Denise awakened to a knock on her door, followed by Papa’s mellow voice calling, “Denise! Arise, shine for thy light is come!
What a strange way to wake up, Denise thought. Where had she heard that before? In Sunday School or Church probably, she concluded, with a smile. At least her grandparents were consistant!
“Thanks, Papa. I’ll be up in a minute,” Denise replied sleepily.
“Better hurry, breakfast is almost ready,” he said at the closed door.
Denise layed still for a moment enjoying the almost too cool early morning breeze. Not far away, a rooster was crowing almost continuously, and birds were singing merrily nearby, probably in the old oak tree beside the window. Denise decided. And off in the distance she heard the sounds of a cow mooing. The sounds of country life! Peaceful, restful sounds, she thought, as she stretched her limbs to awaken her still restful body.
Hurriedly, she climbed out of bed, proceeding with her overnight bag to get ready for the day. Only a shower could really get her going first thing in the morning. And this would probably be another busy day at the hospital.
The smell of sausage, waffles, and maple syrup drifted down the hall to stimulate her senses. As quickly as possible, she made her way to the source of the delightful scents.
Oops! She had almost taken her first bite as she heard Papa start to pray. Quickly bowing her head and slowly lowering her fork, she reminded herself of the long-forgotten custom of prayer before meals. But, after all, this was the only house that she knew that still practiced the tradition. Still, it lended a unity, a peacefulness to the atmosphere, Denise decided. Whether it helped anything else or not, it was kind of pleasant.
But with hasty, loving good-byes, she soon was driving off to start her day at the hospital, wondering as she went, about the Jane Doe patient.
Arriving at the old style, red-brick hospital, Denise hastily put her things away, signed in and headed for ICU. “Hi! Can you give me the latest information on the Jane Doe patient?” Denise asked the nurse in charge. “Have they found out who she is yet? Is she still unconscious?” Breathlessly, she managed to get all these questions out, the deep interest, and concern shining in her eyes.
“You’re a volunteer here, aren’t you?” the nurse asked, hesitant to give out confidential information. It was a different nurse than the one who had helped her before.
“Yeah,” Denise said, understanding her reluctance. “You see, since nobody knows who she is, she doesn’t have anybody but us to be concerned about her. So I just feel like somebody should be interested, you know?” Her blue eyes were begging the nurse to understand her concern.
“Well, we still don’t know who she is, but the police are checking all the missing persons reports to match her description. Surely, they’ll have a clue soon. But her condition appears stable. She’s still comatose, but her EEG, the brain wave test, shows her brain is still very active.”
“So, what do you think that means?” asked Denise, wanting to know all she could about the patient’s situation.
“Well, the doctor thinks perhaps the accident was so terrifying that she is subconsciously blocking out the pain, the knowledge of what happened to her. Who knows? The injuries to her head appear superficial. Minor, really. Her left leg had a compound fracture but there was no problem with the reduction, I mean, setting of the fracture. The doctor can’t find a medical reason for her coma. Her vital signs were stablized soon after she was brought in.”
“Do you think maybe I could see her? I wouldn’t disturb anyone, really. It would just help if I could see the woman that I’ve been so concerned about.” Denise was getting her hopes up, along with the nerve to ask the question, aware of the ICU visiting rules, immediate family only. But, since the patient’s family wasn’t here, perhaps…,and the nurse seemed really nice, but conscientious.
“Well. I can’t see that it would hurt anything, for just a minute, you understand.” The nurse turned to the inner door, and motioned Denise to follow her.She led Denise to the third cubicle on the left.
So this is Jane Doe, Denise thought, observing the young- looking woman. She had several small dressings on her face. The heart monitor above her was registering frequent, but regular beeps. An IV was hooked to her left hand. Her left leg was in a cast suspended in air by a traction set-up. She looked as though she was sleeping soundly.
Her short blonde hair was brushed away from her face, which looked awfully pale, Denise thought, nearly as white as the sheets.
