I woke up fairly late; I guess my body just needed the rest. I didn’t have any more dreams, that I remembered anyway. It was almost 10:30 and I headed straight into the shower.
I thought about Cassie as I showered and hoped she was feeling better today; it was hard to see her so worn out yesterday. I was looking forward to spending several hours with her. I decided to call her before I went up to the hospital and see if she would like me to bring her something for lunch.
After the shower I ate a banana and some toast for breakfast. I put peanut butter on the toast and laughed at myself for still being a bit bent out of shape about it.
Mom was right, sometimes I can be so childish!
I knew I had to go and check my e-mail again and I would have done anything to avoid it. But luckily, there wasn’t anything else on there from our mystery poet and I was very thankful.
I did some housekeeping while waiting for mom and that helped to pass the time. I called Cass and was lucky enough to catch her between therapy sessions. She was delighted that I would bring her some lunch and asked for something spicy from Bangkok and I promised her that I would bring it.
Truthfully, I think she was more excited about the prospect of the food than seeing me! But I could totally relate, remembering the hospital food I thought with a smile.
When Mom got here she told me that she was going to drop me off at the hospital and then go get her hair done. I thought that was nice, she was giving Cass and me some private time. She didn’t want any Thai food, so I called in an order for Cass and I and we stopped to pick it up on the way.
It smelled wonderful in the car and the journey to the hospital seemed to take forever because of that. I was really very hungry and decided that was a good thing.
When Cassie saw me come in the room she smiled a mile wide and I could tell how happy she was to see the food! Er, I meant me of course.
“Ooh,” she exclaimed, her eyes bright and sparkling. “What do we have?”
“The appetizer platter of course, spicy fried rice, shrimp panang and the spicy beef stir fry you like! Think I have enough food here?” I laughed, setting it all out on her tray table which was pulled up to a chair where she was sitting. I pulled another chair up opposite of it and dug through the bag for chopsticks and napkins.
“Hey, where is your mom?” she asked, taking her first mouthful of spring roll and making a blissful face. “Mm!”
“She went to get her hair done. Actually, I think she just wanted to give us some time alone, which was cool I thought. How was therapy this morning? Yesterday you looked wiped-out!”
“It was better this morning, but I’ll be tired like that after this afternoon’s therapy. They have me on the parallel bars walking, and that just zaps my energy. That’s why I’ve got some time to rest today, before they have me do that again.”
“Um, I’m sure that is tiring,” I answered, taking a bit of the shrimp panang, mixed with a little of the spicy fried rice.
“Yeah, you know you don’t think about things like that—getting tired just by walking a few steps I mean. I never had any idea it would be like this. We walk around all our lives, so who would think that being flat on your back for a few weeks would make your body totally lose its strength and muscle control. It just amazes me really.”
“I’m just so grateful that you are recovering so quickly. I know that’s not always the case with spinal cord injuries…” I trailed off. I thought about people who never recovered and offered yet another hasty prayer of thanks to God for Cassie’s ability to recover.
“Yeah, it really could have been totally different.” She was thoughtful for a minute while she took a bite of the beef, which made her tongue tingle from the heat. “Whoa mama! This is hot! But very, very good,” she grinned, wiping fake sweat off of her brow.
I giggled and then asked, “So, how is Dr. Gorgeous?”
Cassie gave a muffled snort and then grinned wickedly. “Well, he’s hotter than this beef!”
“Cassie!” I exclaimed, “What have you been doing?” I tried to sound indignant or outraged, but it didn’t come off well and she called me on it.
“You better let Adam do the acting, okay, because you really stink at it!” she laughed.
“Okay, okay I’m not an actress. I get the point. But…back to the point which was Dr. Gorgeous! C’mon on Cass, spit it out!” Her laughing abruptly stopped and I realized that there was something serious about Cass and Dr. Gorman and whatever it was, I hoped she didn’t get hurt.
“He’s, uh, I’m – uh, I’ve never known anyone like him. He is so dedicated to what he does, but every once in a while he breaks out of the doctor mode and just talks, like, like a normal guy. I don’t have a crush on the doctor part of him, really I don’t. I mean, people say that often time’s patients develop crushes like that. He helped me so much as a doctor, and I am so very grateful, but my feelings are different than that,” she told me, utterly serious.
