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Dr. Ashwald’s pronouncement that Adriel would likely be moved to hospice could scarcely have been more damning. “Hospice?” Gabrielle asked. “So this is really the end?”

Bill reached out, took her hand and gently pulled her to a nearby stool. “Sit, sweetie, sit. We knew this was coming.”

“I am sorry to be the one to bear such bad news, Mrs. Gibeon,” the doctor said. “I can have someone take you to him for a few minutes but I’m afraid that with him in IC it is family only right now. Sorry, sir.”

“I’d, I’d like to see him please. Bill, I should see him alone anyway. If he’s conscious at all then he really doesn’t need to see us together. God, now I wish I’d never told him.”

“Alright then,” Ashwald continued. “Ma’am, you may wait here and I’ll have a nurse bring you to him. Sir, you may wait in the lobby? Mrs. Gibeon, I wish you and your husband the best of luck.”

As doctor Ashwald turned his back in preparation of taking his leave Bill said “Uhm, doctor? Would you please let the nurse know that Mrs. Gibeon can’t see. That might make things easier for everyone?”

Doctor Ashwald stopped and turned back toward Bill and Gabrielle. “You cannot see? I did not know this either. Yes, I will let the nurse know. Thank you.”

Gabrielle reached her hand up and Bill took it in his. “I hope that wasn’t out of line,” he said softly. “I just thought it might help if they knew what’s going on.”

“No, not out of line. I need all the help I can get right now.”

The wait for the nurse was short and soon they heard, “Mrs. Gibeon? My name is Rae Ann. I can take you to see your husband. Dr. Ashwald tells me that you can’t see?”

“Yeah. Stargardt’s. Something I’ve learned to live with but it seems to be a much bigger deal over the last day than it has been since it first appeared. Rae Ann? That’s a nice name. Can you take me to Adriel?”

“Of course. This way please. I’m sorry, sir, family only. You can wait in the lobby.”

“Got it. Gabrielle, keep your head up. You have a lot of people behind you,” he said as he squeezed her hand.

Gabrielle stood and Rae Ann asked, “Is it easier if you take my elbow or anything? How can I help?”

“I usually do pretty well. Just let me know if there’s cords or other things on the ground to trip me up.”

“Will do. Come with me and I’ll take you to your husband. Do you prefer Gabrielle or Mrs. Gibeon?”

“You can call me Gabrielle.”

“Okay, Gabrielle this way and through these doors.”

Gabrielle followed the sound of Rae Ann’s footsteps and at one point the nurse said, “Hang on. Gurney coming through,” and gently pushed Gabrielle out of the way as hurried footsteps accompanied by intense voices went by.

Once the gurney was by they continued a short way when they stopped and she heard Rae Ann pull aside a curtain. As they walked in together a sound that reminded Gabrielle of Darth Vader’s breathing greeted her and she asked, “Is that noise so he can breathe? Is he awake?”

“It is for his breathing but he’s not awake. I don’t think he would be anyway but he’s been sedated. You should talk to him as though he can hear you, it’s supposed to help.” She brought Gabrielle to the head of the bed and rolled a small chair next to it. “He’s right here in front of you. I can’t give you much time but I’ll leave you alone for a few minutes.”

Gabrielle sat, carefully found her husband’s hand, and mindful of the IV tubes in his arm collapsed in the chair and wept silently.

 

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