"I'll be right back with Jordan's discharge papers, excuse me," the doctor said and left the room.
AJ and Kim both turned to their son with smiles on their faces. After spending five days in the hospital, including four days on the Pediatric floor, Jordan was medically cleared to go home just minutes ago by the doctor that had been overseeing his care since he had been transferred from the PICU on Thursday. At this point, he was getting stir-crazy in the hospital bed and was extremely anxious to go home. AJ and Kim couldn't wait for things to return to normal, but they also realized that what they had been going through was a life-changing experience.
"Congratulations, we're so happy for you all," said the mother of Jordan's roommate. She and her husband had arrived at the hospital on Friday morning with their five year-old son.
"Thank you, Lyssa," Kim returned. "I'm sure that Bryce is going to make a full recovery and will be back to his old self before you know it."
She nodded. "Yes, I'm sure he will. The doctors say that as long as he continues to improve, he will be able to go home tomorrow at the earliest." Bryce had come in with severe appendicitis and his appendix almost ruptured, but the surgeons operated in time and a PICU stay wasn't needed after all.
"That's great," AJ said.
"Yes, I guess both of our kids are lucky."
AJ smiled. "Thank God for small miracles."
Lyssa's husband Daniel walked in after getting some coffee from the family room down the hall and took a seat next to his wife. "Here." He handed her the steaming cup. "Anything new?"
"Jordan, here, gets to go home," she announced with a smile.
"Good for you, buddy! Are you excited?"
"Yeah!" Jordan replied.
"That's good to hear, I can't wait until it's our turn," Daniel said with a light sigh.
"I'm back. I'll just need both of your signatures on this form and that'll be it," Jordan's doctor said. "Do either of you have any questions regarding Jordan's after-care instructions?"
AJ looked at Kim, who didn't say anything and he shook his head. "No. Thank you so much for everything Dr. Willhelm," he said as he signed his name and passed the clipboard and pen to Kim.
"Oh, it's no problem, he has been an excellent patient." He walked over to Jordan who was sitting on his bed and crouched down to his level. "Now, remember Jordan, you're going to have to take it easy for a few days, okay? Your ribs are still hurt, so, be sure that you watch as many cartoons and movies as you can until they feel better, alright?"
"Okay, Dr. Joe," Jordan said.
"Do you promise?"
He nodded. "Yes."
"Alright then." Dr. Willhelm stood and turned to AJ and Kim. "You all are free to go. I'll see you next week for his follow-up appointment. Take care, now." He shook both of their hands and took the clipboard. "I'll be back to check on Bryce in a bit." He left the room again and AJ started to gather their things to take to the car.
A few minutes later, Jordan's nurse, Jamie, came in with an empty wheelchair. "Time to go for another ride, Jordan, are you ready?" It was hospital policy for patients to leave in a wheelchair after they had been hospitalized.
"Yeah!" he exclaimed.
AJ stopped what he was doing to help him into the wheelchair before putting his shoes on for him and packing the rest of their things in a small duffle bag. He and Kim both went over to Lyssa and Daniel to say their goodbyes.
"You take care of yourselves," AJ said as he hugged Lyssa and shook Daniel's hand. Kim hugged them both. "Good luck and God bless."
"Thank you so much," Daniel replied.
"It was nice to meet you, Bryce, we hope you feel better soon." AJ gave him a high five.
"Thank you," he said after Kim said something similar.
"Bye, Bryce!" Jordan said with a big grin and waved.
The four of them left the room, but were stopped at the nurse's station as they passed it. "Excuse me, Mr. McLean? Dr. Romero is stuck in surgery, but asked me to pass on her well wishes to all of you, including your mother," a nurse named Beverley said with a smile.
"Tell her we said thank you very much for everything."
She nodded curtly. "I will most certainly do that. Bye, Jordan, be good, okay?"
He nodded as Jamie continued to push him down the hallway to the elevators and AJ and Kim followed close behind. Once they made it to the bottom floor, AJ went to go get the car to pull it around the entrance before they got in. He helped Jordan in before thanking Jamie and leaving the hospital behind to finally take him home where he belonged.
"Ah, home sweet home..." AJ said as he opened the front door and stepped inside along with Kim and Jordan.
"BERNIE!" Jordan yelled as their dog ran to greet them. He stopped to let Jordan pet him as his tail wagged happily.
"Go sit on the couch, okay, Jordan? Be careful, please." Kim said.
"Okay." AJ followed him and helped him up so he wouldn't overexert himself. "Here's the remote, do as Dr. Joe said, okay? Have at it." He kissed him on the forehead and went to the kitchen.
"I'm so glad you're feeling better, babe, I think the worst is over with," AJ said as he came up behind her at the island and kissed her cheek. "No complications this time, no doctor's visit needed."
"Me, too, but more importantly, I'm just glad that our little boy's home now."
"Me, too," AJ agreed with a warm smile.
"So, what time are you going back to see your mom?"
"I'm thinking in a couple of hours, is that okay?" AJ wondered.
"Well, I can't really stop you, it's your mother, for God's sake."
"But I'm still pissed at you for that stunt you pulled the other night," Kim added as AJ went in for another kiss and he stopped once he heard that.
AJ sighed. "Kim, I left a note, come on now. Don't be like that."
Kim shook her head. "I still stand by what I've said to you numerous times. You cannot just take off like that, Alex, what if something happened to you? You didn't have your phone, so, I had no way to reach you. I was so scared, I didn't know what to think."
"I know and I've apologized so many times," AJ said and took a seat next to her. He shook his head in disbelief and lightly scoffed. "This nightmare is making me crazy and Mom still being in the hospital certainly doesn't help matters."
Kim moved to place a comforting hand on her husband's back. "And I'm still sorry for what I said about your 'bad dream.' I just got caught up in the heat of the moment and it just spilled out. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"Neither did I," he echoed and took her hand in his, rubbing the back of it thoughtfully with his thumb. "How about we call a truce, hm?"
"I think I can do that. On one condition," Kim added.
"What's that?" AJ wondered.
"That you promise to never scare the hell out of me like that ever again," Kim said with a serious tone.
AJ shook his head. "I don't think I can guarantee that—"
She changed her mind. "Fine, if you ever feel the urge to disappear on me like that again, please, don't hesitate to let me know."
AJ nodded. "I can handle that compromise. I'm really sorry for doing that, babe."
"I do understand why you felt the need to leave though, I would, too. I love you."
"And I love you," AJ echoed softly. "I'm hungry, do you want something to eat?" He stood and went to the refrigerator.
"Yeah. Jordan, Daddy's making lunch. Do you want some?" Kim called to him on the couch.
"Alright." AJ took out a few apples and yogurt and opened a cabinet and took out some peanut butter. He went to the other end of the counter and grabbed some bread and went back to the fridge for some lunch meat and cheese.
"Do you want a sandwich, J?"
"No!" he answered.
Kim tried again. "Chicken nuggets?"
"No!" he repeated.
Kim chuckled. "Well, what then?"
AJ left the counter to go talk to Jordan. "Alright, buddy, you can either have a turkey or ham sandwich or chicken nuggets. Those are your choices."
"A ham sandwich," he said.
"'A ham sandwich,' what?"
"Please," he finished.
"Thank you. Do you want anything on it?"
"I've got strawberry yogurt and apples and peanut butter. Do you want that?"
Jordan nodded. "Yeah."
AJ went back to the kitchen and got to work making one turkey and one ham sandwich.
He cut up a few granny smith apples and spread peanut butter on them and separated them onto three plates. He added their sandwiches to them and put a yogurt and a spoon on Jordan's plate before carrying it into the living room and placing it on the coffee table. "Don't move yet, I'll help you. What do you want to drink?"
"Milk," he replied.
AJ left and came back with a glass of milk. He helped Jordan onto the carpet and made sure that he was comfortable. "Alright, now, don't move too much, okay? Me and Mommy are gonna eat in the kitchen." He went back there and finished putting his and Kim's lunches together before they ate.
"Thanks for making this," she said before taking a bite of her peanut butter sandwich.
He smiled. "No problem. See? I'm not totally useless in the kitchen, now, am I?"
"No, but after almost six years of marriage,you think you'd be better at it by now," Kim smirked.
"Hey, I'm trying, alright? Sheesh..." AJ sighed and continued to eat.
"So, Tony and Bill are with your mom?" Kim asked a few minutes later.
AJ looked up from his plate. "Yeah, they take turns sitting with her every hour. They'll call me if they need me or if something happens."
After they had finished eating, AJ and Kim joined Jordan in the living room to relax together, just the three (or four, rather) of them as it should be. AJ was more than happy to have his son home safe and sound, but he couldn't help thinking about his mom by herself in the SICU still in the hospital. He needed to be there.
AJ turned to look at Kim. "Baby? Is it okay if I go back to Cedars? Will you be okay by yourself or do you need me to stay longer?"
She didn't hesitate with her answer. "No, no, Alex, it's okay. Go ahead. Your mom needs you. Give her our love, alright?"
AJ stood and kissed his wife and Jordan. "J, I'm gonna go back to the hospital to see Grandma, okay?"
"Can I come?" he asked, his voice hopeful.
"No, sorry, buddy. You need to stay here with Mommy and rest. Remember what Dr. Joe said?"
Jordan ignored his question. "I wanna go!"
AJ just tried to stay calm. "You can't, you've gotta stay here. I'm sorry," he apologized gently to him. He glanced up at Kim who was frowning slightly. "I love you both."
AJ picked up his keys from off of the coffee table and went to the front door. He opened it and shut it behind him before walking to his car and getting in it. He sighed before turning it on and heading toward the highway once again. He turned on the radio for a distraction from his racing thoughts as he got closer to the hospital.
"How is she?" AJ asked as he came upon where Tony and Bill were sitting outside of the Surgical ICU on the fourth floor.
