremely dizzy and in pain. He drove as slowly as possible to avoid any accident. He stopped at a red light, his eyes dazzled by a strange glare. The traffic light turned green but he didn’t move his car. The cars behind him blew their horns. A driver shouted,
“Move your car,” but he didn’t budge.


A policeman approached his car; Marc had covered his face with his hands.
“Would you please move your car, sir?”
“Help me,” he said in an anguished voice but didn’t remove his hands.
“What’s the matter, sir?”
“I can’t see anything. God, I can’t see.”


Lorrie was paged several times.
“They really need me at the hospital, dad.”
“Go ahead, I’ll clean this up.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Lorrie, when you see Marc, don’t give him a hard time, will you?”
“I won’t.”


She drove to the hospital thinking what had changed her father. She tried her best to bring them closer together but that didn’t work and now they suddenly became best friends. “That’s weird,” she thought.
She parked her car and entered the hospital.


“Hello, Cathy. Did you page me?”
The nurse was very perplexed.
“What’s the matter, Cathy?”
“Doctor, it’s your husband. He was admitted an hour ago.”
“My husband?” she said stunned. “Marc!”
“Yes, doctor. I think it’s a car accident. They are doing a CT scan right now.”
“Oh my God,” she screamed and ran to the CT scan suite.


Doctor Calvin Cox was attending her husband.
“How is he, Calvin?”
“The police officer said that he complained of his eyes before he lost consciousness.”
“His eyes!”
“He said he couldn’t see anything, just glares.”
“Oh my God! What do you think the problem is?”
“We’ll know better when we print out the images.”


He shoved the film under the edge of the view box; it revealed massive areas of abnormal growth in the brain.
“Brain tumor!” she gasped.
“It looks bad, Lorrie. Probably grade IV, too much swelling and fluid buildup, edema. Pressure on the optic nerve caused by swelling.”
“What should we do?”
“We must shunt the excess fluid right away, give him steroids to relive the swelling and intrathecal chemotherapy to stop the tumor from spreading to the spinal cord.”
She stifled a scream. “Is the brainstem also affected?”
“Yes, I’m really sorry,” said Calvin. “It’s too late.”


She called her father; her voice was trembling.
“What’s the matter, honey? Are you all right?”
“It’s Marc, daddy. He was admitted to hospital this morning.”
“What happened, Lorrie? Is he all right?”
“He’s dying, dad. He’s dying.”


Ralph rushed to the hospital. Lorrie was on the verge of breakdown.
“Is he awake, Lorrie?”
“Yes, but he doesn’t want to talk to me. He asked the nurse to throw me out.”
“What happened?”
“My God, why didn’t he tell me earlier? I could have helped him.”
“He said he wanted to spend the time left with his family…”
“You knew about this?”
“Yes, Lorrie.”
“You knew he was dying and you didn’t tell me!”
“He made me swear. He didn’t want to scare you.”
“Daddy, you’re a doctor for God’s sake.”
“I did my best to help him, Lorrie. ”
“Painkillers! Do you call that help? He’s my husband.”
She burst into tears. Ralph tried to hug her but she pulled away.
“You helped him kill himself, dad. That’s what you did. You just helped him kill himself.”


Ralph went to see him. He was heavily medicated but he was awake.
“How are you feeling, son?”
“Ralph!” he gasped.
“Yes, I’m here, son. I’m here.” Ralph held his hand.
“Ralph, I need to ask you a favor.”
“Yes, dear.”
“Please, tell Lorrie that I’m ready to die.”


Marc adamantly refused treatment. He specifically requested the doctors not to give him any chemo or radiotherapy. He only agreed to receive palliative treatment, drugs that would relieve the symptoms. He also refused to see Lorrie or his children.


