Chapter 21. Jessica : A Nightmare Ends.
Why was it so hard to breath? Pounds of invisible weight pressing hard against my chest. My eyes felt like they were glued shut. I nearly gave up if wasn't for the sad crying of a baby coming from somewhere far.
I struggled to take a deep breath, forcing my eyelids open.
Then I saw him.
Yuri. My Yuri.
Despite the blurriness. Despite the aches I felt all over my body. I could tell it was him hovering over me. The face I missed so much.
I tried to lift my left hand, needed to touch him to make sure that this was not just another nightmare, but I couldn't. I moved my other hand, realizing that I was gripping something. Turning my head and blinked, I saw a tiny arm coming from a bundle of blanket. A baby. I had a small wrist of a baby in my right hand.
“Yul....” I could hear my own voice, hoarse and weak. But the question in my mind was loud and clear. “Baby?”
When no immediate answer came, I asked again. “Our baby?”
“Yes.” He had tears in his eyes.
Somehow, a heavy breath of relief escaped my lungs. The movement, the smooth skin, I could feel it all. This was real. This was not a dream.
“Our baby.” Tears fell unbridled. I felt so relieved. I didn't lose my baby. My daughter was here.
I tried to move some more. I wanted to see my baby. I wanted to hold her. But people started coming into the room, pressing, prodding, asking questions.
“No!” I tried to yell when one of them tried to whisk Yuri and my baby away. I could feel someone pried my baby's hand from my grip.
“No!” I tried again. I couldn't risk falling into another nightmare. I couldn't risk being away from my baby one more time.
Loud beeping came from somewhere near my head, piercing my ear. And people, that I now recognized as doctors and nurses, started to speak loudly to each other.
As if triggered by the noise, I could feel my self-awareness shrunk. My eyes was becoming heavy again.
This was madness. I needed to wake up. I clawed the sheet underneath my palm. I tried to move my legs and my arms. There were cables and tubes around me, with all my might I tried to break free from all the restraints.
“Mam, you need to calm down.”
Yuri was nowhere to be seen but I heard my baby crying. I had to to get to them. The beeping got louder. The people around me getting aggressive. One of them even pinning my right hand onto the bed.
“No! Yuri!” I felt something strange coursing through my vein. Drowsiness engulfed me, my eyes couldn't be opened.
“No! Please! No!” From behind the wall of darkness, I sobbed.
“Please....” Begging was the only thing I could do upon being able to open my eyes again. My eyelids, they still felt heavy. I refused to give up though, prying them open with all my might.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to call for help. But then I recalled how people didn't really let me had my way the last time. I closed my eyes, trying to breath evenly.
After I was sure of some semblance of control on myself, I opened my eyes again. My gaze roamed. My mind whirled. Every time I tried to think hard, my head hurt. So I just stayed still, breathing, observing.
The ceiling was painted blue. The source of light coming from above my head was too bright. There was some kind of humming from a machine somewhere. I saw two IV bags hung from the a pole on the side of the bed, probably connected to my hand. I was definitely in a hospital.
I tried to move my left hand. I couldn't. I tried the other hand then I noticed another person in the room. Someone laid his head on the bed beside me. His hands were clasping my right hand.
With great effort, I tilted my head to see. The shining black hair. The strong arms and broad shoulders. It was him. My dear Yuri. I waited for a few moment before moving my fingers, hoping that he caught the signal.
He didn't. A familiar soft snore reverberated in the room, bringing a tinge of happiness to my heart. It was definitely my Yuri, sleeping beside me.
I decided to wait, afraid of changes, fearing another sudden separation. My mind was busy, trying to ask myself of why, when, and how.
Jumbled images flashed and flashed relentlessly. None was clear enough to tone down my curiosity. I saw Yuri, rubbing my big belly as he drives. I saw cute baby clothes and tiny crib. I saw the list of names we made on a sheet of pink paper and the ultrasound picture I attached on it.
My baby. I had to use every ounce of my resolve to stop from screaming, asking for my baby. I had seen her in Yuri's arms before. Tiny arm stuck out from the bundle of pink.
