What Matters Most~ Chapter Forty

When Tony rounded the corner he saw a small group had formed outside the room where Marah had been operated on. It seemed half the town had come to offer their support. But at that moment in time he only had eyes for Michelle. “How is she? How is the baby? Can we see her?” The words rushed out of him as soon as he was within range.

Michelle didn’t give any answers she simply made a sweeping motion to the side indicating she wanted Tony to follow. “Can we talk in private for a moment?”

That didn’t sound good. He turned to see that Josh had the same grave look upon his face, the entire Lewis family did. Facing Michelle again he answered, “Yes of course.” Then he indicated to Josh that we wished for he and Reva to join him. Marah may be the love of his life but she was still the Lewis family princess. They deserved to hear the same news Tony did.

Suddenly a dark-haired man in a white lab coat joined them. “This the family?”

Tony saw Michelle’s body tighten. This guy obviously rubbed her the wrong way and he could see why. The slick hair and air of self-importance, the guy obviously had a god complex. Michelle made quick introductions. “Yes Dr. Salas this is the family. This is Marah’s husband Tony and her parents Josh and Reva Lewis. Guys this is Dr. Salas, Cedars’ resident neurosurgeon.”

Dr. Salas didn’t hold out his hand to shake he simply tipped his head in greeting. He moved towards the door, “I am ready for that consultation now Dr. Santos.”

Reva moved to follow. “If my daughter wasn’t lying in a hospital bed right now I’d kick that guy’s butt.”

***

As soon as everyone was settled Michelle stood on the other side of the desk from Tony and the Lewis’s and began quickly, “First off congratulations Tony. At two thirty this morning you and Marah became the proud parents of a six pound baby girl. She’s a little small but I have checked her over and everything is perfect. Lung function was our biggest concern considering her early delivery but she is completely healthy.” Michelle watched some of the tension in Tony’s body ease. She continued on. “As you know Marah came in here after losing a significant amount of blood. We set up a blood transfusion right away in order to prep her for emergency surgery. ” She paused as she remembered those moments during the surgery, when she hadn’t known if Marah was going to make it or not. “She lost a lot of blood during the C-section-”

Reva grasped blindly for Josh’s hand while muttering, “Oh God.”

Michelle pressed on, determined to get the words out. “Her blood pressure dropped and she went into v-fib.”

Tony had become more tense as Michelle spoke but at this he stood. “You mean she died? My wife is, dead?” He barely managed to get the words out before they became strangled in his throat. He didn’t know if he could breathe, how he stood because surely his heart had stopped beating.

Michelle rounded the desk and took his hand in hers. “She did. But I got her back Tony. She fought her way back and she is going to make it.” She squeezed his hand reassuringly then looked behind her to indicate the neurologist. “Dr. Salas has some things he wants to go over with you.”

Up until that point Dr. Salas had looked bored. Now that he had the floor he smiled like a shark coming in for the kill. “Mr. Santos your wife came in with a severe concussion. Coupled with the blood loss and trauma of surgery there may be some changes in your wife’s brain patterns that we need to address. I will know more when she regains consciousness. She has yet to do so.”

Maybe it was all that happened the night before, or perhaps he was just slow on the uptake, but Tony was having a problem grasping what the doctor was trying to tell them. “Spell it out for us Doc!”

Dr. Salas sighed with aggravation, as if Tony’s inability to comprehend medical jargon was indicative of his intelligence. “I don’t want you to think this is an absolute certainty. I need Mrs. Santos to regain consciousness in order for me to accurately diagnose her condition.” Deciding to give the family a visual aide he moved to the x-ray viewer on the wall and lit it up by flipping the switch. He then slid the film of Marah’s brain scan image and pointed to the first image. “See this black spot here? That legion in Mrs. Santos’ hippocampal region is likely due to the head trauma she endured or it could be due to the lack of blood flow during surgery when she coded. Either way it is likely when your wife does become cognizant she may have some problems piecing together events of last night. Once again, we will only know the severity of her injury once she wakes up.”

