© M. E. Lysette.
Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
Lying in a hospital bed with thoughts too cloudy to process, Reesa stared blankly at the ceiling. Even the ceiling offered nothing observable. Her brain had regressed to that of a child during her illness, but she began to recognize her mind wasn’t functioning properly. Unable to process what happened, she would think extra hard and grow frustrated at not finding the right words. The only clear thoughts were of Laurette, her two-year-old daughter who was now three. Amnesia took away a year of memories, causing confusion. Visitors came regularly, though Laurette was too young to visit. Germ risks were too great as daycare was a petri dish of communicable illness. Family hung photos assuring Laurette would come when the immune system got strong enough.
Days had needle sticks and horse pills; night hours offered intermittent quiet between beeping monitors. Nurses always interrupted sleep, but she’d grown used to it. A new one with short dark brown curly hair entered the room. With a cheerful disposition, she let out an enthusiastic, “Hello! I’m here to help you, and guess what? We have the same last name.”
Reesa replied “Babineau?”
“From New Orleans! Mine’s got the ‘X’ at the end!”
Typing into the computer, Nurse Babineaux said, “It’s so nice to see my name!” and began saying, “Babineaux, Babineaux,” in different voice tones amusing Reesa.
Whatever Reesa needed at night, Nurse Babs came before the help button was pressed. Warm blankets and cool water — Nurse Babs was amazing. Only the blankets would become too hot and the water too cold, causing instant headaches. Reesa felt bad saying anything because Babs was so thoughtful.
Morning came, and Reesa thought she could hear a jazz band playing outside her room. It didn’t make sense; this was a hospital. They would practice a few notes, and then leave before playing a full song, returning every morning only to depart. It was similar to Bab’s pattern, who was always in very late at night, but never seemed to work an earlier shift.
Marc visited his wife, noticing her melancholy disposition. Being unable to voice her thoughts made her sad. Laurette gave her hope to remember. Asking again for the child to come, Marc held her hand. “We discussed this. I promise, as soon as you are well, bring her.” With wet eyes, Reesa nodded in agreement.
Having acute renal failure combined with poor cognitive function made her not understand the severity of her condition, she kept trying to figure things out, but couldn’t. Talks between specialists regarding BUN and crit levels and dialysis were discussed at the woman’s bedside. As she slept, they spoke, “This fluid needs to come off, or she’s not going to make it!” Reesa heard every word and realized her life was probably over and wanted more than anything to depart on her terms.
Doctors left abruptly and team scrambled. Somebody on the floor had flatlined! Reesa saw an opportunity and began pulling tubes out body parts. Alarms went undetected due to resuscitation efforts. She got up and walked to the window and began to push. Someone seemed to be saying, “Baby girl,” prompting her to push harder, trying to open the window so she could jump. Feeling hands on her shoulders swing her around, Nurse Babineaux looked frantic and asked, “What are you doing baby girl?” Partly embarrassed and partly sad from getting caught, she cried.
“I want to die! I’m sick, I can’t think, nobody will bring Laurette!” Collapsing with grief into the nurse’s arms she gently soothed Reesa walking her back to bed. After re-inserting tubes hooked and tucking her in, Babs said, “I’ll make a deal with you. If Laurette doesn’t come see you by Thursday, I’ll let you die.”
“Really?” Reesa replied with relief. The nurse shook her head yes before touching the patient’s face softly, then departed.
The next few days were filled with anticipation. Every morning, she heard the jazz band; at night, Babs came in to see her. Thursday morning brought little hope, and by 8:00PM she was ready to say goodbye.
Her door cracked opened slightly revealing Marc. With his finger over his lip as if to say “shhhh,” he came in with a small child wearing a face mask. Laurette had finally come. Crying tears of joy, she told Marc he’d given her the greatest gift. As the night grew darker, Nurse Babineaux came into the room. Looking sad, she told the patient, “I’m here to say good bye.”
“Where are you going?” asked Reesa.
“I’m going back to New Orleans.”
With a soft half smile, Babs took off her stethoscope and looped it across the back of her neck, holding each side with her hands, and exited the room for the last time.
Morning came with sunlight, and no jazz band played. The her morning nurse had come in to check on her when Reesa said, “Sorry to hear you are losing Nurse Babineaux.”
“Who?” asked the nurse.
“From New Orleans?”
“We don’t have a nurse from New Orleans.”
Later, the doctor came to tell her that numbers were improving, and they felt confident that she would make a full recovery.
After her release from the hospital, her husband booked a cruise leaving from New Orleans. Spending the morning in the Quarter, she heard a familiar sound; the jazz band from the hospital! A parade was going by; folks held black umbrellas marching along while the band played. Reesa asked an onlooker “What’s this for?”
“It’s a second line for a jazz funeral.”
Reesa grabbed Marc’s hand to join the second line. At first he pulled back, but as others joined in, he was more at ease. During the parade route, she looked to her left and saw Babs walk up in her hospital garments and begin waving. Reesa’s face lit up, and she smiled and blew a kiss before mouthing “Bye!”
This story is a part of the The Reverie Unhinged Series by M.E. Lysette: succinct and sweet fictitious stories about regular people who are afflicted with a case of being alive.
Text prepared by:
- Bruce R. Magee
Lysette, M. E. “Before Last Call.” Shaded Areas: An Oasis of Entertainment, 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. <http:// www.shaded areas.com/ #!Story-Time-Before-Last-Call/ ehu35/ 56835fcc 0cf20a60e 3ae2c20>. © M. E. Lysette. Used by permission. All rights reserved.