She came to his room during the night while he was sleeping. He was moaning in pain and it broke her heart. She held his hand and kissed it.
“I’m sorry, Marc. You needed me and I wasn’t there for you,” she said sobbing. “I was very busy with my work and didn’t pay attention. I should have known something was wrong. You suffered all that pain silently because you didn’t want to hurt me. God, I’m a doctor! I should have known. I let you slip away from me.”
She kissed his hand again and pressed it against her heart,
“Please, forgive me.”


He opened his eyes; his pupils lacked normal reflexes.
“Marc, can you hear me, dear?”
He mumbled a few words; she couldn’t understand him.
“Marc, what’s wrong? Talk to me?”
His speech was completely unintelligible. He pulled his hand from hers and clutched his throat gasping for breath.
“Marc, I can’t understand you!” she screamed. Tears clouded her eyes.


His breathing was more of a rattle. His skin was livid and his lips turned blue. She looked at the monitor; she was startled. She kissed him on the forehead,
“Goodbye, my love.”


Doctor Cox walked in.
“What are you doing here, Lorrie?”
“I just wanted to say goodbye to him,” she wiped her tears.
Doctor Cox checked his vital signs and increased the dosage of medication.
“He’s dying, Lorrie. Vital signs are dropping fast. He can’t breathe on his own. He’s practically choking, Lorrie. I think we should put him on a respirator.”
“No,” she rasped.
“What are you saying, Lorrie?”
“Didn’t you hear him, Calvin? He wants to die.”


Twelve years ago, she was a senior resident. She was working in ER when a young man was wheeled in. He had a gash in his right arm and he needed stitches.
“Quite a gash,” she said. “It must have been a big fight!”
“Things got a little out of hand,” he said.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Marc Connor,”
“OK, Marc. Does this hurt?” she checked for any nerve damage.
“Yes,” he gasped.
“Good, you’re fine. No nerve damage. A few stitches would do the trick.”
“What’s your name?” he asked.
She shrugged, “Doctor Stevenson.”


After she had finished cleaning and stitching the wound, she said,
“I’ll prescribe some antibiotics to prevent infection, something for the pain as well.”
She applied the dressing and wrapped the wound with bandages.
“Keep it raised and keep out of trouble,” she said, “You can go.”


In the evening, she was watching television with her father. Her father wanted to watch the news. She didn’t really want to hear it and was about to leave the room when she heard this piece of news:
“A protest outside an abortion clinic turned sour today when a protester attacked an obstetrician with a knife. A cameraman at the scene saved the doctor’s life when he struggled with the assailant and took the knife away, receiving slight injuries. The cameraman, Marc Connor, refused to be treated at the clinic and was rushed to a nearby hospital.”
“My God, he was my patient, dad,” she said. She felt sorry for the way she had treated him.


The next day, she called him at work.
“Hello, Mr. Connor. How is your arm?”
“Fine, who is this?”
“I’m doctor Stevenson.”
“Well, I managed to keep out of trouble for the last twenty-four hours.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“You must have seen the report on TV last night!”
“Yes, I think what you did was very courageous.”
“Not that he deserved it.”
“Well,”
“You still haven’t told me your name?”
“Lorrie, Lorrie Stevenson.”
“Thanks for calling, Lorrie. You did a good job with the stitches. My arm feels great.”
“I’m glad to hear that, Marc. Goodbye,” she hung up.


The next day, he sent her roses with a note, “Now I will always have something to remember you by, Marc.”
“Lovely roses,” said Ann. “Who is the lucky guy?”
“No, it’s from a patient. I stitched his arm yesterday. Maybe this is his way of saying thanks.”
“Are you talking about the famous cameraman?”
“Yes,”
“Well he’s very handsome, don’t you think?”
“So what?”
“Come on, you need some excitement in your life. I haven’t seen you dating since you broke up with Doctor Jefferson, seven months ago!”
“Ann, I do not date patients.”
“He’s not your patient any more,” said Ann laughing. “If you don’t want to date him, I will.”


He called her in the evening and asked her out to dinner. Next Sunday, he took her out on his bike to the lake. Next weekend, he took her on a boat. She wasn’t used to that kind of adventures but she felt very happy when she was with him. On their third date, they made love.


