Cliff Richard was in town and Deanna has never missed Cliff Richard show whenever he visited Awtotom. This time too, Deanna bought two tickets four months in advance, as in other times she thought Ruby would go with her and they would enjoy the evening together. But as the date of the show approached, Ruby found that she should not strain herself for the thrill of Cliff Richard and the Shadows — if she falls sick during the show, it would spoil the fun of Deanna and perhaps a few others; so instead of Ruby, Tony had to go to the show with Deanna. Ruby rested at home.
Fun was perhaps more with rhythmic Tony, as Deanna and Tony joined in many of their favourite songs: ‘So I’ve Been Told’, ‘You Don’t Know’, ‘Bachelor Boy’, ‘Summer Holiday’, ‘Since I Lost You’, and so on.
Tony and Deanna had their dinner and drinks before the show and had a glass of champagne during the break. It was very late when Tony and Deanna, thrilled and enchanted by the show, returned home.
‘Ruby might be in the bed now’ said Tony, as he opened the door lock with his key — Deanna and Tony went in. As they entered, they heard a perplexing noise from the bathroom, they rushed and found Ruby vomiting and vomiting very hard; the vomit was coming out of her body with the sheer force that made her restless; she tried to rest on the basin, but could not, she fell on the floor.
All the fun of the evening already vanished; Tony rushed and called 000-ambulance. The voice over triple zero said, — ‘Ambulance would be here forthwith, but hold the patient, so that she does not fall and damage her body.’
Soon ambulance arrived; both Tony and Deanna accompanied the bewildered patient. Emergency staff found the condition is serious and sent the patient Ruby straight to the operating theatre. With a few quick tests, doctors detected rupture in the oesophagus, the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach. As most of oesophagus is located in the chest, a portion of the food had slipped through the ruptures into the chest. The operation to clear off the food from the chest was scheduled on the next day, as a few pathological tests needed to be completed before that. The oesophagus was clamped at both the mouth and stomach ends and as no food could be taken nutrients were supplied via intravenous drips.
Both Tony and Deanna went to see Ruby before the operation; when they were waiting for the operation to be completed, Tony got a message saying that the doctors had cleared off one side of the chest when the patient had a cardiac arrest and the procedure had to be discontinued, Ruby was brought to the Intensive Care Unit. When Deanna and Tony were discussing who should go home and who should remain in the hospital for any errands, Deanna received one SMS; she seemed disturbed and perplexed on receiving the message.
‘What happened?’ Tony asked, ‘Do you have to go somewhere?’
‘Yes, Tony, the partner of one of my friend has a serious accident, and she needs my immediate help. They are in another hospital and I have to go ASAP. I would see you at home when you reach there in the evening.’ With these words Deanna left, it seemed there is some urgency.
What Deanna did not tell Tony was the name of the hospital she was going to and the name of the patient involved. In fact, the involved patient was John and as Tony has the impression that John was overseas on an assignment; Deanna did not like to change her story so suddenly.
Deanna reached the hospital, where John was admitted a few days ago. After consulting the hospital staff, she came to know John had a heart attack a week ago, but he could not realize the difference, because he was diabetic as well; he was a bit clumsy in his movements and went to his GP for help. The GP however could at once diagnose and sent him straight to the hospital via ambulance. When Deanna reached John’s bed, he was in a coma; Deanna was told the left side of John’s body, one hand and one leg were paralysed. Deanna asked the hospital, how they got her mobile number; she was told in John’s mobile phone her phone number was listed as ICE [In Case of Emergency] contact.
The timing of John’s sickness put Deanna in a very difficult position. As Deanna was still married to John, she was obliged to approve any decision the hospital needed to take for operation on John’s body. She knew for certain that John did not want to involve her, but he forgot to remove Deanna’s number from ICE contact list. Again, Ruby was seriously ill and chances of her survival at this point were estimated to be 10%; so when Tony needs her time dearly, she needs to set apart some time for John without letting Tony know.
A couple of weeks later, Ruby’s condition got a bit better; she was transferred from the ICU to a bed in the general ward. She was being watched for heart condition, blood pressure etc, before the doctors could plan for clearing off the chest around the ruptured oesophagus and unclamping the oesophagus. Poor Deanna, however, received an urgent call from John’s hospital. John is brought to senses now, but one important decision needed to be taken by John himself as well as the next of his kin to decide the course of future hospital actions:
Option 1 is to do nothing and let John relax till he dies in coma.
Option 2 is to apply antibiotic fluid via intravenous drips, which would be very painful to John. There is only 10% chance that John would recover fully, and the probability of painful death is 90%.
