As Evelyn’s fears dissipated and the time she was able to spend at the hospital lessened Evelyn found herself relying upon Shon’s colleagues to watch over him. Her dad had to go home and get the younger kids ready for school-leaving Evelyn alone to manage things. It had been a difficult three months since Shon was brought to the hospital and not once had he regained consciousness. Evelyn found her hope draining as each day passed with no improvement. “Shon honey you would be so proud of your son. Robbie learned to tie his shoes today and no longer needs me to assist him. He’s so excited to be starting school and riding the bus with Don and Dana. Can you believe our little boy is five years old? He idolizes his older brother Don and follows him around.” Patting his hand Evelyn blinked back tears. “Oh baby come back to me. We need you.” She leaned over and kissed his lips as she got up to go. “Love you sweetheart.”
She stopped half way up listening she bent closer she barely made out and breathy whisper “Ev….ee.”
“Shon?” she grabbed his hand “honey if you can hear me squeeze my hand.” She waited for what felt like an eternity before she felt a slight pressure on her hand. She looked up as a doctor walked into the room.
“Mrs. Olivia how is our patient today?” he asked pleasantly.
“I …. I think he’s waking up,” she told him “he squeezed my hand.”
Looking at her in consternation “well let’s have a look.” He bent over Shon shining a light in his eyes humming to himself. Something caught his attention. Bending closer he brought his ear done towards Shon’s mouth holding his breath listening.
Looking up he smiled “I think he just said your name.” Making a few notes on Shon’s chart he muttered “I don’t believe it.” Glancing at Evelyn he said “Mrs Olivia I think your husband is on his way back. Keep talking to him.”
“I need to call the baby sitter that I’ll be later than I planned,” Evelyn said getting up to make the call. A few minutes later she returned. “What do you want me to do?”
“Talk to him. Encourage him to open his eyes, squeeze your hand. Stuff like that.” As Evelyn moved to her seat beside Shon’s the doctor put a hand on her shoulder. “Be patient it may take a while.”
“I will thank you,” She said smiling briefly at him.
“I have other patients I need to see but I’ll be back. If he wakes up before I return have a nurse page me.” Evelyn nodded eyes focused on Shon hope rising for the first time in months.
Several hours later Evelyn was still asking Shon to squeeze her hand without any response. If the doctor hadn’t confirmed that Shon had tried to say her name she would have thought it had been her imagination. She dropped her head down on the bed trying not to cry as she fought a losing battle with herself. She knew it was time to move Shon to a long-term care facility, a decision she had been putting off. What good was it doing him? She had refused thinking it meant she was giving up and maybe she was.
Jerky movements through her hair brought her back to her surroundings. Lifting her head she looked around the room wondering who had been there running their fingers through her hair. Sighing she looked down at Shon’s silent form and did a double take. His eyes were open staring at her “Shon?” she cried.
“Ev…ee” his voice hoarse and rough from disuse but oh so beautiful to her ears. She brought Shon’s hand up to caress her cheek as tears flowed unnoticed from her eyes.
His voice jolted Evelyn from her thoughts, releasing Shon’s hand she turned to the doctor blinking back tears. “Isn’t it wonderful? He’s awake.”
“It certainly is young lady,” the doctor told her warmly. “Now let me in here so I can check on my patient.”
“Yes doctor,” Evelyn said getting up, kissing Shon’s cheek. “I’ll be back tomorrow sweetheart.” She turned to leave when Shon grabbed her hand.
“Don’t …. go” he pleaded hoarsely tears in his eyes.
“I have to,” she said gently “the boys are expecting me.” She looked at the doctor who was laughing silently beside her.
“Sweetie it’ll do you both some good if you stayed.” Looking at Shon “your husband will rest easier if you were here. I’ll arrange things with the hospital administration” Smiling at them both “I’ll even call the little wife to see if she’d be willing to watch the little’uns for you.”
Springing up Evelyn threw her arms around the kindly jovial doctor. “Thank you.”
“It’s my pleasure,” the doctor said squeezing her back. “Now sit back and enjoy this time together. Tomorrow will come soon enough then the really hard work begins.” At their combined startled expressions he laughed “physical therapy young’uns. He’s going to need help getting is atrophied muscles working again. It’s going to be a long difficult and painful journey to recovery.” Patting her shoulder “I think he’s up to the challenge. He’s going to do just fine.”
Smiling up at the doctor Evelyn felt hope for the first time in months. It was going to be difficult but nothing compared to what it could have been. She had her husband back and for now that was enough.
Robbie came racing into the house, “Is he here yet?” Don and Dana looked at each other shaking their heads. After watching his older brother and sister decorate for the welcome home party for their dad he asked “can I help?”
“Please,” he begged grabbing the streamer end as it dangled in front of him tearing it in the process. His eyes bulged as he saw what he had done.
“Look what you did,” Dana screamed “you ruined it.”
“I’m …. I’m sorry,” Robbie stuttered running up the stairs in tears.
“Jeez Dana calm down. That was mean,” Don chided her.
Glaring at him she refused to back down. “Don he ruined it. I worked so hard to make it perfect and he ruined it.”
“He didn’t do it on purpose,” Don told her trying to calm his twin down. Sometimes when Dana got upset it reminded him of ‘her’ and he didn’t like thinking of ‘her’. He turned and started to walked away.
