Can you hear the silence? It is so very loud.
I remember that deafening silence, so very well. The doctor had just left the room. He did excuse himself, I remember that, but I’ve no idea why he left the room. We sat there. My eyes were focused on the dusty clock sitting on the overcrowded window sill. The clock blurred every few seconds as I felt my cheeks getting wetter. My (now) husband sat beside me. I felt his hand, all clammy and shaking, touching my upper leg. I guess he wanted my attention.
I continued to stare at the clock.
I heard him. I heard his sigh. It wasn’t his normal sigh. It was the heaviest, loudest, most heartbreaking sigh I had ever heard. I couldn’t look at him. He got up. “Jesus Christ,” he let himself sob. Slowly I looked up at him. His head was hanging low as the tears now fell from his nose. I looked back at the dusty, horrible clock.
The doctor was back. “Sorry about that,” he said. I wiped my eyes as ‘D’ sat back down, rubbing his face with a crumpled-up tissue. “We have an appointment set up with a genetic counsellor for you,” he said, handing ‘D’ a tissue. “But it will be next week,” he sighed. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes, exhaled slowly. I watched his big chest rise and fall. I looked away as his eyes popped back open. “I, I.. ” he stammered. “I cannot stress how sorry I am. I know this is very shocking news. I will be here for you both, and Ethan, whenever you need me. I am deeply, deeply sorry. We just don’t come across this condition. We just don’t…”
I am sure he was still talking when I suddenly found myself standing up, gathering the single leaflet he had handed us an hour earlier.
“Oh, Miss Smyth, I’m not. You can’t…”
“Doctor Browne.” I knew my voice was shaking as I felt ‘D’ slip his fingers into mine. “You’ve just told me my son is…”
I couldn’t say it. My eyes stung as my chest collapsed. I had never felt my heart break until that moment. I had no control. Everything went black.
I remember ‘D’ rubbing my hand as a nurse was trying to give me water. Doctor Browne was standing over me. “You’re OK Miss Smyth. The nurse is here and Mr. Renton and I are going to help you up now.” He nodded at the nurse, then at ‘D’.
I brought myself to my feet and drank the ice cold water. I thanked the nurse. She left the room. ‘D’ rubbed my back, his eyes all red and watery. He didn’t open his mouth. I think he was afraid the same would happen to him. I understood that. That was, in fact, the only thing I understood that whole entire week.
That was the week the lovely doctor in his dusty brown office told us our son was dying.