Was my baby in this room?
I focused my hearing, eager to hear the cry of an infant. There was only the soft humming of machine. I tried to crane my neck to see, but it hurt so much to do so.
My inability to move, was this mean something wrong had happened to me?
What about my baby? Was she okay?
As the distress bothered me the machine started to beep a little louder.
No! Calm down, Jessica! I ordered myself. With my eyes closed, I started to count again.
Exhaling a slowly, I opened my eyes.
“Jessica...” Yuri had waken up, eyes looking at me worriedly.
“Yul...” I croaked.
“You wake up.” He kissed my hand.
His eyes gazed into mine for a moment before his answer came along. “A little incident. How are you feeling, baby?”
“Hurts.” I sighed. Incident he said? What kind of incident it was? I tried to remember but my head hurt so bad. “Heavy.”
“I'll alert the doctor.”
“No!” I tugged at his hand. Panic started to built up in me. “No.”
“No.” Trying to shake my head for emphasize hurt me even more. I cringed at the sudden jolt of pain creeping from my neck to my back.
“You're in pain. Doctor-” He rose up from the chair.
“Okay... okay...” He gulped, watching me closely. “Calm down, baby.”
His hand moved to caress my forehead. The loving gesture warmed my heart. I relaxed on the pillows, counting my breath again. “Our baby?”
“Our daughter? She's sleeping. In other room.” Yuri didn't stop moving, caressing, kissing, holding my hand tight.
“She's wonderful.” He smiled. Despite the nagging pain, I smiled too.
“See....” I coughed. My throat felt so dry. It was so hard to string words into sentence. “See. Our baby.”
“You want to see our baby?”
I tried to nod.
“I'll bring her here.” To my horror, Yuri stood up again. I clutched at his hand. Crippling fear surged back inside of me.
“No. No go.”
“Let me alert someone, okay? Your mother? My mother? Our family are all outside.”
I gave it a quick thought. If I let Yuri disappeared through the door, who could guarantee that he would come back? What if the doctors and nurses came again?
“Don't worry. I won't go far.” He bent down to kiss my forehead. “Not going to stray myself away from you this time.”
After a long while of staring into his eyes, I let his hand go. When he disappeared from my field of view, I couldn't stop myself from being so frightened. I felt so alone.
Seconds ticked agonizingly slow. What was it that took him so long? Did he leave me for good? Was this another nightmare? I wanted to run. I wanted to flee this room. I tried to move my body again. Only my right hand obeyed my order.
“Sooyeon...” A familiar voice reached my ears before a small smile greeted my eyes. My mother, my source of eternal comfort. The one person I always associated with safety, was beside me. “Oh Sooyeonnie...”
She had tears behind that smile. So I stopped myself from crying too. Somehow looked way older than I had ever remembered, my mother came closer to hold my hand.
“Thank God.” She murmured her gratitude, pressing my palm against her cheek. Her head bowed low, her shoulders shaking. “Thank you, God.”
I couldn't say anything. Inexplicable sadness weighed my already aching heart. My mother seemed so vulnerable. Too weak to be the strong woman I had always known her for. For a moment I forgot about Yuri and my daughter. I moved my fingers in her hand, trying to tell her to stop crying.
“Our Sooyeonnie.” After what seemed like eternity, she lifted her head. “Our Sooyeonnie finally wakes up.” Her smile broaden as she sniffed back tears.
“Everything will be okay, now.” She my hair gently. Her touch made me feel like I was that little child again. As if a lullaby would came next and I could sleep in my mother's loving care forever.
My eyes began to feel extra heavy again. My mind went to Yuri and my daughter but cloud of drowsiness enveloped me.p
“Mom....” I tried to voice my concern before falling back into whatever it was nagging my consciousness. “My baby....”
“She's fine, Sooyeon. Your daughter is fine.”
Before I completely succumbed, I tried to smile again.
The next time I woke up, Yuri's face was the first thing I saw. He smiled, looking as handsome as ever.