“How different Cassie? Tell me,” I urged her.
“We talk about things that don’t have anything to do with my injury or recovery. Like when he comes to see me now, I mean he always asks how I feel or what I’ve done, but he really isn’t my doctor any longer, those are just questions that get him here I think. Mostly we talk about who we are, what we do, our families. I love hearing about his – his dad was in WW II and was in Greece, where he met Eleni, Georgio’s mother. They had a whirlwind romance and he married her. Then it took almost 2 years to get her into the states, but they finally succeeded when she was pregnant with their first child. Georgio is the youngest of 10 kids!”
“So, his given name is Georgio then? And he’s single?”
“Yes, his name is Georgio and he was married, but she died almost 7 years ago. They didn’t have any children; she had leukemia for about 10 years, before she died from it. It sounds very sad, doesn’t it?”
“Yes. I would imagine that something like that is all the more frustrating when you are a doctor and can’t really do anything. So what else do you know about him?”
“Well, he’s 44 and as I said, the baby of the family. His oldest brother is almost 61. Both his parents are still living and spend about half of the year in Greece and half here. He has 5 brothers and 4 sisters and dozens of nieces and nephews and he dotes on all of them,” she told me as she was finishing her meal. She leaned back in the chair and laid her hand on her tummy, which even though she has been lying around for weeks, was as flat as ever. But then again, Cass never gains any weight! If you see her from behind, you would think she is a high school girl she is so lithe and petite.
We chatted for another hour until Mom came back, and Cassie’s mom and dad came in at the same time. Mom and I left shortly after that to give them time to visit and I promised Cassie I would talk to her later. I also told her I had a doctors appointment the next day and wasn’t sure when I would visit. I hugged her goodbye and it was so great doing that while she was actually sitting up in a chair!
Mom dropped me off at home a few minutes later and I wandered around aimlessly for awhile before picking up a book I had started to read before I went to Italy. That somehow seemed like a lifetime ago I marveled. So much had changed in my life since then, starting with Adam up on top of Monte Berico.
I had gone to Italy in the first place to see it again from a fresh perspective. I had enjoyed living there, it was wonderful, but there were things about it that were difficult too and I needed to lay some of those ghosts to rest.
Instead, I had met Adam and I found out that it wasn’t really necessary to let go of the old memories because I built so many new ones. Sometimes I guess it is best to let sleeping dogs lie I thought.
The thing about Adam is that he hasn’t only changed my life, but my family’s as well. Mostly by making me so happy, but it is so much more than that. He has been so welcoming of my family, of my life that it makes it so easy to be with him. There are no doubts lurking in my head or heart about the two of us and our ability to make this relationship work; it does work and will continue to work because it just fits!
I finally put the book down because I wasn’t getting any reading done anyway. I decided to put a CD on and then go and decide what to make for dinner. I looked through the CD’s, dismissing one after another before finally settling on The Beatles Yesterday and Today and when they started singing Baby You Can Drive My Car I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. At least it didn’t directly remind me of Adam…
Just then Bobby called and told me that his night instructor wasn’t going to be able to come in and he was taking the evening class, so not to make him anything for dinner. He wanted to know if I would be okay alone and if I wanted him to call mom and dad or anything.
I told him I was fine and I am. I’m getting impatient with everyone acting as if I’m fragile or something. I told him to eat what ever he wanted when he got home and that I’d see him later if I wasn’t up.
So the whole evening stretched ahead of me and it was amazing how lonely it felt. Before I went to Italy I loved these evenings, just chill-out time. Now I couldn’t imagine why I had loved them so much. Of course, I was working then, so down time in the evenings was so much more important. Now, I looked around me and groaned.
I suppose that my feeling of boredom was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t just hop in the car and go where I wanted to. I’m not even sure that I would, but if I could at least that would be an option.
I looked through my movies as spied the 6 movies of Adam’s that I have and briefly contemplated putting one in, but I knew that wouldn’t help anything. After watching River of Doubt last night I now see those movies differently; they are just characters that he has played, they aren’t him. Out of all of the movies I have seen him in I realized that I couldn’t think of a single one that is anything like him, the real Adam. I suddenly had the feeling that I would never enjoy watching one of his movies again because of that. Weird, I thought.
