“Excuse me?” Tasmin said waving her hand slightly. “Nurse?”
She spun around, saw Tasmin, and smiled.
“Hi there,” the nurse said. “Can I help you?”
“Um, yeah. You can, actually,” Tasmin said, her voice wavering.
“What seems to be the problem?”
“My name’s Tasmin. I’m a good friend of Natalie Coleman. I believe she’s in a coma at the moment?”
“Yes,” the nurse looked at Tasmin with empathy. “I’m Irene. I am sure you have heard the news of Natalie’s condition?”
“Yes,” Tasmin’s voice cracked. “I have.”
“I’m so sorry,” the nurse said, shaking her head. “You have to understand that compared to previous cases, Natalie is very fortunate. There is a good chance that she will survive.”
“I know. I just...I would love to see her,” Tasmin said. “Or at least know a little more about how she’s doing.”
“Okay,” Irene said, smiling. “Just give me a sec. I need to ask some of the nurses who are supervising Natalie’s condition at the moment how stable she is, and whether she can have visitors. I’ll be back.”
Tasmin waited a couple of minutes until the nurse came back.
“Can I see her?” she asked nervously.
“At the moment Natalie’s family is in there,” Irene said. “It has been strictly family only for the past hour.”
“So I can’t go and see her?”
“Tasmin...look - I know where her ward is. I could take you there in a moment, but we won’t be able to go inside, otherwise that would be breaking the rules. However there is a glass door where you can look through. I can’t promise anything, but I think you will be able to go inside tomorrow.” The woman told Tasmin.
“Thank you,” Tasmin felt relief blossom inside of her. “How long do you think she will be in her coma for?”
“We’re not sure, Tasmin,” the nurse sighed. “But in about half an hour we will be doing some...tests on Natalie’s condition. These tests will determine everything.”
“What do you mean by everything?” Tasmin felt the nerves come back into her stomach. “Do you mean...it will determine whether she - she doesn’t make it, or she does and has...permanent damage to her brain?”
“Basically, yes,” Irene said. There was immense sadness in her voice. “If we decide that Natalie is weaker than we thought and will not make it through the coma, we will put her on life support until...we get permission to take her off it.”
Tasmin wiped a tear of her cheek. She had to stay strong, for Natalie.
“And if the tests are a positive result?”
“Then we wait. If she is strong enough, she has the ability to get through it. But ultimately, it’s up to her - whether she has the will to keep going, or not.” The nurse told Tasmin. “That will be the hardest time for everyone.”
“Can...you take me to see her now?” She said, ignoring the churning in her stomach. “Please, can you take me?”
“We have to wait until her family comes out,” Irene put a hand on Tasmin’s shoulder.
“But the tests are in a half-hour!”
“Then they have half an hour until they must exit the ward.” The nurse told her. “Why don’t you get some rest?”
“Please,” Tasmin found herself crying. “Please take me to see her! I need to see her!”
“Don’t raise your voice, Tasmin,” Irene warned. “I will take you, but only for a short time. Follow me, and stop crying. Weakness is spread easily in a hospital, like a deadly virus. Weakness brings pain and panic.”
They began walking down a corridor.
“How is crying weakness?” Tasmin asked, wiping her face.
“It shows that you are losing faith. You are giving in to the fact that the person is gone. Everyone here is losing someone. In each of these wards, there are people in critical conditions who may not survive the night. The loved ones of these people need hope to hold on to. If they let go of that hope, they have nothing.” Irene said softly to Tasmin. “Don’t lose faith, or others will.”
Michelle was holding Karyn’s hand. Her face was streaked with tears, but with them you could see the strength she was covering up her sadness with.
Oliver had his arm around Natalie’s grandmother, who was crying, her face in her hands. His face was expressionless. No. That wasn’t the word for it. You could see, so obviously, the ache in his heart. But everyone dealt with pain in a different way. Everyone showed it differently, too.