In this important decision, Deanna could not consult any one — Tony and Ruby do not know the exact whereabouts of John and they are tied up with Ruby’s serious illness. Though John was in senses, he could hardly talk and respond to Deanna’s questions. Deanna was a bit confused, she almost advised mercy killing of John, as she thought John would suffer more pains if the treatment is continued using antibiotics.
John, in the mean time, managed to get Annie’s contact details and advised the hospital to contact her. Annie consulted the surgeons and considered that there is a fair chance of curing John by using antibiotics. For the first time, Annie and Madison got a chance to meet Deanna at the hospital after fixing an appointment over phone. They convinced Deanna on the choice of antibiotics and the doctor was advised accordingly. After fighting for two months, John was cured; none of his limbs remained paralysed. John went home and within a few weeks he again started his usual funny conversation with Annie, Madison, Harry and Hillary.
Ruby’s condition was getting better and better, and the hospital surgeons were planning for the due operation to clear off food particles in the chest, stitching oesophagus and unclamping its ends. Tony started going to his work regularly, and visited Ruby in the evenings; as John has been discharged from the hospital and Deanna need not visit him daily, she used to visit Ruby regularly. One of these days, when Deanna was with Ruby and trying to understand Ruby’s unspoken words through her gestures and finger movements, Ruby’s head dropped on one side and she started drooling. Deanna immediately called the nurse, who called the resident surgeon. The resident surgeon said that Ruby had cardiac arrest and she was transferred to the ICU. Deanna informed Tony, who managed to be there within 45 minutes. But Tony did not get any chance to see Ruby from close; Ruby died when Tony was watching through the wall of ICU.
Next few days passed in organizing farewell to Ruby. While organizing the funeral at the crematorium, inviting friends and relatives, Deanna was missing Ruby most. Whatever Deanna was doing she was looking for one person for help, and that person was Ruby, not there anymore. Deanna looked through Ruby’s phone/address book and selected some from there — including Ruby’s son of previous marriage — Osborn, Ruby’s brother Dicky. Tony invited his two daughters though she did not inform his divorced wife. Tony and Ruby did not have any child together. Most of the assembled guests read a few lines about Ruby; in many different ways Ruby was a very special person to each of them. Deanna said a few words too, she said, ‘I feel, Ruby is still hiding behind that door, and would come out to hug me, to help me in whatever I do, she loved me so much.’
Tony said, ‘I met many persons in my life and liked bits of most of them, but Ruby seemed to be the whole world to me and she made this world so beautiful and comfortable to me that I loved her and loved the world. I can’t imagine what I would do in the world without her.’
The funeral was over. The guests departed one by one after bidding good bye to Tony. Dying is one of the few events in life — certain to occur, yet we hardly ever plan for it. We spend more time getting ready for a week’s holiday than we do for our final departure from the Earth. When everyone else departed, Deanna went to Tony and together they completed the formality of handing over the hall to the funeral services director and headed home. The home was really not much different, for last couple of months Ruby was not here, yet all the hours Tony and Deanna were engrossed in thinking about her — who would go to the hospital and when, who would see the surgeons to get the latest developments in Ruby’s condition, who would get something ready for eating as nothing need be taken for Ruby.
In Tony’s bedroom, a frame of Ruby’s photo was mounted on the wall. Every night when Deanna came to say good night to Tony, she stood a while near the photo, as if saying good night to her as well. One such night, Tony kept his hand on Deanna’s back possibly to console her; Deanna in response rested her head on Tony’s chest. For a few seconds, they forgot the time and space — they did not know what they wanted to do next.
‘You need not go to your room, Deanna. You may sleep here if you like’, Tony said, ‘I won’t touch you.’
‘Yes, Tony.’ Said Deanna, ‘I know, you would look after me well. Let me sleep here tonight and see how we feel.’
For next three months, Deanna did not make any trips — domestic or overseas. Tony used to go to work every day; Deanna spent her time on the Internet, often sending emails to her friends and ex-colleagues, sometimes meeting them for lunch or coffee. Deanna could hardly realise, she had gradually filled in the void of Ruby; Tony looked forward to seeing her when he returned from work every day. After dinner, they used to go for a walk and then go to relax for the night. When in bed together, Deanna liked to see Tony’s face when she touched and felt Tony’s chest and arms, while Tony did not look at Deanna’s face; he wished he was still having Ruby in close quarter.
Deanna still liked to check the special offers for flights, tours and hotels. As she found a good deal for NZ tour, she asked Tony, if he can manage leave for a week. Tony found this interesting too and secured leave for a week. For the first time, they started touring together. Ruby has accompanied Deanna a few times before, now Tony and Deanna started flying as a touring couple.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish