The doctor had given Hazel sedatives to calm her down, empty her from whatever was haunting her. He took both father and son into his office to speak to them.
“What happened?” Colton asked before the door was even closed.
The doctor raised his hand to silence the further bombardment of questions.
“Let me explain that the onset of the stress response in her mind is associated with specific physiological actions in the sympathetic nervous system, both directly and indirectly through the release of epinephrine and to a lesser extent norepinephrine from the medulla of the adrenal glands. The release is triggered by acetylcholine released from pre-ganglionic sympathetic nerves..Now what…”
“No offence Dr.Boyd, but skip the medical jargon, what happened to her?” responded Samir, cutting him off.
The doctor sighed, “I have diagnosed Hazel as having an Acute Stress Reaction, it’s a little like Post Traumatic Stress disorder, but more severe.”
“But…how could it happen now? I mean, all these months,..nothing and now this?” Said Colton, confused.
“All I can say is that there must have been some kind of trigger.” Dr.Boyd said.
“Yes..” He saw the worried looks on the faces of Colton and Samir and said hurriedly, “This is a good thing! We did scans and we know her brain is functionally perfectly fine, but this gives us something to work with. We know that she can indeed respond and not in a loose coma state.” He said nodding reassuringly. After a couple more questions from Colton and Samir, they reluctantly left the hospital. They were told that they couldn’t visit with Hazel that night because they did not know what the trigger for the reaction she had earlier was.
Hazel squinted her eyes, the moonlight from the large window shed some light on the sparse white room. It sent shivers down her body at how cold it was.
She had awoken seven hours later feeling groggy and slightly dizzy..her body weak from non-use. She just sat in the bed trying to regain her composure to stand up and walk. Time was irrelevant to her. She had no idea why she was where she was and it worried her for a moment. It was the quietness of the room that helped her think. She remembered her birthday party, she remembered the phone call of Jenny’s death, how long could that of been? Yesterday? She was slightly confused as to why the news of her beloved friend had soften to a mere hurt and pain in her heart, a little cloudy vision of threatening tears to come if she dwelled on it longer.
She looked around the room once more, moonlight washed over the fresh red roses on the nightstand.
Just then the door opened and the Registered Nurse that had granted Samir his unlimited visit card, came in. Hazel jumped at the sound. “Your up.” Said the nurse, not looking at her. She was used to the blank stares, the silent responses that Hazel gave her. “I’m just going to give you a little—“
“Why am I here? Wheres my son?” Hazel asked suddenly, her voice a little dry and hoarse as she had not used it in a while. It was the nurses turn to jump. She looked at her a bit surprised and took a minute before she spoke. “Uh…wait a moment.” It was a big development and she rushed out of the room to fetch the doctor.
The doctor looked up from the tiresome paperwork he was buried under, “What? Who’s talking”
“Patient Valenti! The one that went under a psychological shock yesterday.” She said.
“Impossible.” Said Doctor Boyd. He left his mess of work and followed the Nurse up the stairs and to Hazels room.
When they entered the room, Hazel was getting up from the bed. “Please sit back down, I’m Doctor Boyd.”
“I want to stand, my body hurts from lying down.” Replied Hazel. The doctor nodded and followed her with his eyes as she struggled to stand with her weak state. When she failed to do so, she sat back down, angry, “What happened to me? Where is Colton?” Doctor Boyd pulled up a chair next to her and sat down, “Will you answer a few questions for me?”
“Why won’t you—“Began Hazel but was cut off by the doctor as he asked,
“What is your name?”
She looked at him with an arched brow, “Hazel Valenti.”
“How old are you Miss.Valenti?”
“39…and my favorite color is brown, favorite food is lobster, I have a son.. his name is Colton, hes 18. He’s going to college on a soccer scholarship. His girlfriend is Anita Feinburg…Anything else?” She said it all in one breath, annoyance at their lack of answers to her questions.
Doctor Boyd ignored her comeback and simple asked, “Do you remember Jenny Dulharm, her husband Dennis—“
Hazel cut him off to say, “Of course I remember Jenny. And yes…I know that she along with Dennis and Garrett died in a plane crash.” There was a lot of feelings behind the words as she said them hurriedly.
The doctor just shook his head, he was amazed. “This is unbelievable…a mere seven hours ago she was—“ He was talking to the nurse, when Hazel interrupted, “Can you please answer my questions now?”
He doctor nodded hurriedly telling the Nurse to notify her son and husband, loud enough for Hazel to hear, but she didn’t completely process the ‘husband’ part as she had more pressing issues to ask.
