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Chapter 52

In the waiting room, Kevin, Howie, and AJ sat around in a state of depression. After Brian’s father had been called out earlier, they had been in a state of anxiety, wondering what had gone wrong. But Harold had returned not too long after, carrying the grim news from Dr. Adele that Brian had taken a turn for the worse. Harold had tearfully told them this and then left the room. He hadn’t been back since, and they didn’t know what had become of him, but thought it best to just leave him alone.

They hadn’t heard from Jackie since she had gone down to talk to Nick, but they figured surely Jackie would have been told by now as well. They could only imagine how Nick would be taking the news. He was feeling awful as it was. They didn’t know how much more he could take, in his fragile emotional state.

“This is so unfair,” AJ muttered out of the blue, his head in his hands. “How can God put us through so much of this? Brian’s family, mostly. I mean, how can he let one of their sons die, and now another? It’s just doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair.” His voice rose with a blend of anger, frustration, and sadness.

“Life’s not fair,” Kevin replied dully. They had heard the phrase a million times, and this was just another example of how true it really was.

***

“Are you sure you’re up to doing this, Mr. Carter?” asked April, the nurse who had been assigned to bring him up to ICU.

Nick sat slumped in his wheelchair, his IV pole parked next to him. He took a deep breath and nodded, not able to find his voice.

“All right,” April said, gently wheeling him into the small, dim room. “I’ll leave you here alone with your friend, and if you need anything, just hit the call button right there.” She motioned to the nurse call button next to Brian’s bed.

“Okay,” Nick mumbled, as she wheeled him up to the bed and parked the wheelchair there. Nick saw a chair pulled up to the other side of Brian’s bed and figured Jackie had been sitting there, but she was gone now. The room was empty, except for April, him, and of course, Brian. Then April walked out, leaving him alone with the motionless figure that was his best friend.

Nick wanted to talk to Brian, to let him know that he was there, but he couldn’t find his voice to say the words. He was almost afraid to, remembering what had happened one of the last times he had visited Brian. Just his presence had caused Brian to have a heart attack, according to the tabloid article, at least.

Nick felt sick to his stomach thinking about the article. Brian’s mother had done wonders in comforting him, but he couldn’t ignore what he, and people around the country who had read the tabloid as well, believed to be true.

At least Jackie didn’t. That was his main comfort. If Brian’s own mother could forgive him, comfort him, in her state of grief, then maybe others would be able to. Nick felt he didn’t deserve Jackie’s kind forgiveness, but he had to admit, it helped.

Suddenly, Nick heard the sound of the door opening behind him, and he looked back, startled, to see Kevin walk into the room.

“Hey, Kevin,” Nick mumbled, his voice only a whisper.

Kevin smiled sadly and pulled Jackie’s chair over to the other side of the bed, next to Nick’s wheelchair. “How are you, Nick?” he asked, lightly resting his hand on Nick’s good shoulder.

Nick shrugged, grimacing at a pain in his broken shoulder. Kevin watched in sympathy, as Nick stared at Brian’s lifeless body, watching as his chest rose and fell with the hiss of the respirator he was attached to.

Nick stared at Brian, at all the machines around him, monitoring him and helping to keep him alive, and he asked Kevin flatly, “Brian’s going to die, isn’t he?”

Kevin turned sharply, his green eyes boring into Nick’s blue ones. “Don’t say that,” he said, his voice soft, but firm.

Tears filled Nick’s eyes. “Kev, I don’t want to believe it either, but I can’t deny it either. I heard what Dr. Adele told Jackie,” Nick said softly. “It’s not good.”

“I know what Dr. Adele told Jackie because he told Uncle Harold too, and he told us,” Kevin said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s for sure. Brian’s proved doctors wrong before, you know that.”

Nick nodded slowly. “I know, Kev, but that doesn’t mean he can do it everytime. You can’t expect another miracle to happen, just cause it did that once. Maybe God saved Brian then because he had a purpose to fulfill in life. And maybe he’s already fulfilled that purpose, and now it’s his time to go to Heaven, to God.”

Kevin couldn’t stop the tears that filled his eyes. What Nick was saying made sense. Too much sense. Kevin knew the reality of what could happen, and very well would, to his cousin. But he could not face it. He didn’t want to admit how unlikely it would be that another miracle could happen, and Brian would live. But still, he couldn’t give up hope.

“I know, Nick. I’ve thought of that,” Kevin said finally. “But I’m looking at this as a test of faith. And I’m not letting go of mine.”

Chapter 53