They dated steady for about four months. Finally, she decided to introduce him to her father. Ralph was a GP and he had very high expectations for his daughter. He didn’t approve of this relationship and he wasn’t very nice to Marc when he met him.


“I’m really sorry, Marc. My father was rough on you.”
“It’s OK, darling. I can understand.”
“Then you’re not angry?”
“I’m sure he’ll come to accept our relationship one day. Right now, I just want you to be happy,” he kissed her hand.
“Marc, there’s something I have to tell you.”
“What is it, sweetie?”
“I missed my period this month,”
“Huh!” he gaped.
“I’m pregnant.”
He reeled in his place.
“Are you sure? Do you mean there’s a little baby inside you?” he said gasping. She was taken aback by his reaction.
“Look, Marc. You don’t have to feel responsible. I mean if you want out of it, I’ll understand.”
His eyes filled with tears, “I can’t believe you’re saying this, Lorrie. I love you.”
“I know you’re too young and haven’t finished college yet.”
He put his hand on her stomach, “Listen,”
“What?”
“I think Tommy is trying to tell me something.”
“You named him already!”
“Hush, what is it, Tommy? You want me to give Mommy her birthday present?”
“My birthday is three days away!”
“Well, Tommy is in a hurry to give you your present now. Close your eyes.”


She closed her eyes. He took her hand and slipped a ring on her finger.
“My God,” she screamed. “An engagement ring!”
“I wanted to give it to you for your birthday but I think now is a more suitable time.”
He kissed her, “Marry me, Lorrie.”
She was stunned. “You’re not doing this just for the baby, are you?”
“No, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
“Marc, you’re only twenty-one!”
“I know I’m a bit young but it doesn’t matter. I have a decent job, a decent place to stay. We can manage. Lorrie, a family of my own! I’ve been dreaming about this all my life. You just made me the happiest person on earth. Thank you, Lorrie. I’m sure Tommy feels the same way too.”
“What if it’s a girl?”
“I’ll name her Lorrie, just like her mother.”


She told her father that evening that Marc had proposed to her.
“I’m sure you said no,”
“Actually father, I said yes.”
“What? Are you marrying that opportunist?”
“Please, daddy, don’t say that about Marc.”
“I can say what I like. I don’t want you to marry that…”
“But I’m carrying his baby,” she screamed.
“You slut,” he slapped her on the face. “You slept with him!”
She rushed out crying and drove away.


She drove to Marc’s apartment and let herself in with her keys. Marc was sleeping; he was startled by her unexpected appearance.
“Lorrie!” he gasped. He got up and put on some clothes.
She was still crying. He took her in his arms and didn’t ask her what happened. He just held her and let her cry. Two weeks later, they got married.


Seven months later, while she was on her way to work she had her first contraction. She drove to the hospital and they called her husband.
“I’ll be right there,” he said.
Before driving to the hospital, he went to see her father.


“Mr. Stevenson,” Marc was still gasping.
“Is she all right? What happened to my daughter?”
“She’s fine, sir,” he said, “She’s in labor. They just called me from the hospital. I thought you should know.”
“How thoughtful!” said Ralph sarcastically.
“Mr. Stevenson, don’t shut your daughter out of your life. She needs you to be with her and you need her as well. She’s very upset and thinks about you all the time. I hate to be the reason for a rift between you and your only daughter.”
“Sure that didn’t stop you,”
“I love your daughter, sir, and I can’t imagine my life without her. Please, sir, I grew up without a father and my mother died when I was a child. I know how important family is, especially now that I will become a father. She loves you very much, sir. The doctor says that the baby will be born in a couple of hours. Please come to see her.” He wiped away a tear, “Excuse me, sir. I really have to rush to the hospital.”