Tony nodded in understanding but a secret part of him hoped she wouldn’t remember that night. As selfish at it might make him seem he didn’t want her to live with the reminders of the hellish hours being tormented by Carlos and Eden. Seeing Eden being killed before her eyes. He would never wish that upon her soul. “Can we see her?”

Michelle hesitated before answering. “She’s being moved to the surgical ICU. The visits will be limited to family only and only for limited amounts of time.” She handed Tony a pink bracelet. “However here is your ticket if you will to the nursery floor to see your daughter.”

He reluctantly took the tiny pink band in his large hand. He couldn’t imagine seeing their daughter without Marah by his side. They were supposed to do this together, that was how this was supposed to go. Just another thing Carlos had taken from them. “I can’t go up there, not without Marah.”

Reva reached over and laid a comforting hand on his forearm, “You need to do this Tony, you need to do this for Marah. Because when she wakes up she is going to want to know all about your little girl.”

Seeing the wisdom in her words Tony could only nod in response.

***

Tony stared through the nursery glass at all the tiny newborns. Blue and pink bundles filled the room and one of them was his daughter. His daughter. The idea still sent shock waves through his system. He clutched the bracelet tight in his palm and with his other hand pulled the door open. A tall mousey-haired nurse approached with a smile. “May I help you?”

Tony could just imagine what he looked like. His tuxedo was dirty and covered in blood. He looked like he stepped out of the movie Carrie. He looked tired and haggard, complete with bloodshot eyes. He was lucky she didn’t call security on the spot. “I’m Tony Santos. I would like to meet my daughter.”

The nurse, whose name badge stated was Ann, smiled and checked the bracelet. Apparently it was his ticket because she gestured him towards a wash room in the back. “Right this way Mr. Santos. We need you to get in a sterile gown and scrub up. Once you are done I will go get your daughter for you.”

***

Tony sat hesitantly in the chair decked out in cushions with cutesy teddy bears on them. He rubbed his nervous palms on the pants of the borrowed scrubs. Within minutes nurse Ann was wheeling one of the plastic bassinets towards him the name card reading Baby Girl Santos. Baby Girl Santos. If Tony wasn’t already shocked beyond words that would do it. Looking inside he saw the tiniest bit of humanity he had ever seen in his entire life swaddled in a white blanket with pink and blue stripes. His daughter, his and Marah’s. One tiny fist had escaped and lay against her cheek, and from beneath her pink hat Tony could see dark blonde hair. He had gotten his wish, he had a little girl who looked liked her mother. He felt the tears begin forming. “Hey princess.”

Dark lashes opened and he looked into her hazy blue eyes. And just like that, in that one brief moment, Tony fell in love for the second time in his life. He looked at the nurse with barely contained joy, “Can I hold her?”

The nurse smiled indulgently. New fathers always fell the hardest. “Of course.” She picked up the baby and placed her in Tony’s arms. “There you go. I will just leave you two alone to get to know each other.”

Tony could do nothing but stare for several moments. He knew all babies were born with blue eyes but he wondered what hers would end up being. Brown like his? A mix of both his and Marah’s? He hated that Marah was downstairs while he got to experience the first moments of their child’s life. “I bet you were expecting someone else. Like your mom perhaps. She is right downstairs getting better but rest assured little one she loves you a whole heck of a lot, we both do. See your mom always was the smart one, always knew what mattered most. She was born with an innate ability to love and a close-knit family. I have always been playing catch up.” His daughter blinked unfocused eyes as she listened to his voice and Tony gave the rocker a nudge. “All I know of love I learned from her. But it gets all twisted up in my need to protect. Fair warning little one, you won’t be allowed to date until you are at least thirty but you will always be loved. And that is what matters most.”

Nurse Ann returned and smiled at the bonding father and daughter. “Did you and your wife pick out a name?”

Tony gazed at his daughter lovingly before he looked back at Ann and smiled. “Lanie Luz Santos.”

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