Chapter 42

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It was 6:25 when they walked into the hospital the next morning. Melanie had slept alright the night before but still felt tired. And nervous. So nervous she had thrown up before they left her apartment.

It was nearly twenty minutes later before she was taken back to be prepped for surgery. Brian was allowed to stay with her up until the time she went to the operating room. She'd asked her parents to wait until she was already in surgery to come to the hospital. She knew she would feel overwhelmed with all of them there.

A few minutes before 8:00 the nurse came in.

"Ready to go?" she asked, her voice soft and kind.

Melanie looked up at Brian. He took her hand and squeezed it.

"You'll be fine," he said. "I'll be right here when you wake up."

He brushed the hair from her forehead before bending over and kissing it. She gripped his hand tightly as the nurse began to push the bed. She only let go when she was too far away from him to hold on.

The surgery took a little over four hours. Melanie's parents had shown up about an hour into it. They joined Brian in the waiting room and some small talk was made but mostly they all sat in silence.

As soon as Brian saw Dr. Drake walk into the waiting room he stood up. Her parents did the same when they saw the doctor approaching Brian.

"Hello," she said, holding out a hand to Melanie's dad. "Are you Melanie's parents?"

"Yes. I'm Kevin," he said, shaking her hand.

"Denise," her mom said.

"How did it go?" Brian asked nervously

"It went really well. We were able to remove all of the tumor. If I had to guess I would say it's benign just based on the location and size. Malignant tumors tend to be more spread out and are often deeply imbedded in the tissue, making removal difficult."

Brian let out a breath. He hadn't realized how tense his body had been for the last few hours until then.

"How soon will the results come back?" her mom asked.

"It'll be a few days. The tumor has already been sent to the lab."

"How long will she need to stay in the hospital?" her dad asked.

"If she doesn't present with any complications I'd say she can go home the day after tomorrow."

"When can we see her?" Brian asked.

"She's in recovery right now. As soon as they have her settled in a room I'll have someone come and get you."

"Thank you," her dad said, holding out his hand to shake hers again.

"You're welcome."

As she turned to leave Melanie's parents hugged, then her mom hugged Brian.

"I need to make a phone call," Brian said when they broke apart. "I'll be right back."

He went down to the cafeteria, bought a bottle of iced tea, and sat down. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and called his mom.

"Hello?" she answered after three rings.

"Hey ma."

"Oh hi Brian. How's Melanie? Is the surgery over?"

"Yeah, just a little bit ago."

"Did the doctor come out and talk to you? How did it go?"

"She said it went really well. She was able to get all of the tumor out."

"Oh thank God for that."

"She also said she thinks it's not cancerous," he said after taking a gulp of tea, "but she can't tell for sure. We'll have to wait for the lab results."

"How long will that take?"

"She said a few days. I don't know if that means three or seven."

"Well just breathe a sigh of relief that they were able to get it all and try to stay positive."

"I already have. Once the doctor said she got it all I felt like I could breathe for the first time in hours."

"Did her parents make it?" she asked.

"Yeah, they got in yesterday. We were all in the waiting area together. I came down to the cafeteria to call you. I know how worried you've been about her."

"I know how worried you've been."

"I love her, ma. Right now, I can't imagine my life without her. I need her to be ok."

"She will be, Bri. Just stay positive. For your sake and for hers."

"I will. Thanks, ma. I better get back up there."

"Ok honey. Call me with an update when you have the results."

"Yeah, I will. Love you ma."

"Love you, too, Bri."

When he got back upstairs he found her mom alone in the waiting room.

"Kevin just went to the vending machine to get us something to drink," she said, seeing his bottle of tea.

"I'm sorry I didn't offer to get you something. It was a last minute decision to go to the cafeteria."

"That's alright." A moment passed before she spoke again. "Thank you again for all you've done for Mel. It means a lot to me, to know that she hasn't had to go through this alone."

"You're welcome. I love her. I'd do anything for her."

"She feels the same way about you. She gushes about you every time we talk." A flash of heat streaked across his face. "Seems like everything she's said about you is true."

"I hope that's a good thing," he said.

"Oh definitely."

Nearly an hour passed before a nurse came to get them.

"Are you Melanie Carter's family?" she asked as she approached them. They all stood at the same time.

"Yes," her dad said.

"Melanie is in room 314. You can go up now. She's going to be out of it for a while. She may wake up for brief periods but she's still groggy from the anesthesia and is on a heavy dose of morphine right now."

"Thank you," her mom said.

When they reached her room Brian stood back, allowing her parents to go in first. Her parents stood next to the bed, looking down on her. A tear rolled down her mother's cheek as she ran her hand over the left side of Melanie's head.

A large bandage covered the right side of her head, gauze wrapped around her head to hold it in place. As Brian stared at her from the foot of the bed he thought of how small and frail she looked. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to scoop her up and hold her.

He approached the other side of the bed and took her hand in his. After a couple of minutes her eyes began to flutter.

"Hi honey," her mom said.

"Brian?" she asked, her voice soft.

"I'm right here," he said, putting a hand to her cheek. She turned her head slowly to look at him and he smiled at her.

"How was it?"

"It went great sweetheart. She got all of the tumor out. You're going to be fine."

She turned her head back towards her mom.

"I'm glad you're here," she said.

"We're not going anywhere," her dad said, putting a hand on her leg. She looked back over at Brian.

"I love you," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

"I love you, too. Get some rest."

He kissed her forehead as her eyes closed.

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