Andreas returned to the house and went in search of Joan to tell her what he had done in his foolishness and heartache. Joan! He called out because this mansion was so huge he could spend the entire day searching for her and miss her at every turn.
He called out again this time she answered from a room to the right he headed that way, and he walked into a leather-furnished room that looked like a private office cum mini library it had a gorgeous Vintage Persian Tabriz Rug just like his mother had back in Greece and she was standing by the side cabinet when he entered, would you like a drink she asked him politely.
Yes, thank you I think I need a double and to have my head examined and screwed on right.
Joan just smiled at him while she poured a double for each of them, I know it’s a bit early for a drink but you’re going to need it in a few minutes. He looked at her questioningly. She put the bottle down and walked over to the 3-seater leather couch, now young man what stupidity did you just do, that girl ran out of here in tears and I know better than to try and stop her I’ve brought that child up and she is a stubborn as a mule and 3 times as hard-headed to boot.
Andreas took a sniff of the amber liquid in his glass a strong Aruba espresso fused with a rich plum pudding sherry, and a candied orange peel aroma invaded his senses he wondered at the smell it was so enticing he took a sip and couldn’t believe the quality it tasted amazing with a contrast of rich sweetness with an explosive crackle of sizzling spices and bitter mocha. The finish was a fresh spring-like breeze of mint with a bright citrus lemony-green quality. He got up off the couch and walked to the cabinet to pick up the bottle it was a Signet a single malt whiskey from the highlands of Scotland it really had a melting sweetness and explosive spiciness that was still on his tongue, a very special drink indeed.
I’m afraid to ask how much one of the bottles set a person back Joan. Andreas took another sip.
Oh, there are cases of this in the cellar Laelia saved the distiller’s wife from aggressive cancer and he sent her a gift of ten years' supply at almost a thousand a bottle. So quite a lot if you ask me.
Wow! What a generous guy. Anyway, Joan I made a huge foo par I don’t think Laelia will ever forgive me, I basically accused her of hiding behind a dead man’s child so that she could hide away from love and live her life.
He sat down next to Joan.
She took his hand, So you told her what we were all afraid to say for the last 3 years, I and all her colleagues and friends have been skirting around it since Paul's death and Laelia has refused to give up on the idea of having an In Vitro baby from Pauls frozen sperm, you just told her the truth and she reacted like we all knew she would which is the reason we didn’t say anything because we value her in our lives but you are a newcomer and don’t have a relationship of years to protect by being too supportive, you my boy did the right thing for the wrong reason, you were lashing out because of your own pain and because of that, you hurt her because you were hurting.
Like I said my Laelia is stubborn but she seems to like you and I’m sure she will eventually forgive you and you two can be friends but until that happens I think you need to know a few things about her that she can’t tell you herself.
Seeing that you will be my houseguest for the next few months at least, I feel you will become a part of my everyday life and of course, you will see my dear Laelia when she comes to visit at weekends that is if she is brave enough to come back and face the truth you just flung at her.
Andreas had the inclination to apologise again but Joan forestalled him, no sweetheart she needed to be woken up from the bubble she had formed when Paul was diagnosed, through it all she stayed strong, she was a rock and she never broke to this day I don’t think she has broken down and grieved for the husband she has lost, she has just kept running away from everything that reminds her too much of him or that shows her he is no longer here.
She never moved into this mansion that was bought for them, instead, she stayed in her penthouse apartment, she hasn’t looked at any of the photos of them together she even swapped to a different office and no longer works at the same place because there were too many memories of Paul, she has basically cocooned herself in a world that he never existed in, she doesn’t see the friends they had together she hasn’t even seen or spoken to his parents since the day of the funeral.
Her sole focus has been to get pregnant via In Vitro and I think she has done that for the wrong reasons too but as I said she is hard-headed and has refused any interference on my part, so I just made sure that she came and stayed with Dr Miles as her Gynaecologist so that I was there for her every time the In Vitro failed, but this time it didn’t fail this time it succeeded and I don’t think she knows how to handle that fact because for 3 years she has kept grieving for a baby that was never conceived and then finally the baby is all too real but there is no Paul which I think she is starting to realise.
You see Laelia married Paul on his deathbed just hours before he died; they had fought his cancer for almost 2 years but as she herself knew it was futile, his tumour was aggressive, when it was first discovered he had just proposed to her and they were planning their fairy-tale wedding on Zoo lake but when he was diagnosed all planning ceased and she focussed all her efforts and time on curing Paul.
Yes, Andreas she was the Neurologist that diagnosed his tumour, he had been suffering severe migraines and having problems with sudden imbalance as well as periods of complete confusion, so she insisted on him coming into her offices for a full neurological exam to test his vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength and reflexes and when those results were concerning she ordered an MRI a CT and a PET scan and as each test increased her anxiety and told her the same thing, that Paul had a brain tumour and when the final results showed it was inoperable she did a biopsy and this is when her world basically stopped working properly.
She diagnosed Paul with Glioblastoma which is sometimes called “The Terminator” due to its fast and deadly nature, Glioblastoma has a median survival time of nine months without treatment and an additional seven months with standard therapies and Paul's Tumor was inoperable and aggressive.
She gave him about 6 months to live if they didn’t attempt treatment. She asked Paul to go to the Sperm Bank and have his sperm frozen because all the chemotherapy would destroy his healthy sperm and they had wanted loads of children.