"Dr. Jarnowski is with her right now. He said that he'd come speak to us when he was finished," Bill replied.
"So, you got Jordan home alright?" Tony asked as AJ sat down in a chair next to him.
He smiled a little. "Yeah, he's good."
"Good. Kim seems like she's finally starting to feel better," he observed.
"Yeah, she says her throat's still bothering her, but I don't think we need to worry."
A few minutes of silence passed before Denise's doctor came to talk to the three of them.
"All of the news is good," he started.
A relieved sigh could be heard from each of them.
"She's improving, but is still quite a bit of pain and will be for some time as her injuries heal. She hasn't presented with any signs or symptoms of infection since the surgery, which is exactly where she needs to be at the moment. Right now, rest is the most important thing for her."
"Thank you so much, Doctor," Bill said with a small smile.
"You're all very welcome. It is my understanding that Jordan went home today?"
"Yes, he did, he's doing well," AJ replied confidently.
"That's wonderful, that's really nice to hear. Well, I've got other patients to see. I'll be back in a few hours, you all take care, now." Dr. Jarnowski shook their hands and walked down the hall and stepped into the elevator.
"Can I go see her, is that okay with you two?" AJ wondered with a bit of an anxious tone.
"Sure," Tony said.
"I'll be back." AJ stood and once again repeated the process of washing his hands and arms before being gowned. He stepped into the ward and immediately went to Denise's bedside.
"Alex," she acknowledged softly as he took her hand.
He felt relief wash over him like a tidal wave as he heard her voice and smiled. "Hi, Mom."
AJ, Tony, and Bill walked through the front door after just returning from the hospital. They greeted Kim and Jordan who were on the couch watching TV together. "Hey, you guys. How is Denise?"
"She's doing good, Dr. Jarnowski says that she's improving and is on the road to recovery. She might get to come home next week," AJ said happily as he kissed Kim and Jordan and sat down next to them.
"That's great, isn't it Jordan?"
"Yay, I miss Grandma."
"We all do, buddy. Are you okay? Does anything hurt?" AJ wondered.
He pointed to his sore ribs. "They still hurt. And my arm, Daddy, the cast itches!"
"I know it does." he murmured sympathetically. Jordan put his head on AJ's arm and whimpered and AJ put his arm around him gently. "You get to sleep in your own bed tonight, J, doesn't that sound good?" he asked him to try to make him forget about his aches and pains.
"Yeah," he replied as his voice perked up.
AJ kissed the top of Jordan's head and glanced over at Kim. "Are any of you hungry? There's dinner in the fridge."
The three of them declined and Bill and Tony went into the kitchen to talk for awhile before heading to bed early.
7:45 rolled around quickly and AJ and Kim both put Jordan to bed to help him feel more at ease about his first night out of the hospital. He would usually fall asleep by 8 under normal circumstances, but they weren't sure how he would like sleeping on his back all night, so, it could take longer for that reason alone. He was feeling kinda cranky and restless, but fell asleep around 8:15.
AJ had stayed behind in Jordan's room to make sure he was sleeping soundly, humming and singing softly at his bedside:
For many hours and days that pass ever soon
The tides have caused the flame to dim
At last the arm is straight, the hand to the loom
Is this to end or just begin?
All of my love
All of my love
All of my love to you now
All of my love
All of my love
All of my love to you child...
Little did AJ know that Kim had been standing just outside of the slightly open door the entire time, listening to his soothing words.
'I just wish he would realize that what is really inside of him is reflected for everyone else to see...'
She knew that they were meant for Jordan to hear, but she felt comforted by the sincerity in his voice. He really was such a good father and these were moments with him that they would never get back.
AJ heard a noise and smoothed Jordan's hair lightly before standing and placing his son's old rocking chair in the corner next to the door. He saw a shadow that was not his own and left the room. "Hey. What're you still doing up here, my lady?" he asked Kim and wrapped his arms around her waist before kissing her gently.
"Just listening to you with him. What were you singing? It was beautiful."
"Oh, that? A bit of the mighty Zepp," he said with a chuckle.
AJ kissed her again. "You blew your cover..."
"I had to cough, I couldn't help it."
"You're feeling okay, though, right?" he wondered.
Kim nodded. "I'm fine, you?"
"I am tired," AJ admitted with a sigh.
"Then go to bed, silly. You need to start getting some proper sleep, these late nights certainly aren't doing you any favors." She hadn't failed to notice his paler complexion as of late and the bags that had begun to form under his eyes. She would look into them and still see the spark but could tell that he was growing weary as the days wore on.
"Yeah, quality sleep sounds good right about now." He kissed her and went to his closet to change clothes and met Kim in their bedroom. They lay awake just talking about anything and everything until they fell asleep in each other's arms. AJ finally slept peacefully for the first time in months with his wife by his side, which he hoped was a sign of better days to come.
Song Credit: "All My Love" by Led Zeppelin
There will be another update soon, don't forget to review! :D