Authors: Susan Renee
By Susan Renee
Original Copyright 2016 by Susan Renee
All Rights Reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of this book without the permission of the publisher or author constitutes unlawful piracy and theft. For use of any part of this book please contact the publisher at
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead is coincidental.
Except for the original material written by the author, all songs, song titles, and lyrics mentioned throughout the novel SEVEN, are the property of the respective songwriters and copyright holders.
Cover art by Samantha Roth of Grothic Designs
Editors: Nikki Rose and Lauren Brocchi
Formatting: Douglas M. Huston
Now you know why I enjoy our pillow talk.
Thanks for always “loving me okay”.
And to Anna and JP
You are my sunshine every day.
January 1, 2013
“You are my sunshine…”
“My only sunshine…”
Fight for mommy.
“You make me happy…”
Breathe baby girl.
“When skies are gray…”
You can do it Peyton.
“You’ll never know dear…”
Please. Please Peyton breathe on your own.
“How much I love you.”
Don’t you die on me baby girl.
“Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
Beep. Swoosh…Beep. Swoosh…Beep. Swoosh.
I sit here next to her hospital bed holding her little seventeen-month old lifeless fingers, so delicate, so small. I think about her first birthday and how adorable she was with cake all over her face, her tummy and in her hair. Peyton is the happiest little girl and so full of life.
so full of life.
Now she lays in a bed that’s too big for her, in a hospital gown that’s two sizes too big covered in blankets that don’t belong to her because her blankie was lost in the accident. EMTs are trained to do all they can to save their patient but they’re not trained to search for blankies or favorite stuffed kittens. I’m all she has. My husband, Peyton’s daddy, has been in surgery for the last four hours so I’m all she has. I can’t leave her. I have to believe she’ll wake up despite what the doctors say.
She’ll wake up.
She has to.
“Mrs. Turner?” a voice says to me. I look up and see a nurse in pink scrubs giving me a look of sympathy. I wipe my nose with the sleeve of my sweater.
“Yes. That’s me. My name is Savannah Turner. Do you have word on my husband? Is he going to be okay? Nobody has told me anything yet.”
“Savannah.” She smiles. “That’s a beautiful name. My name is Shelly. I’m one of the pediatric nurses keeping an eye on Peyton until her test results are back. I apologize for not keeping you updated but the doctors are still in surgery with your husband. No news could be good news right now. From what I know Shawn suffered several injuries and had a lot of internal bleeding. I’ll check in with the surgeons as soon as I leave here and see if I can get an update for you.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry…I…this is all…I…”
“Overwhelming and scary?” Shelly asks quietly, nodding her head as if she understands what I’m going through. She doesn’t know anything, but I’m such a hot mess right now I don’t even have the energy to fight or yell or scream.
I just need my family to come back to me.
“I know Savannah and I’m so very sorry. This is definitely not how anyone wants to ring in the new year. Do you have some family that you want to call; someone to sit with you so you’re not alone?”
“Umm…” I frown. “No. We’re not…we’re not from here.” I say, shaking my head. “We were just traveling from Knoxville back home to Lexington. Most of our family lives in Bardstown. It would take hours for them to get here and in this weather…” I can’t hold back the tears. “I couldn’t ask that of them.”
It was the fucking weather that brought us here.
Happy fucking New Year.
Shelly hands me a Kleenex and places her hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay, I understand. Just don’t lose hope. Your loved ones need all the positive thoughts they can get so for now you hold on to your baby girl. Every baby girl needs her mama. And you let me know if you need anything, okay? You just push that button right there on the side of the bed and I’ll be right here.”
“Thank you. I will. Actually, the doctors told me I didn’t have any serious injuries; just bruising and seven stitches in my knee. They gave me some ibuprofen several hours ago but my head is still pounding. What time is it anyway?”
Shelly looks at the clock hanging just above my head. Oops, I guess I should’ve noticed it there. “It’s just after ten-thirty. Do you remember when you came in?”
