*14 September 2011*
"Mama! Guess what I learned in school today?" Ella's excited voice is loud across the phone line.
"What's that, darling?" Abby's amused snicker makes me stick my tongue out at her.
"They showed us how to do CPR," Ella continues. "You know, for if someone stops breathing or something."
I should be proud of her for learning. I should be proud of her teacher for having the foresight to show them how to do it. But no words come to me. All I can do is remember my baby girl lying on that gurney in the ER, barely breathing and unresponsive. I remember them trying to get me out of the room, but there was no way in hell I was going to leave my baby. It was Kerry who finally came in and persuaded me to agree to leave, and even then I stood outside the door and watched them like a hawk as they worked on her.
And then the image changes just like that. I'm walking into a sunlit bedroom in Hawaii. Mark is lying there and, even as I step into the room, I know he's not sleeping. His struggle, his pain, is finally over. How on Earth do I explain this to the girls? How do I tell our friends and family? I remember briefly considering trying to resuscitate him, but it's useless. He's free of the pain and hassle.
"Liz?" Kerry's voice is suddenly on the line, worry obvious in her tone. "Come on, Liz, come back to me. It's okay, Ella's safe, so is Henry. We're all okay, Liz."
"Kerry?" I whisper, and wince as the sounds of the ER come roaring back and feel far too loud to my ears, even in the lounge.
"Hey there," she says softly, but I can hear the relief. "You okay?"
"I'm-- I was remembering--"
I suck in a ragged breath, feel the tears burning in my eyes. "I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize, Liz. It's okay. Abby grabbed your phone when you got lost and let us know what happened, and then I talked you back."
"It was awful."
"I know. I'm getting the kids in the car as soon as we get off the phone. Plan on a meal in the lounge with the three of us, okay? I think you need to regroup with your family a little, right?"
I nod, belatedly realizing that she can't see it. "Yes, of course, you're right."
"You just sit tight and we'll be there in a little bit. I love you, Liz."
"I love you, too, Kerry. Thank you."
"Anytime, love. Anytime."