“Hi, baby.” He lifted his arms. In them, wrapped in yellow blanket with flowery prints, was my baby. “Someone has been waiting to meet you.”
The feelings that surged in me, I couldn't put in in words. My daughter, however, I could write every detail of her in mind. Tiny face, fair skin, bright little eyes, cute nose, and rosy lips. Yuri lifted her higher for me to see. Little arms, with tiny fists to match the cuteness, shot out of the blanked. In my mind, it felt like she was beckoning me to hold her.
I lifted my right hand, reaching as far as I could. My fingers touched my daughter's foot. The tiny shoes she was wearing, I recalled ordering them online the day after YoonA told us we were having a girl. Many memories related to my pregnancy came crashing. They hurt both my head and my heart.
I tried to move further but I couldn't. Tears threatened to fall now. My first time meeting my baby had to happen with all the limitations.
“Oh Mommy don't cry.” Yuri put my baby on the bed, right in the crook of my right arm.
My hand instinctively moved to kept her in place. Resting my palm on her small frame, I couldn't contain my tears anymore.
“Aigoo. Jihye is happy to see you. Mommy should be happy to see Jihye too.”
Yuri pushed a button on the side of the bed and the head of the hospital bed slowly upraised. This way, I could see my baby better. My daughter cooed and wriggled her little arms. A view that I had been waiting to see for so long now came to life in front of me. My baby effortlessly put a smile on my face.
“That's the smile we like. Right? Little princess?” Yuri cooed to our daughter than wiped the tears from the corner of my eyes. “Your recovery might take some times, Jess. You have to be patient, okay?”
I nodded, eyes fixed on my daughter. “Ji... Jihye.”
“Yep. Kwon Jihye. I'm sorry I picked the name without you.”
“Is okay.” I smiled at him. It was one of the name from the list we made. One that came from my mother-in-law's suggestion. “Like it.”
“So small.” My hand touched the little foot again. As far as I remember, baby was supposed to be bigger and chubbier.
“She came a little early. But mind you, little Jihye here is stronger than she seems to be.”
“Early.” I sighed. “What's... happened?”
“It's okay. It's in the past now.”
I reached into the deepest part of my memory, but still couldn't remember any incident. My head started to hurt again.
“Tell me.” I asked Yuri.
He diverted his gaze to our daughter. “You're not supposed to think too hard, baby. Let's focus on your recovery instead.”
As if agreeing to her father. Little Jihye flailed her arms and cooed. I smiled down at her, wishing I could move my head far enough to kiss her rosy cheek.
“Baby...” Yuri called me softly after a long while spent focusing on Jihye. “May I get the doctors to check on you?”
I stared at him. It was frightening to have strangers around.
“You just woke up from a very long sleep, baby. Let's get you examined to see if anything is wrong. So you can heal faster.”
After a long thinking, I nodded. My thumb went to caress Jihye's thigh. I wanted to be able to hold my precious daughter soon. “You stay.”
“I'll ask the doctors to let me stay in the room, okay?”
“Jihye will have to go with your mother. You can see her again as soon as the examination finish. Promise.”
“Kay.” I yawned. Jihye too.
Yuri laughed. “My girls are both sleepy.” His thumb caressed my cheek. “Sleep, baby. Take some rest.”
“Don't want sleep.” My fingers moved to touch Yuri's. “Afraid.”
“Don't be.” He kissed my forehead. “I'm always here. Jihye, your family, everybody. We're here. We're not gonna let you go.”
I nodded, watching as he lifted Jihye's up. The little baby made a fuss but Yuri calmly soothed her. “Here, give mommy a kiss. Have a sweet dream, mommy.”
With Yuri's help, my lips finally touched Jihye's cheek. Her skin was so soft, smelled so fresh too. I sighed at the overwhelming feeling.
“Bye, Jihye.” In my heart, I made a promise to never let anything come between me and my baby again. “Love you.”
“How are you feeling?” Two doctors and two nurses were in the room. The one who asked question seemed to be the oldest. A lanky man with gray hair and thick glasses.