“Umm…no. I just remember seeing the clock in car before the accident. It said seven o’clock.” I smirk and shake my head at myself. “I just remember it so vividly because I hate the number seven. Everyone says it’s a lucky number but for me it’s been nothing but a fucking pain in my ass my entire life.”
“Ah. I understand. Everyone seems to think thirteen is unlucky so I always make sure to play it on my lottery cards in hopes that not many people use it, which means more winnings for me. I suppose though that you don’t see me covered in diamonds so maybe it really is unlucky.” She smiles. “Let me pull up your chart and we’ll see what we can do for your headache okay?”
“Thank you.” I nod, and then lean over to kiss Peyton on her tiny forehead.
I spend the next hour in this same chair holding on to the same tiny fingers and praying, to whatever God will listen, that my family comes back to me. At some point I must’ve fallen asleep because I’m awakened when two doctors walk into my room accompanied by Shelly.
I jump out of my chair.
“Yes.” Shelly is by my side, tenderly holding my shoulder.
This can’t be good.
“Mrs. Turner, my name is Doctor Shaw and this is my colleague Doctor Spencer. We’re the surgeons who have been working on your husband.”
“Yes. How is he? He’s okay, right? Shelly told me he had internal bleeding?” There are about one hundred questions I could ask right now.
“Mrs. Turner your husband…”
“Shawn.” I interrupt in a panic. I heard somewhere that when you give a name to a face, or in this case, to a patient, that it makes everything more personal. My body is getting warmer and I can feel my heart beating harder and faster. Panic is setting in. This is it. Fight or flight.
Please God, I need some good news today
A small burst of tears slides down my face as I hopelessly look at the surgeons in front of me before channeling my inner Sally Field. “Please use his name Doctor. His name is Shawn and I love him. He is my husband and I love him and please tell me he is okay because I love him and I can’t do this without him. I can’t make decisions about Peyton without him. I need him with me. He needs to see her.” I’m crying with fear of what this doctor is about to tell me.
“Right. Shawn. Mrs. Turner, when Shawn arrived here he was unresponsive and had suffered traumatic internal injuries. We did all we could to stop the bleeding and repair the damage, but…”
He said “but”.
“Mrs. Turner, I’m so sorry, but his injuries were too severe. His heart failed during surgery and we were unable to revive him. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
I sit back down in the very same chair I sat down in over four hours ago. Everything leaves my body. There’s no more energy, no more soul, no more life.
I don’t even have words.
My husband is dead.
I’m staring straight ahead, unsure of what the hell I’m even looking at, and my husband is dead.
The love of my life, the father of my child, my best friend…he’s dead.
As if my soul returns to my statue of a body I gasp for a huge breath and exhale in an uncontrolled sob.
I cry out in agony. “SHAAAAWN! OH GOD SHAWN! NO! PLEASE GOD DON’T DO THIS TO ME”
“Mrs. Turner…” I hear one of the doctors say.
“WHY? WHY ARE YOU LEAVING ME?” I scream.
“Fuck you!” My extreme outburst makes me gasp in fear. “Oh God, I’m sorry!” I try to cover my mouth realizing, the absurdity of my outburst but there is no way I can control myself right now. I’m tired, my head hurts and the events of this horrible day have beat me down. There’s no victory here for me.
“SHAWN! I’M SO, SO, SORRY. OH GOD! SHAWN! I LOVE YOU!” I’m rocking back and forth in my chair unable to move my body from the fetal position I just curled up in. All I can do is cry uncontrollably for the loss of my soul mate, my lover, my best friend, Peyton’s daddy.
“Peyton please wake up.” I whisper.
Rock forward and back.
“Peyton, mommy needs you…”
Rock forward and back.
“Peyton, Mommy needs…”
My body is weightless as the darkness consumes me.
The steady beep brings me to my senses. When I open my eyes I’m in a hospital room, wires taped to my chest.
Monitoring my heart?
I feel the plastic hose of oxygen attached to my nostrils.