Wondering who this could be, what her real name was, what her life had been like. if she had a family, where she lived and where she had been going, Denise followed quietly after the nurse back to the nurses* station.
“She is so pretty, even with the bandages. How old would you guess her to be?” Denise questioned curiously.
“I don’t know, perhaps 25, or maybe older. It’s hard to say. But I’ll bet when the dressings are off, and the swelling has gone down, you know, after the wounds have healed, she’ll be one beautiful lady.”
“Thanks for letting me go in, I really do appreciate it. I feel much better about her now, and I’m sure she’ll ‘come around’ anytime now.”
“The doctor said that if she continues stable, he’ll probably put her in a private room soon, maybe tomorrow. You may want to visit her again, huh?” The nurse looked at Denise with knowing eyes.
“Yes, I sure would. I want to see her get through this. I’d like to get to know her, although I’m not really sure just why,” Denise said.
Thanking her again, she turned to go to her duties, noticing that according to the clock over the nurses’ station, she’d better hurry!
Sitting around the supper table, back at home that night, she joined in pleasant conversation with Dad, Mom and Todd. Tom had an appointment with the doctor again that day, and was bragging to his family about the good report.
“He said I was just about as “fit as a fiddle”, just to keep up the good work, take my medication regularly, walk daily and avoid stress. He just doesn’t realize how badly I want to get back to work. This is so boring just sitting at home all the time, and I know Danny needs the help.”
“Well, after our vacation you can go back to work, and good riddance!” said Doris jokingly.
It hadn’t been easy for Mom, Denise realized, with Dad underfoot these last few weeks, and it probably would be a relief when her life could return to normal.
“Oh, yeah. About the vacation. I had a really cool time out at Nana and Papa’s last night. I’ve about decided to just stay with them while you two “tear up” Europe. Would you be terribly disappointed if I don’t go?” Denise blurted out.
“Well, if you’re sure that’s what you want to do,” Dad said, glancing at Doris briefly. “Of course, if you don’t want to go, Grandma and Grandpa Whitaker would love to have you stay with them.”
“I know,” Denise said, hesitantly. She did love Dad’s folks an awful lot. In fact, they came over quite a bit, and the family often visited over there. “But, they live in town, and I’m really looking forward to spending time out on the farm. Besides, I hardly ever see Nana and Papa. Well, I see them at church sometimes, but hardly ever visit with them.”
“How about Denise staying with Nana and Papa, and I could stay with Grandma and Grandpa Whitaker? That way I’d be close for the games and stuff! I really don’t want to miss those All Star games!” Todd said excitedly.
“I know. Son, and I’m sure gonna hate missing your games, too. If we could plan it any other way, we would. I want you to know that,” Tom explained.
“Well, it sounds like we’re gonna get a second honeymoon, huh, Tom?” Doris said laughingly.
“Well, I don’t know about that!” Tom teased.
So it’s settled, Denise thought. This way I won’t miss Jon when he comes, I can continue work at the hospital, keep up with Jane Doe, and enjoy farm life with Nana and Papa.
Tired from the long day, Denise decided to turn in early. She gave Mom and Dad a hug and started for her room. The phone began to ring. Todd ran to answer the phone, and disappointed, called to Denise.
Sure it was Jon, she hurried over, but it wasn’t him, she four out, as Amanda’s little-girl voice came over the line.
“Neese, what you doing?”
Denise*s heart warmed at the sweet little voice. She did love this little girl, and hadn*t had much time with her lately. She talked with her briefly, amazed that she had called, until Vickie took the phone, explaining she was just teaching Amanda to use the phone in case of emergencies. They talked briefly, then Denise again started for bed. Man, did her legs ache!
Soon, she was sleeping soundly, dreaming of Jon beside her in the cool afternoon sunlight, sitting on the grass, shaded by the big trees in the pasture at Nana and Papa’s farm.
It Continues Still…