I spent the rest of the evening in the same state of mind, wandering aimlessly through the house looking for something to occupy my mind and never really finding anything. By 9:00 pm I had taken a long bath, performing all the necessary ablutions before a doctor’s visit and was curled up in bed, a cup of warm and fragrant cocoa steaming next to me on the nightstand.
The phone rang and I could have cried with joy when I saw it was Adam, even though the first thing I heard was a sneeze.
After greeting him I said, “Still sneezing?”
“Yes, but I’m going round to see the doctor in the morning; I was supposed to go this morning, but the doctor had some emergency. I think I just need some of my allergy medication. But I’ll be right as rain soon, I promise you. What about you, when are you seeing the doctor?”
“Tomorrow morning, and it can’t come too soon. I am really hoping she will let me drive Adam, I’m going stir crazy here,” I told him. While I was talking to him I was tracing the pattern on the comforter distractedly. I realized that I was fidgeting and abruptly stopped and then took a deep breath to try to pull myself back.
“Yes, I do understand love. How was Cassie today, did you have the nice long visit you were anticipating?”
“Yeah, yeah we did. She wanted some Thai food so we stopped at Bangkok and I brought her a feast and we both ate like greedy little pigs. It was very tasty, however not nearly so much fun because you weren’t here for me to poke fun at as I watch you try to eat with chopsticks!”
I heard his deep and warm chuckle and it made me feel a bit more comforted. I could almost imagine him here with me as he did it. “Well you know, I think I shall just have to practice and perhaps get a new start on it, shall I? Whatever would you laugh about then,” he teased.
“I’m sure I could find something,” I laughed. “How was your day?”
“Long and tedious, but ever so much better now. We ran through the scenes that we will film tomorrow, providing I can get through the scene without sneezing my bloody head off. I’m hopeful the doctor can help. I normally take a nasal spray that keeps me from this mess and it would be wonderful if the doctor can help. Uh love, the scene with Rachel, the um…” he trailed off.
“The love scene Adam?” I interjected.
“Uh yes. It looks like we are going to film it next week, while you are here. Are you going to be okay with that love?” I heard him sneeze again and then a quiet curse as he blew his nose. “Damn all this blasted dust. It’s everywhere, in everything.”
I smiled as I listened to him. Welcome to the mid-west I almost said, but I decided to keep that cynical comment to myself, he’d learn on his own all too soon. And then I thought about his question and what to tell him about it.
“Last night, I was bored before you called and I was flipping through the TV channels and I ran across River of Doubt. Cassie and I had seen it at the theater when it first came out, but I hadn’t seen it since then. So, I decided to watch it again. And I discovered something Adam; I realized it wasn’t you in the movie. I mean, uh, it was you, but it wasn’t Adam. Oh God, this sounds stupid, doesn’t it?” I asked, trying desperately to figure out how to say this to him.
“No, no love it doesn’t. Take your time, just say what’s on your mind,” he urged, somehow knowing I wasn’t done.
“I uh, realized that it was your body, but it was a different character. You were no more Nick in that movie than you were Sean in The Minute of the Miracle. Your body, your voice, but another character. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I realized that it is your job. In some way, even though you are portraying these people, they have nothing to do with who you are.”
I swear I heard him smile, as silly as that seems. “Yes, it is just my job, and sometimes it’s more difficult than others.” I knew he was referring to the scene with Rachel.
“I know Adam. I will be okay with that scene and any others in the future because I understand that it is your job, that it has nothing to do with your feelings for me or about us. That – that you don’t love or desire me any less because your character has to kiss Rachel Tomlinson. I will be okay with it all. I mean, part of me will hate it, but I’ll be okay.”
“Okay then, well remember you don’t have to be here to watch it. I - uh, actually it might be better if you see how it all goes together, it’s hardly romantic; people and cameras everywhere, stopping and starting as one of us has to move to get out of the others camera angle. Not romantic at all, I assure you. It’s all rather different when you see it in a theater; it looks so smooth and passionate.”
“Okay, we’ll see then. I’ll decide later if I want to watch it being filmed. Truthfully the day at the set in Vicenza was enough to show me that I could never do what you do!”
