My head was pounding and I reached up to put pressure on where the pain was, but I stopped when I felt a bandage. I ran my hand down my face and felt something coming out of my mouth, a hard tube of some sort. I went to cough, but nothing happened. Slowly I opened my eyes only to pinch them shut quickly when the light sent daggers through my eyes. This was the worst migraine I have had hands down. I felt the tube come out of my mouth, scrapping my throat in the process. I leaned to my left and threw up. What the hell was wrong with me? “Lillianah, can you hear me?” I slowly nodded my head and opened one eye at a time. I wiped my hand over my mouth, then shielded my eyes from the light. I looked at the person standing over me. Who was she? “We are going to give you some pain killers.” Before I could even respond I felt light headed and was quickly back asleep.
"Mr. Talbot, Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, she's awake but we just gave her some pain killers so she will probably sleep for the next few hours. You can go in and see her now," the doctor told us and I immediately jumped up from my seat and followed Steve and Molly down the hall in to a room. I allowed them to walk around the curtain first, I couldn’t bring myself to take the four extra steps to look at her. I didn’t know what I was going to see. When I heard Molly gasp I knew it was bad. I ran my hand through my hair and sat down in a chair, trying to compose myself before I stepped to the other side of the curtain to look at her. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see Steve nod his head as him and Molly walked out, giving me time alone with her. I took a deep breath as I stood up and took three steps, now just inches from the curtain. I looked down at my feet as I took that final step and I slowly brought my eyes up to her bed. My eyes rolled over her body covered in a white blanket, the noises from the machines filled my ears and I looked at all the wires connected to her. Finally I brought my eyes up to her face, tears instantly appearing in my eyes. The whole right side of her face was bruised, like they told me it would be. What I wasn’t ready for though was that the right side of her head was shaved as well. A bandaged wrapped around her head, some blood seeking through the white gauze. I reached out and grabbed her hand and said a little prayer, thanking God that she was alive and that she was going to be okay. I noticed the blood on the side of her mouth once I brought my eyes back up to her and suddenly panicked. I forced myself to steady my breathing though, it was dried blood and they told me she would have a breathing tube. I took long deep breaths as I got up and headed to the sink in the room, grabbing some paper towels and wetting them. I went back over to her and wiped her mouth clean, then running the cold rag over her forehead. “Why baby? Why did you do this? I can’t lose you.” I suddenly became very angry and clenched my hands in to fists, dropping my head, watching my tears fall to the floor.
“Max, you need to eat,” I brought my head up off of her stomach and looked over my shoulder to see Flower and Danny holding bags of food. “Yeah, I’ll be right there, I’m gonna use the restroom,” I told them as I stood up and walked out of the room. I walked right past them and down the hall to the men’s bathroom. Once inside I broke down. All of the emotions I had been holding in were coming out, and I needed to be alone. I cursed, I yelled, I screamed, I cried. I looked at myself in the mirror through tear soaked eyes and became angry with myself. Why didn’t I see this? It was all making sense now. The weight loss, the paranoia, everything! I should have seen it and I should have intervened. She wouldn’t be in that bed if I knew what was going on. All I had to do was open my fucking eyes, but I didn’t. I was in the dark. I thought things were so good, yet she was self-destructing. Why did she turn back to the drugs? What did I do to make her go down that path? I walked over to the door and punched the tiled wall as hard as I could. Blood dripped down my fingers, but I couldn’t feel a thing. I was numb. I walked to the sink and ran water over my hand before walking out of the bathroom. “Excuse me, can you wrap this for me?” I asked a nurse passing by, having trouble talking, feeling like I couldn’t breath. “Sir, are you okay? We should probably get an x-ray of that.” “No, I’m fine. I just want it wrapped.” She gave me a sad smile and ushered me over to the nurses station where she quickly wrapped it up. I thanked her and headed back out to the waiting room to find Flower. “They’re outside Max,” Steve said to me, his eyes not leaving my hand. I didn’t want to talk about it, so I headed straight outside. I found them sitting on the same benches Flower and I were on earlier in the day. “How are you holding up?” Danny asked as he handed me a sandwich from Subway. “I feel weak and useless and stupid. I should have-“ “Max, stop,” Danny interrupted as he looked from my eyes down to my hand. “This is not your fault.”