“Confuse.” I picked the easiest word to describe my feeling. I had no idea what had happened. What was going on, It was hard to fathom either.
“I heard you don't remember what's happened but you remember your husband and your mother. What about the rest of your family?”
“Remember them. Friends too.” My eyes drifted to Sooyoung who was standing beside Yuri. My best friend smiled and waved at me. I smiled back.
“Good. You were involved in a car accident and went through sixty two days of unconsciousness, coma if we're to use a simpler term.”
“Yes. Do you remember anything about the accident?”
“It's okay. Now we need to carry a few examinations to determine how far the accident has affected you. Will it be okay if we do a few tests to you?”
My eyes went to Yuri who nodded reassuringly at me.
The doctors and the nurses moved. First one of them shone a flashlight into my eyes then asked me to follow the light as he moved the flashlight slowly from side to side. Then the nurses did something to my feet and the doctor asked me to nod if I felt anything. I felt a few prick, touches too, nodding at the doctor at every little thing I could feel.
Then they asked me to try moving my toes, my fingers, my legs and my arms. Another asked me if I felt any pain anywhere in my body. I struggled to describe the soreness I felt all over. I pointed at my head, my neck and my chest to show them where the pain felt the most. When it seemed like every question had been asked, every test had been carried out, and all the necessary information had been noted, I dared to ask them.
“Can't move. Heavy. Why?”
The doctors shared a quick look at each other. Even the corner of my eyes caught Sooyoung who looked away and Yuri who was clearly looked displeased.
“The accident broke your leg, hurt your spinal cord, and also forced us to perform early cesarean on you. With all the traumas and the fact that you barely moved for the last two months, it's only fair that your body not totally mobile.”
“Want to heal. Quick.”
“We'll make sure you get the best treatment possible. Stay positive, we shall thread through this one step at a time.”
“Don't want to faint. Sleep too much.”
“It's common to fall in and out of consciousness at early stage of recovery. Your nerve system & your physical function are both still adjusting at the moment.”
I sighed, giving up. The examinations alone made me all tired and sleepy. Despite the urge to know more, I had to hold myself back. I knew Yuri would make sure everything will be alright. I could prod for more details later.
“A few more test should be carried out later. But judging from what we've got today, your condition is not as severe as we thought it would be, Mrs. Kwon. Take some rest and try not to think about it too much.”
I sighed again. What else I could do with all the uncertainty? The doctors left the room, but not before sharing a shushed short conversation with Yuri and Sooyoung. Sooyoung left too, after carefully hugging me and gave me comforting words.
My husband stayed, smiling at me as he sat on the edge of the bed. “Not so bad, huh?”
I could only blink my answer.
“I know you want to know more. You will, in time. Be patient, okay?” He patted my right hand.
I looked away.
“Want to meet Jihye?”
I nodded and yawned at the same time. Yuri laughed.
“You sleepyhead.” His index finger tapped the tip of my nose. “Go sleep. I'll bring our daughter to you when you wake up.”
He moved to lie by my side on the small bed. I looked at him alarmingly, afraid that he would fall or knock things down.
“What? I can fit.” He laughed again, carefully setting himself on my side. “See. This uncomfortable bed is actually made for lovers.”
Couldn't help the smile on my face from blooming, I snuggled to him as best as my nearly immobile body could reach. He turned to face me too, propping his head on one arm. Our eyes met and I realized I had missed this so much. Yuri and his masculine smell. Yuri and his never-ending affection. His loving gaze. Our closeness.
“Sweet dream.” His thumb caressed my cheek. “I love you.”
“Love you too
*** tbc ***
Author's note : After all the pain and hardship, a little sweet ending is a bit overdue, right?
Now let me tell you a thing or two about comments. They are sugar rush. Reading one is like adding a splash of gasoline to my fire. Imagine what all your comments have done to me. Without them, when I was on my all time low, this story would have been cut short a few chapters ago. I thank each and everyone of you for the attention. Thank you very-very much, my friends. ^_^