“It’s a boy,” said the doctor, “A very beautiful and healthy little boy, Lorrie. Congratulations!”
Marc held the little boy in his arms and his eyes welled up with tears,
“He’s beautiful, Lorrie. He’s so beautiful. Thank you, Lorrie.”
“He looks like his daddy, “ she said proudly. “Don’t you, Tommy?”
“I’m afraid he looks like his grandfather,” said Ralph.
“Daddy,” she screamed with joy.
“He’s very beautiful, Lorrie. Congratulations!”
“Excuse me,” said Marc. “I have some paper work to do.”
He left them alone to patch things up.


Her greatest joy was to watch him play with Tommy and hear them laugh. Marc used to play with Tommy for hours. He would carry him around the room and say,
“Tommy is flying. Watch out. Here comes the flying Tommy.”


Two years passed and every day brought her a new surprise. Marc had made her very happy.
“I want five children before I’m forty,” he said. “I’m willing to change as much diapers as it takes.”
“Good, because eight months from now, you will be changing lots of diapers.”
He screamed with joy and held her in his arms.
“Marc, put me down.”
“No,” he put his hand on her stomach. “Mommy is having a baby. Did you hear that, Tommy? There’s a little tiny baby in here. You’re going to have a brother.”
“A brother,” mumbled Tommy in his sweet voice.
“Yes, a brother.”
“Marc, it could be a girl, you know.”
“I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl as long as you’re both fine.”
He held Tommy as well, “As long as you’re all fine.”


Lorrie had a baby boy; she named him Chris. After that she didn’t listen to her husband’s pleas and decided not to have any more children before Chris was five. Then she became pregnant again. This time she had a girl.
“Finally, I had my little Lorrie,” he said.
“No, I want to name her Amanda, after my mother.”


Once, he went to pick her up from the hospital when the paramedics wheeled in an elderly man on a stretcher. The old man lay motionless and his head sagged onto his shoulders.
“Pupils are not responsive,” said one of the paramedics. “Possible CVA.”
“Vital signs, IV, stat,” said Lorrie. “I need a brain scan ASAP.”
The medics rushed the patient into the CT scan suite.


Marc stood there petrified; Lorrie noticed that he was still there.
“You OK, sweetheart?”
“I’m fine.” He was drenched in sweat.
“Listen, why don’t you wait for me outside? You look like you’re going to faint.”
“OK,”
She sent him a note that she would be late. He drove home and waited for her there.


She came home around midnight. She found him sleeping on the couch; Amanda was asleep in his arms. She took her to bed and woke him up.
“Marc, wake up, sweetheart. Let’s go upstairs.”
He followed her silently.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”
“How is the old man?”
“Cerebral hemorrhage; we had to put him on life support.”
“Lorrie,” he sighed. “I want you to promise me something.”
“What is it, sweetheart?”
“If something like this ever happened to me, please let me die.”


A year ago, she came home from work one night and found him pacing around the room in the middle of the night. He was very pale and breathless.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,”
“What happened?”
“Nothing, I told you I’m fine.”
“Marc, I’ve never seen you so upset. What happened?”
“I was laid off from work.”
“What?”
“The director told us today that he had to make some job cuts because of financial difficulty. David and I were fired.”
“I’m so sorry, sweetheart.”
“It’s OK. I’ll look for another job tomorrow,” he said panting.
“Come here,” she held him in her arms. “Everything will be just fine.”
He uttered a muffled cry of pain and pulled away, his hand clasped to the back of his head.
“Marc, are you all right?”
“No, I’m not. I have a terrible headache, Lorrie. Even my teeth hurt.”
“When did that happen?”
“In the morning, when I heard the news.”
“Did you take anything?”
“I took an aspirin but it didn’t help. It only got worse during the day.”
She checked his temperature, “No fever?”
“No, but my stomach hurts bad. I feel really sick.”
“I’ll give you something to relieve the pain. Tomorrow, come with me to the hospital for a checkup.”


When she woke up in the morning, she didn’t find him in bed. He left her a note that he would be looking for a job. He didn’t have much luck; he remained unemployed for six months.


