Authors: Deanna Lynn Sletten
"Mom's really sick. You have to come," he said, his eyes wide with fear.
William looked up from his drawing board, frowning in confusion. Sara was fine at dinnertime, surely Sammy was exaggerating. "I'm sure your mother's fine," he said calmly. "She's probably just tired."
But Sammy wouldn't listen to his dad's excuses. "She's been sick all day, and she's really sick now," he insisted. "Come on!"
William had no choice but to follow his son into the living room, and when he got there, the site of Sara's pale, limp form unnerved him.
"Sara?" he asked gently, crouching down beside the sofa. She turned to him but said nothing. He placed a hand on her forehead and pressed lightly. She was burning up. Panic swelled inside him.
"I hurt," Sara said weakly, but the pain was so overwhelming, even talking was excruciating.
William had never seen his wife so sick before. For one long minute he wavered, debating what to do. Sara took care of them, not the other way around. When Sandy had her tonsils out at age six, it was Sara who'd sat beside her hospital bed all night. When Sammy fell off the swing set when he was three and lay unconscious, it was Sara who had calmly rushed him to the emergency room. She handled all the colds, flus, and illnesses. She was the one who doled out the medications, kept the children's shots current, and handled all doctor, dentist, and orthodontist appointments. He felt completely lost.
Sara closed her eyes and winced as the pain continued to envelope her. Her breathing was erratic now with short, gasping intakes of air. Seeing the pain etched on her face finally made William fly into action.
"Get your sister," he told Sammy as calmly as possible. "We're taking your mom to the hospital."
William drove to the hospital as fast as he dared, with both children silent in the backseat, and Sara reclined moaning softly in the front seat. He'd wrapped her in a blanket, even though her body had been radiating a fiery heat of its own.
Once there, the emergency room nurse took one look at Sara in William's arms and quickly showed them to a room where he could lay her down. Doctors came immediately to examine her, while William filled out insurance forms in the waiting room, and Sammy and Sandy waited nervously beside him. The three had just re-entered the emergency ward, when they saw Sara being wheeled out of her room on a gurney toward the elevators.
"We believe it's her appendix," the doctor in charge told William. "We must get her into surgery immediately. I've already informed the surgeon on duty."
William and the children stood, stunned for a moment, staring at the stout, gray-haired doctor standing in front of them. He tried to smile and reassure them. "Appendicitis is very common," he said calmly. "The doctors here treat several cases each month. Your wife is in capable hands."
At this, William relaxed a bit, letting his sensible side take over. Of course, appendectomies were as common as taking tonsils out. There was nothing to worry about. He nodded his understanding to the doctor, then calmly stepped over to Sara's gurney.
"Everything will be fine," he told her, placing his hand on hers. "They'll take good care of you."
But Sara was anything but calm. Her eyes were wide with terror. "No, Billy, don't let them take me," she pleaded, grabbing his arm so fiercely he winced. "I can't leave you and the kids. You need me. I don't want to go."
William knew there was nothing to panic about. She was safe in the hospital with competent doctors to care for her. "Everything will be all right, honey," he said, bending down to kiss her forehead. "Everything will be fine. Trust me."
They wheeled Sara down the hall and through double doors marked "Hospital Personnel Only". William stood calmly as she disappeared, even though her eyes pleaded with him the entire way. Unnerved by her fear, but careful to hide his feelings, he turned to the children standing wide-eyed and frightened behind him.
"She'll be fine," he reassured them as he placed an arm around each and led them back to the waiting room. "All we can do now is wait."
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