Andreas was staring at Joan, he just couldn’t form any words about how had Laelia coped with all of this and how she is still standing.
Well, she jumped right in she cancelled all her appointments and spent every waking moment trying to extend his life and treat him he was in such shock that he went along with everything she suggested and wanted to do they went through, the problem with Pauls tumour was because it was Glioblastoma it is diffuse, this means they have threadlike elements that spread out into the brain it can be hard to tell the difference between the edges of the main part of the tumour and normal brain tissue. So operating was out of the question.
Laelia tried everything, from approved science to things that weren’t even legalised in South Africa she flew in her specialised wafers which are only licensed in the UK because they are small wafers, coated with a chemotherapy drug, that is put directly into the brain at the end of surgery. This means the treatment gets around the blood-brain barrier that prevents many chemotherapy drugs from entering the brain. And she put her whole practice and Doctors license at risk but he just didn’t respond to any of the treatments and he was getting sicker and sicker. She may have been the inventor of the drug and treatment method but South Africa hadn’t and still hasn’t legalised its use here.
She fought hard to keep him alive, I think he gave up on living long before she realised he couldn’t be saved no matter how hard she tried.
He held out purely for her or out of stubbornness and he held on for 23 months the morning of the 27th of November he told her through cracked lips he would like to marry her before he died, she knew then she had lost.
The priest had come I was in attendance as were Paul's parents and they were married, 8 hours later Paul died in her arms.
The next day Laelia started In Vitro, like she was still fighting to save Paul, she kept fighting to have his baby like the baby would make it so that he had never died. And with each failure she just got up and tried again this was her 26th and last chance can you understand how much she has gone through in the last 5 years, she relives her husband’s death and struggles every time her fertilisation fails, and now I’m not sure she knows what to do, because she has succeeded in becoming pregnant and she hasn’t moved on with her life in any sense.
And now Andreas there is you!
Andreas had been listening and kept quiet this whole time, he had taken in everything Joan had said he had grown more and more upset at his behaviour earlier the more she spoke and he had felt more and more compassion for Laelia every minute that went by and then Joan said something that didn’t make sense at all. And now Andreas there is you!
What do you mean and now there’s me, Yeah I am sorry and yes I treated this whole situation badly I am infinitely sorry for how I acted earlier, but I don’t know how to fix it or even how to apologise after what you just told me, Joan.
You misunderstand my boy, I merely mean now you have come into the picture and Laelia for the first time since Paul's death looks like she is alive and a hot-blooded woman who has feelings other than the pain and stress she has been dealing with for 5 years.
She looks at you and her face lights up, I haven’t seen my child smile and laugh in nearly 5 long years Andreas, do you know what that does to a mother’s heart, my goddaughter has been a shadow of herself going through the motions trying to get pregnant and fighting for it like a warrior and doing her job the best way she can but there has been no pleasure, you bring her pleasure since she stormed out of your consultation room yesterday my sweet Laelia had been emotional and has acted in ways she hasn’t done in all these years, she has had fun and I’ve seen her smile so many times since she met you that I feel that you are the missing link in her life and could just well be her salvation.
I can’t Joan, he said it with so much anguish she started, I just lost the love of my life I’m still grieving this is why I came to South Africa to take a step back from my normal and find myself without Alessia. She was my world and she was 37 weeks pregnant when she and our baby died.
I was driving her to the hospital to give birth, her water had broken at home a week early and everything was going fine, she wasn’t very far dilated yet and we had plenty of time to get to the hospital, we got hit from the passenger’s side by a drunk driver in a sports car, Alessia was hit full on and I was flung from the car when I came to, the ambulance had already arrived as they were loading Alessia in I jumped off my gurney and took over, I told them I was her husband and gynaecologist and that she was in labour that’s why we were on the road to the hospital, the paramedic shook her head at me and said that she is sorry but the baby was already dead, the impact had killed the infant and that it would be a stillbirth, I told them not to tell her when she woke up.
We sped towards the hospital to save my Alessia, when we arrived the doctors were ready they knew not to say anything about the baby as I had called ahead as this was the hospital I was a resident at and all the best doctors were on hand to save my wife, she woke up while we were wheeling her into surgery she was still in labour even though the baby no longer lived and she was going to give birth even with her broken legs and shattered collarbone this is what she told the doctors and we all knew it was the only way because operating on her for an emergency caesarean was not going to be an option while she was in so much shock.
Alessia worked hard to bring the baby into the world but when there wasn’t a cry she became distressed and started pulling on the staff to let her up so she could see, when I took her hand and told her our son was stillborn the machines in the theatre started blaring and her Blood pressure suddenly dropped she was haemorrhaging and she was having a seizure and her heart was beating erratically all this in the span of seconds she died within moments and there was nothing we could do, the accident had caused an Amniotic fluid embolism meaning the amniotic fluid had gotten into her bloodstream and poisoned her and haemorrhaging on top of that had pushed her system to shut down completely.
One minute I was happily married expecting my first little baby boy and the next I was all alone, I haven’t even yet come completely to terms with my own heartache and you are asking me to be Laelia’s hope or shield or whatever you are actually asking me to do Joan, I don’t think I can’t do it I’m broken.
Yes Andreas you are both too broken to love and that’s why you’re perfect for each other.
Andreas just shook his head and left the study.