“I’m worried about him, dad,” said Lorrie. “He’s become very depressed lately.”
“It was really hard on him to lose his job like that,” said Ralph. “He worked there for eleven years!”
“He has changed, dad. He hardly eats, sleeps restlessly and wakes up early in the morning feeling tired, depressed. He doesn’t play with the children any more. I can’t remember when was the last time I heard him laugh.”
“Lorrie, he’s not a kid any more. He’s a mature man with big responsibilities on his shoulders, a wife, three kids and a mortgage on his house.”
“He never let us down, dad.”


Marc walked in, “Hello, Ralph, good to see you.”
“How are you?” asked Ralph.
“OK,” his hand was clasped to the back of his head.
“You look worn out.”
“Well, I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Just last night?”
“Did she complain?”
“She’s concerned about you.”
“I’m fine. I’m really fine.”
“Any luck with the job-hunt?”
“My friend Jamie just called. He said he found me a job.”
“What kind of a job?”
“A foreman at a construction site, I’m going there right away.”


He took the job but his condition did not improve a bit. In fact, he was always tired and he lost too much weight. He didn’t complain but Lorrie was getting very worried. She asked him repeatedly to have a checkup but he refused adamantly. She even asked him to quit his job.


“I can’t bear to see you wasting away like this. This depression has gone too far.”
He sighed, “I’m not depressed, honey. I’m just tired.”
“Well, if it’s not depression what is it then?”
“You worry too much.”
“Marc, you’re the most important person in my life.”
“Listen, why don’t we have a cookout on Sunday like we always did? The kids will have fun. They can invite their friends and you can invite Ralph.”
“I’m sorry, Marc. I have to fly to San Diego on Sunday, a medical conference.”
“Now you’re telling me!”
“I didn’t think you would mind.”
“I do mind, I want you at home with me and the children.”
“Marc, it’s important for my career.”
“Damn it, Lorrie. I told you we’d have a cookout on Sunday. Don’t forget to invite your father,” he said and stormed out of the house.


She called her father and invited him.
“I thought you had to go to San Diego on Sunday!”
“Well, the trip was canceled.”
“What happened?”
“Actually, dad, it’s Marc. He didn’t want me to go. He said I should be spending more time with him and the children.”
“You said it was important for you to go,”
“Dad, I really don’t want to upset him. Besides, I think he’s right. I haven’t spent much time with the children lately.”
“All right, dear. I’ll come.”
“Thanks, dad.”
“See you tomorrow.”


“He wants to die, Calvin. He wants to die.”
“Lorrie, this is murder. He can’t breathe on his own.”
“Please, Calvin. Let me grant him his last wish. I couldn’t help him live; I want to help him die.”
Calvin shrugged, “I’ll be doing my round. If you needed me...”
“I don’t think he will need you any more.”
Calvin left the room shaking his head, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”


His face turned completely blue and his blood pressure dropped to zero. His heart fibrillated then stopped beating.
“Goodbye, my love.”
She waited four minutes; then shocked his heart. He was unresponsive. Nurses came rushing to the room.
“What happened?” screamed Ann.
“He stopped breathing. I defibrillated him but…” she sobbed.
Ann defibrillated him again and massaged his heart repeatedly,
“Breathe, come on, Marc, breathe.”
Nothing happened. Ann looked at her friend; Lorrie looked away.


“He’s dead,” said Ann.
“I know,” she sobbed.
“I’m truly sorry.”
“Could you please leave us alone?” she rasped.
“Of course,” Ann and the other nurse left the room. They called Doctor Cox.


“The damage to the brainstem was massive,” said Doctor Cox in his report. “He died of a respirator brain.”


©1999


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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 6/18/2007
Thank you for sharing this story, Huda. It makes the reader think about life and it's "curves." My very best wishes to you,

Regis
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 6/16/2007
Harrowing story, Huda; very well penned!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :(

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