“Savannah, honey.” The voice sounds familiar. I turn my head to the left slowly and see my mother at my bedside. Just behind her, light is shining in through a small window. “Savannah, you’re alright. You’re okay. The doctor said you passed out last night so they put you in a room to monitor you, just to make sure you weren’t suffering other injuries.”
“What…I…what day is it? How did you get here?” My voice is raspy. I’ve obviously been laying here a while.
“It’s Thursday sweetheart. January second. You were in a car accident. Baby do you remember that? The staff, they must’ve looked through your purse or phone or something because we got a call late last night to come here and…oh, Savannah.” She cries.
She’s crying for me?
Was I dreaming?
Did I just dream all of this?
I take the oxygen mask out of my nostrils so that it’s not in my way. “Shawn.” I whisper to my mother. “Shawn, did he…did…is…did he…”
“Sweetheart, you know Shawn loves you with his whole heart.” She says in her comforting southern accent. My mom has lived in Kentucky longer than her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, yet you would never know it from her thick accent. She has the comforting motherly look of Paula Dean. “We all love you so much Savannah but honey…Shawn is watching over you from Heaven, baby girl. He just didn’t make it. I’m so sorry.”
I watch as my dad walks into the room at the same time that my Mom is wiping the tears off her face with a Kleenex.
“Dad?” I ask.
“Yes Darlin’? I’m here. You’re alright. Doc says you’re gonna be just fine. You just fainted and were a little dehydrated.”
“Peyton. I need to see Peyton. How is she?”
The look that passes from Dad to Mom is the look that says they know something and don’t want to tell me. If I didn’t know it then, the fact that my mom is crying even harder now tells me that my suspicion is right.
“What’s going on? What happened? They didn’t take her did they?”
With tears welling in his eyes, Dad holds my hand. “Savannah do you remember what happened last night? Do you remember anything the doctors told you? About Shawn, and about…Peyton?”
I close my eyes briefly and take a long deep breath.
It wasn’t a dream.
I’m living a nightmare.
I’ve gone to Hell. This is it.
“She’s gone too, isn’t she Daddy? She really is brain dead? There was no change?” I ask resolutely. I feel the stream of tears falling across my cheeks and landing on my shoulder that is peeking through my hospital gown. I don’t even bother trying to wipe them away.
“Well Sweetheart,” he says softly. “Her little body is still laying in that bed but no…there was no change. The second doctor confirmed that there is no brain activity and hasn’t been since she came in here.” He’s rubbing my hand with his thumb to comfort me, but he’s crying all the same. “You have to be the one to set her free. I know you don’t want to but she needs her daddy now and he needs his baby girl. You have to be strong and tell her it’s ok to stay with him now, but before you do that you have something very important to think about.”
“What’s that?” I ask, my lip quivering.
“Doctor Turek stopped in to see you this morning after Peyton’s condition was confirmed. He mentioned that Peyton could help save the lives of several other people, including a little boy right here in this hospital, that you have the opportunity to turn our tragic loss into a celebration of life for several other families.”
They want to slice open my child and take what’s hers?
“I can’t Daddy!” I whimper. “I need her. She’s my baby too.” My eyes are closed. I feel her with me. I imagine holding her, wrapped in my arms, smelling her strawberry shampoo and listening to her make her silly kitten noises. I feel a smile briefly cross my face before I’m once again overcome with sadness. “I don’t think I can do it.”
“Oh, Savannah.” My mother cries next to my dad. I can’t look at them because all I see is the heartache in their eyes but resolution in their body language. The look that says they’re overcome with grief for their daughter and son-in-law and baby granddaughter but they know they have to get me through this. Through tears my dad says, “Think about those other families and for just a minute put yourself in their shoes. If there was any way we could save Peyton with an organ transplant, wouldn’t you pray for that from those families? Peyton’s body can’t use them anymore sweetheart, but there are many kids out there who could. We can’t make this decision for you, sweetheart, but think about what a hero you and Peyton could be to so many others out there.”