Once silence overtook us, I looked from Sid to Flower, then to Danny, hoping someone would start the conversation to take my mind off of this situation. “My sister had another shutout last night,” Sid finally stated and I looked up at him with a smile. “Oh yeah? How many so far this season?” “That was her sixth,” he smiled proudly. “You’ll have to tell her congratulations for me.” Sid nodded his head and we were back in the thick silence. “Want to head back inside?” Flower asked and I got up without saying anything, leaving the other three behind. I sat in my chair and waited. It was the first time all morning people were starring at us, but then again who wouldn’t? They were probably wondering why three Penguins and their coach were in the emergency room waiting room. I could only imagine the rumors that could be swirling. At least they all had the decency to stay away, the last thing I needed was a complete stranger asking me what was wrong, when clearly I couldn’t even answer that question when a friend asked. I looked down both hallways and saw Alicia running toward me. "I got here as fast as I could." I stood up and pulled her in to a hug. "How is she?" She mumbled in to my shoulder. "She should be okay, she's sleeping right now. They had to take out a piece of her skull to take down the swelling in her brain, but she's alive that's all that matters." I heard Alicia sniffled and felt her nod her head against my chest. "Can I go see her?" "Yeah she's in the third room past those doors on the right." I let Alicia go and watched her walk away. I sat back down between Sid and Flower and looked over at Steve and Molly who were talking to Dan. "You know you guys don't have to be here, you can leave." “Are you kidding? First off, you need our support right now, second off, we’re here to make sure you don’t break your other hand,” Sid stated as he patted my back with his hand. I nodded my head and felt more people surround us. I looked up and saw Vero, Avery and Tyler. "Hey how is she?" I felt tears sting ay my eyes again as Vero squatted down in front of me to hug me. I couldn't bring myself to talk about it again. I was thankful when Flower filled them in on what was going on. "Do you need anything?" Vero whispered in my ear. "I just... I just want to talk to her. I want to apologize. I want to make this all go away." I felt her hands rub up and down my back as I cried in to her shoulder. I knew it would still be a few hours before I could actually talk to her, but I was growing rather impatient. "Max," I pulled away from Vero and looked up at Danny. "I have to go but I already talked to Mario and Ray, we are going to healthy scratch you for tomorrow nights game. This is more important." I nodded my head and shook his hand, silently thanking him for everything he had done today.
I thought about what life was going to be like now. Would she have to go to rehab? Will she eventually relapse again? Why did this happen? Why? I looked around at everybody that was there, they weren't here for me they were here for her, and that made me smile. In just the short time she's known my friends they have become her friend as well. I saw Alicia walk back out and I looked at her anxiously. "She's starting to wake up," she announced and my eyes immediately went to Steve and Molly. "You guys go first," I nodded to them. Steve gave me a questioning look but I pointed down the hall and they went. I still needed to gather my words. Twenty minutes later Steve and Molly reappeared, "she's asking for you Max." I slowly stood up and felt Flower pat my back. The walk down the hallway felt like a very long one when in reality it wasn't. I took a deep breath as I walked through the doors. I pushed back the curtain and a weak smile appeared on her face as she saw me. "Max I am so sorry." I shook my head and took her hand in mine as I sat down next to her on the bed. "Baby don't, I'm sorry I shouldn't have pushed things on you when you're not ready." "This isn't your fault Max, it’s mine, I was stupid." I shook my head but I didn't want to argue with her, not now. "I don't have any hair do I?" She asked and I looked over the side of her head that was now bald. "You do just not as much as you use to." She nodded her head as her eyes watered up. As the first tears fell she dropped her chin to her chest. "I'm so sorry Max, I am so sorry." "Shh, Lil please, stop apologizing." She continued to cry and I laid down next to her, running my fingers through the hair she had left. She turned on to her side so she was facing me, I leaned forward and gently kissed her on the side of her mouth. I brought my hand down from her hair and wiped away her tears. "I relapsed three weeks ago at . . . at work, I . . . I just, I don't know." I was shocked, three weeks ago? I figured it might have been a week or so, but not three weeks. "We don't have to talk about it right now okay, we will get you help, we will fight this. You have me for support, I'm not going anywhere." She dug her face in to my shoulder and cried herself to sleep. "I love you mon cherie," I whispered to her as I climbed out of the bed. I looked down at her sleeping body and tried to collect myself. It was tearing me apart thinking that I almost lost the most important thing in my life. I always thought hockey was my first love, but I realized there were more important things in life than a game. I knew right then I would give up anything, anything to be with this woman. Now we had a long road ahead of us to get back on the right track, and the first thing I had to do was tell her boss that she no longer works for him.
I left a note on the side table for her just letting her know I was going home and that I would be back first thing in the morning. The nurses told me they needed to keep her on a 72 hour suicide watch which is protocol for drug overdose patients. I insisted she wasn't suicidal, but it was still their policy. I stumbled out in to the waiting room and fell in to the first arms that were offered to me. "Let's take you home," Flower whispered in my ear and I nodded my head as I pulled away from him.