“Miss.Valenti you have been in the hospital for a little over four months. You were brought into the hospital several days after you learned that your friend Jenny passed away. You were unable to cope and inflicted damage to yourself. After a month in here you had completely stopped responding.” He said carefully and slowly, he didn’t want to push her back into her state.
The shock on Hazel’s face was an understatement. She had been in here for four months?! How come she didn’t remember that? She couldn’t imagine herself being and doing what he said. That would mean that she missed Coltons birthday..his graduation…Colton! Oh no! What had happened to her?! Why?!
She was overcome with the knowledge. Even though the tears were pouring, she asked the doctor to continue, she wanted to know everything that had happened to her, the reasons, the explanations.
When the doctor was near the end of answering Hazel’s questions, Colton came through the door.
“Colton!!” She said ecstatic to see her son.
When Colton had gotten the call, he and Samir both rushed out to the hospital. He was on a near verge of tears as he hugged her tight, he never entertained the possibility that she would never know who he was again..that she would never look at him with that motherly love…but it was always in his mind, in the corner, eating away at his optimism and hope. “Mom..” He said, “Its so good to see you…” He said crying a little on her shoulder, unable to speak as he silently prayed and thanked whatever mystical being there was in the sky to thank.
“Shh…Its going to be alright now darling..shhh..” She said soothingly smoothing his hair. She couldn’t believe how much older he looked, it really sank in that she had been in a partial coma for over four months. A million and one things went through her mind as she thought of Colton being on his own, alone, not knowing what to do, not knowing how to continue with her in the hospital.
Samir stepped into the room after Colton had and stood watching them, he was nervous. He was contemplating whether or not to go into the room further when Hazel’s eyes locked onto him.
Colton felt the change in his mother’s embrace. He pulled away to look at Samir and then her, “Mom..this is-“
“I know who this is Colton…” she whispered, tears filled Hazels brown eyes unknowing to her. There stood the man who she had loved silently for 18 years, who had the key to every part of her heart. She didn’t understand why he was there, where he came from…all she knew was that she wanted to feel him in her arms. It was she that made the first step forward, the rest where completed by Samir, the result was a bone crushing hug, hundreds of fresh droplets freed from eyes that hungered for the other for 18 years. Hazel ran her hands over Samir’s face as he cupped hers, running fingers over the familiar face, the face that fuzzied over time but never completely vanished. She had so many questions, but the tender kiss that he placed on her lips satisfied every fiber of her forlorn being.
The wind blew gently that beautiful January day. It was cool and full of promise of the future. Hazel stood at the edge of the yard, where a memorial garden filled of Jenny’s favorite flowers were planted. The new house loomed behind her as a warm shadow at her back. Ten years ago she had decided that Sunset Valley had too many memories that she didn’t want to trudge around in. Samir and herself bought a house on the outskirts of the valley, the country air did her good.
She breathe in deeply, running a hand through her short brown hair, in the sun a gold band glistened on her finger.
“Momma! Momma!!” A little voice from behind her called. Hazel turned just in time to receive her seven year old daughter.
“Momma!! Daddy says we gots to go or we will miss the wedding!”
Hazel kissed the little girls head as she smiled, “I’m coming in just a minute baby.”
“Are you alright momma?”
“Im fine…Oh! Jenny!” Hazel said suddenly,
“Don’t forget your flower basket.” Hazel said smiling.
She skipped happily off into the house, her hair bouncing, her dress swishing. Hazel spared a moment long look at the flowers before she too made her way into the house.
Colton stood at the altar, looking dapper in his tuxedo. He was nervous and excited. Hazel blew him a kiss as she smiled at her little boy, for that was what he would forever be in her motherly eyes. The ceremony had yet to begin and she was already tearing. Samir kissed her cheek as he whispered, “No crying now…it’s a happy day for smiling and laughter.” She returned his smile and nodded. Little Jenny sat quietly watching her older brother, she too had a smile as bright as the sun on her little face.
The music began playing and all rose for the bride.
Anita glowed in her bridal gown. She walked down the aisle poised with perfection, brimming with beauty and smiles as she ended her walk by standing at Colton’s side.
It was silent for a moment; everyone taking advantage of it to relish the beauty of it all.
Samir and Hazel looked at their son with happiness bubbling over in their hearts. Colton had succeeded every ambition they had as parents and their pride in him was very worthy.
Colton and Anita gazed at each other with love and dedication. They looked upon each other, knowing that after that day they would be man and wife, that their lives would be one as their souls already were.
The Minister then began, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered together here in the sign of God – and in the face of this company – to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is commended to be honorable among all men; and therefore – is not by any – to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly – but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined……………………………Do you Colton Valenti take Anita Feinburg to be your wife; to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse…”
And somewhere… in the depths of the blue sky, past the gently rolling clouds, Jenny smiled.