We were both quiet for a minute; I know I was thinking about him in Dallas, wondering what his life was like while I wasn’t with him. I looked over at Adams side of the bed and I reached out my hand to touch his pillow; it felt cold and austere without him and I had to be contented to know it would only be a few more nights before he’s home.
“Did you make yourself some dinner in your new kitchen?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
I heard him scoff on the other end of the phone and he said, “Yes, well if it can be called that. I made some pasta with garlic and olive oil sauce, simple and one of my favorites,” he told me.
I still loved hearing his voice, the way when he says ‘pasta’ it sounds like ‘pass tah’ with a very long a. It’s not only very sexy, it’s very endearing.
“Sounds good,” I told him. I realized food might have not been the best subject to bring up and I was right when he asked his next question.
“What did you have?”
I mentally groaned. "Oh, I just sort of snacked,” I told him and hoped he would let it go at that. He didn’t.
“Snacked? On what?”
“I just uh, made a sandwich.”
“Um hm. What kind of sandwich?” He wasn’t going to let it go, I could tell.
Fine, I decided. I’d tell him, serve him right! “A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, okay? Does it make you happy to hear that Adam,” I said and then I couldn’t help giggling.
I heard an exasperated sigh on the other end of the phone and then he chuckled. “Well, you did try to spare me.”
“Yes I did.”
“How’s Bobby? Did he have to eat PB&J as well?” he asked, and he was smiling, I could tell. I bet his dimples were showing I thought with a shiver.
“No, actually he had a class tonight and isn’t home yet. He can fend for himself, but actually there is lots of Goulash left over from last night. Our grandma’s recipe, and I made it!”
He laughed again and said, “I am aware that you can cook love. I’m sure it was delicious as well. Oh, and Sunni said to tell you hello. I saw her briefly this morning on my way to the meeting. She has lots to do right now, but we had a quick chat and she is glad to hear you are doing well.”
“That’s nice. It sounds like things are getting off to a good start there.”
“Yes, and I’ve saved the best for last. I’ll be home late Thursday night. I’m booked on the 10:22 pm flight into Wichita. So I’ll be home around midnight. How does that sound?”
I was stunned and over-whelmed with joy. And I couldn’t get a word out. I mean I tried, but when I opened my mouth, nothing.
“Love? Sarah are you alright?”
‘Yes,” I finally gasped. “YES, I am SO alright Adam. Oh, I am the happiest woman in the world. And how could you keep from telling me right away?”
I heard him chuckle and then he said, “Well, I mean you started straight off about my sneezing and I sort of forgot, you know?”
My eyes narrowed as I thought about that. “Forgot huh?”
“Yes, okay, no. I just wanted it to be the last thing I told you because I knew it would make you so happy. Think you’ll have better dreams tonight? I know I will.”
I would be happy with no dreams I thought, remembering the dream from the night before last. “Yeah, I hope I have the happiest of dreams. I know that I am the happiest of women.”
“And I am the happiest of men. I love you Sarah.”
“I love you too Adam. Goodnight,” I said, already missing him.
I hung up the phone and felt so much better.
Bobby was already in the kitchen, sipping some juice. He didn’t drink coffee or actually any kind of caffeine but he was very kind, he already had some coffee brewing for me.
I poured some into a mug and sniffed appreciatively, then raised one eyebrow in query to him. “Do you know how to make coffee Bobby?”
“Ah, ‘fraid I’ll poison you or something cousin?” As soon as he said it his face blanched and he became immediately apologetic. “Damn Sarah, I’m sorry – I didn’t mean that, I mean, like it sounds. Are you okay?”
‘Um yeah, it’s alright Bobby, really. I think it’s just going to take some time for me to get past all that,” I told him as I poured some hazelnut cream into my steaming cup. I sat down at the table and said excitedly, “Hey, Adam will be home late tomorrow night, around midnight!”
“Hey, that’s great. I’ll pick him up so he doesn’t have to catch a cab.”
“Wonderful, as long as I’m with you. I can’t wait to see him!” I quipped, laughter bubbling over my words.
“It’s a deal. I don’t have classes on Friday’s until noon, so it won’t keep me up or anything,” he told me.
“You know, we’ll be gone the following week so the place is still yours to use. It gets you away from your Mom anyway," I joked.