“Hey where you going? We’re not finished yet.” Dana shouted after him.
“I’m going to check on Robbie,” he told her climbing the stairs.
“He’s such a cry baby,” Dana yelled after him “and so are you.” She screamed at her brother.
“Boys! Who needs them? Always making messes. Ruining everything.”
Coming into the bedroom Don called “Robbie?” He was about to leave when a stifled sob caught his attention “Robbie come out from under there?”
“Why should I?” came the muffled reply.
“What?” he said sneezing, covered in dust bunnies.
Laughing despite his valiant effort not to Don ducked when Robbie swung at him “hey what did I do to deserve that?”
Robbie shrugged looking away “I only wanted to help,” he mumbled.
“I know,” Don said scooting closer putting an arm around him. “Don’t let it bother you. Girls are a pain.”
Wiping his eyes he laughed “mama’s not” he said quietly.
“No she’s not,” Don fell quiet. Turning to Robbie he asked “do you mind sharing your mom with us?”
Smiling Don knew that would be something Evelyn would say. He wished she was his real mom if she were maybe he wouldn’t have all these nightmares that kept him awake at night.
“Yes,” He replied knowing that Robbie wouldn’t continue until he was acknowledged.
“Was your mom a real bad lady?”
“Yes. She hurt a lot of people.”
“Including our daddies?”
Nodding he wiped tears away “yeah I wish she weren’t my mom. I don’t want a mom like that.” Don confided to Robbie.
“How do you know that?” Don asked.
“I heard her talking to grandpa.” Turning Don he said in a serious tone “he’s your grandpa too now and he’s the wisest person I know. So if you ever have a problem he’ll know what to do.”
Wiping his eyes “I’ll keep that in mind. Maybe he’ll know how to make Dana less bossy.”
“Grandpa can’t do miracles,” Robbie told him seriously.
Laughing “no I guess it would take a miracle for that to happen. Come on let’s go outside and play catch.”
While they were playing catch a police car pulled along side the curb. Evelyn got out followed by a dark-haired man standing unsteadily, leaning on a cane. Evelyn helped support him as they began to walk up the sidewalk. Robbie dropped the ball and ran up screaming “daddy, daddy you’re home,” throwing himself into the man’s arms.
Don watched wistfully wishing it were him greeting his dad. In a way he supposed it was but he didn’t know this man, this stranger. Wiping angrily at a tear that fell from his eye he kicked at a tuft of grass.
“Come on dad you’ve got to meet him,” Robbie said tugging on Shon’s arm.
“Robbie, honey not so rough,” Evelyn told him “daddy’s still real tired and weak from being in the hospital so long.”
“Oh,” he said losing some of his enthusiasm. Turning he ran to where Don was turned away staring into space “Donnie come and meet dad.” He grabbed Don’s hand dragging him towards Shon.
Don thought about pulling away not wanting to intrude upon their homecoming. Approaching Shon he noticed that how frail and pale he looked realizing that this was what his mother did. “Daddy this Donnie. Donnie Dad.” Robbie introduced them smiling from ear to ear to finally be able to share his dad with Donnie.
Don looked down unsure what to do or say. Was he supposed to apologize for what his mother did? “Hello son,” a deep voice spoke above him reminding him of the father he had and he yelled “I’m not your son, I’m not.”
Tears streaming from his eyes he ran, as fast and as far as he could go.
“Don? Donnie what’s wrong?” Robbie panted beside him trying to keep up.
“Go away,” he screamed at him “go home.”
Stopping Robbie cried “Donnie don’t go away. I love you.” Sitting on the ground he gave way to tears wondering what he did wrong.
Donnie continued to run but Robbie’s sobs rang in his ears. Meeting Shon hearing him call him son frightened him, like he was being disloyal to his dad. But was he? He wanted to believe that his dad would understand, wouldn’t he? He had heard his parents arguing about him and his sister and now he understood. Dad knew they weren’t his but he never once treated them any differently he just wanted ‘her’ to tell him the truth. His mother did this to them, she was to blame for all the unhappiness. But could he really replace his dad? Dana had already started referring to Shon as dad. Which was why she was so insistent that everything be perfect when Shon got home. He wasn’t ready to replace his dad yet.
Slowly he came to a stop breathing hard. He looked back and saw Robbie where he had left him, crying on the sidewalk. Turning in a circle he simply didn’t know what to do. He wanted to run so far away where no one would find him but he couldn’t leave Robbie all alone. Sighing he turned sitting on the sidewalk “Robbie I’m sorry,” he mumbled sitting beside him.
Robbie snuggled into him “I’m sorry too.”
“For what?” Don asked confused.
“For wanting to share my daddy with you. I didn’t know you didn’t want to.” Robbie sobbed on his shoulder. “I thought since you didn’t have one of your own you’d want to share mine.”
“It wasn’t that,” Don told him quietly. “I wasn’t ready to let my daddy go.”
“Why would you have to?” Robbie asked. “Can’t you have both? Wouldn’t your dad want you to have somebody else to look out for you. My daddy would understand that you loved your other daddy.”
“I never thought of it like that,” Don smiled feeling a burden lift from his heart. Grabbing Robbie’s hand “come on let’s go home. We have a welcome home party to go to.”