“Yes, it does that. And yeah, I’ll stay, if it’s okay. It has shown me that I need to be on my own,” he admitted sheepishly. “I’ve been lazy; staying at mom’s all this time.”
“I can’t see how you could possibly have any love life like that, that’s for sure!”
“Um, didn’t really. Still don’t, but maybe it’s time to change that. I’ve just been so focused on building the dojo up and creating a client base that I’ve ignored all the other areas of my life. Shoot Sarah, I don’t even know where to find a girl friend!” he laughed.
“Well, I feel sure they are out there; especially after all they longing looks I saw cast your way at the movies the other night.” I patted his hand and added, “I really don’t think it’s going to be a problem for you!”
I watched a shy flush spread across his fair features; gorgeous dark hair, skin that like mine tans easily. But he had the very bluest eyes imaginable, deep azure. He got those from his Dad because all our family was like me, hazel or brown, with a bit of green thrown in occasionally. And at 6’4”, not to mention all the working out he does, his body ain’t too bad either. So he has a lot going for him and he’d discover that the more he got out and gave it a shot.
“I guess I don’t have to ask if Adam is excited. That man adores you Sarah. Actually, he kind of amazes me. I wouldn’t have thought that such a big movie star would be so, I don’t know – ordinary, so nice really. Was his family like that too?”
‘Yeah, they were. I felt so comfortable and so at home with them. You’ll like them too. They are all coming here for Thanksgiving. Of course, with you, Derek, Adam and all ‘the Richland men’ as he calls them, I’m not sure that there is anyway we can have enough food. That is if you want to come. Oh, and I forgot Mark, who seemed to hold his own with the Richland men,” I added with a laugh.
“That’s Tamara’s partner. Mark Bonner,” I told him, waiting to see if the name meant anything to him.
“Why does that name sound familiar? Is he a movie star too?” he grinned.
“No, he’s a director. He directed River of Doubt.”
“Oh, THAT Mark Bonner. Won an Academy Award for it too, didn’t he?”
“Yep. And Tamara did the sets for that movie,” I stated, shaking my head in bemusement. “Quite a crowd, huh?”
“Damn Sarah, this is all amazing, you know that? Freakin’ amazing…”
I just grinned because I knew exactly how he felt. “Hungry? I’ll fix some breakfast, I’ve time before I go to the doctor.”
“Yeah, I’m always hungry, you know that! Do I have time for a shower?”
I nodded my head and he headed out of the kitchen. He had been such a big help to me, I’m not sure what I would have done without him. It was almost as good as having Derek here with me.
Bobby and Derek were the same age, even though he was technically my cousin. Loretta, Bobby’s mom is my Mom’s youngest sister. Bobby and Derek were inseparable growing up. Either they were here at my house or at Loretta’s; they were like two peas in a pod and were always together. They played little league together, football, basketball and finally karate. Then Derek went into the military after he graduated from high school and Bobby started developing his dream of his own dojo. That separation was very hard for them, but they each worked on their dreams which would eventually make them happy.
Derek’s was harder since he had went into the Army to try to please his dad, or maybe even get his attention, but it really didn’t work. Unfortunately Randy, my ex just managed to ignore everything about the kids, hardly ever remembering a birthday or Christmas. I hated that, for Derek and Lissa, that is, but I couldn’t change it, so I just tried to make things okay from me.
After we ate and got the kitchen squared away, Bobby went off to the dojo and I waited for mom, but luckily I didn’t have to wait for long. We went to the doctor’s office and I got right in there too.
As she looked at the newest x-ray, Dr. Crandal frowned a bit. “Well, it’s healed up another centimeter Sarah, that’s great. It looks much better. Any headaches, dizzy spells or anything else I should know about?”
I debated about whether I should tell her about the fainting spell the other day. I mean, it was caused by the shock of the e-mail, not my fractured skull. But what if the fractured skull made it more likely to have happened? And what if that still denotes a weakness; a valid reason why I shouldn’t drive yet. I decided I had to tell her and she listened all the way through, and then asked what all the notes were about, which of course led into the whole story.
“Goodness gracious Sarah,” she said. “What a mess.”
I nodded glumly, not anxious to hear whatever she had to add to her decision. She looked at the chart and her notes for a few minutes more, lightly tapping her pen against it as she read and thought. Finally she spoke up.
“All right, you’ve still not had any headaches?” I shook my head no. “No dizzy spells, other than what you stated?” Again I shook my head no. “Hm, okay, here’s what we are going to do. I’m going to allow you to drive again on a limited basis, with someone else in the car. And..” she looked at me directly in the eye, “And if you promise to pull over at the first sign of a problem, i.e. blurry vision, sudden onset of a headache, dizziness, vision flashing, anything, do you understand me Sarah?” One final nod of my head and she finished, “Okay, but Sarah, I just can’t stress how critical it is for you to watch all this carefully. If you do develop seizures,” she started, and held her hand up when I started to protest, “If you do, they happen so suddenly that you probably won’t have time to react Sarah. I’m only releasing you because you seem to be fine but I’m telling you that it will be several months before you are completely past any danger, okay?”
“Yes, I do understand that. And I will exercise true caution when I drive. I just hate feeling…I don’t know, maybe trapped is a good word. Not being able to get out when it suits me.”
“Well you are still only going to be able to do it when someone is with you. Is Adam here with you today?” She was still scribbling notes on my chart and didn’t look up until I answered her.
“No, he’s in Dallas. He’ll be home late tomorrow evening and then on Sunday I’ll be going with him to Dallas for a week or so.”
She frowned at me as she listened to me. “NO driving in Dallas, you aren’t familiar with it. And also, no night driving for awhile, sometimes the flashing lights of passing cars can cause problems. Alright, get out of here now. I’ll see you in two weeks, alright? Make sure you are here for that! Stop out at the desk and give this to Liz,” she told me, handing me a piece of paper with what were to me totally illegible notes on it.
I nodded and told her thanks and went out to give the note to Liz.
“Okay, she wants to see you two weeks from today, that’s November 1st. 10:00 am okay with you Sarah?”
“Yeah,” I told her and she set it up in the computer, and then filled out a card to give to me with the date and time on it. I put it into my wallet and waved at her as we left.
In the car I told Mom what she had told me. I suddenly found that now that she said I could drive, I was rather scared and didn’t really have any desire to. Go figure I thought!
Mom and I stopped and visited Cass for an hour or so and she cheered when I told her I could drive again. Each little step forward that we both made was a victory, for both of us and we both cried a bit.
When it was time for us to leave, Mom handed me her car keys and told me I was driving home. I looked at them, lying there in my hand and I started trembling. My eyes darted to Cass and she said, “Do it Sarah. You can do it!” I nodded briefly and headed out the door, but the whole walk to the car I was trying to figure out a way to get out of it.
I stood there at the car for several long moments trying to get up the courage to unlock the door. Mom was patient and gave me time think it through. I looked up at her, standing on the passenger side of the car and I knew she was going to make me do it.
“C’mon,” she said, “Open the door Sarah. You can do that can’t you?”
I nodded and did that. And suddenly what she said reminded me of Adam and his ‘one step at a time’ philosophy. I nodded again, to myself this time and opened the doors and we sat in the car.
Okay Sarah, put the key in.
My fingers only shook a little bit as I inserted the key in the lock and then turned it, bringing the engine to life.
Alright, take a few deep breaths and put the car into gear.
I moved the gearshift to the ‘R’ and after checking for oncoming traffic, I slowly let my foot off of the brake. We were moving and no catastrophe happened. I shifted into drive and we started home. And for the whole 10 minute trip I was tense, but it went fine. No problems of any kind. When we got home I sat for a moment in the driveway and tears started running freely down my face.
“It’s alright Sarah. You did it – that’s what is important here. You did it. Now, I’ve got to get home, your Dad and I are having some friends over for dinner and I need to get it started.”
I opened the door and got out of the car and found that my legs were a bit shaky, but it was okay, I still felt so proud for having done it. Mom hugged me tightly and reaffirmed that saying, “I’m so proud of you sweet pea! I’ll see you tomorrow.” And then she climbed into the car and was on her way, waving as she got to the end of the driveway.
I watched her make the turn at the corner and I waved again, even though she couldn’t see me and then I wiped away my tears and headed into the house.
Life was good.