Monday, June 28, 2010

Chapter 65

Okay, everyone, this is it, the last chapter! It's been a hell of a ride for me to write this. I never expected it to be this long, and I never expected to have so many followers keeping up with Sid and Tanner's journey. I don't know how to even thank all of you for reading, commenting, and hanging with me. You're all amazing and my inspiration to continue writing. Keep tuned to this blog though. In the next week I'll be posting a poll. I'm going to start a new story, but I have a few ideas running through my head and I don't know which I like best, so I'm going to let you decide! I'm still debating whether to put who the leading male in the story will be, because I don't really want that to affect the poll. I want it to be about the story line. What do you think? Should I put who he is, or should I leave that out and surprise you? Thanks again to everyone! Here we go.....

Sidney felt the nerves even before he walked out of the house. Something was just telling him that tonight was the night. He walked over to Tanner, who had been on bed rest for the better part of the last month now, and gave her a kiss before saying goodbye. He smiled and waved over at Grace, who was now Jordan’s fiancĂ©e. At least having someone with Tanner made him feel a little better. She was scheduled to be induced in two days when he didn't have a game, but when had anything with him and Tanner gone according to plan?

He drove in to the rink and went through his typical pre-game ritual. Another season had just recently started and there were new faces this year. Even so, Sidney felt like this could be the team that would bring the cup back to Pittsburgh. He skated out onto the ice for warm ups and tried to focus on the upcoming game. He couldn’t help but be distracted. He just felt it.

The first period passed without a problem. The team was up by 1 and they were playing well against last year’s Cup winners. The second period, however, changed everything. That’s when it happened. The period was hardly going when he felt the tap on his shoulder, and he was already standing up when Dana gave him the news.

“Get to the hospital, Daddy,” he joked with a smile.

Sidney rushed off the bench and ran as fast as he could down the runway and to the locker room. He could hear the congrats and well wishes being yelled at him by his teammates as he went, but he didn’t have time to stop and respond. Well, he probably did have time, but he wasn’t going to risk it.

He ripped off his uniform and equipment before hopping into a 30 second shower just to get the stench of sweat off of him. He threw on the jeans and shirt he’d kept in the locker room, just in case this happened, so he wouldn’t have to deal with a suit and tie. Car keys in hand, and a wildly beating heart, he jogged out to his car, smiling and waving to the security guards who called out their congratulations too.

Sidney immediately called Grace to tell her he was on his way and find out what room Tanner was in. He made it to the hospital in record time, and ran all the way to the room number Grace had given him. Tanner grinned up at him as soon as he was through the door and he grabbed her hand as he placed a kiss on her forehead.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Nervous. Giddy. Painful,” Tanner joked. Sidney heard a commotion from behind him and turned to see that the Penguins game was on TV. He smiled when he saw that the team had scored another one while he was gone.

“I can’t believe you’re watching this right now,” he commented.

“Hey, my fiancĂ© is playing,” Grace chastised him.

Sidney took the seat next to the bed and greeted the doctor who came in to say hello. They talked a bit about what to expect, procedure, and such before they were left to watch the remainder of the game. Sidney and Tanner laughed when they heard the announcement during the game about why he was no longer on the bench and playing. Tanner gave his hand a squeeze and he gave her another kiss.

Lisa, Kelly, and Hailey, who had flown in just for this occasion a few days ago, joined them a little later on to say hi. Tanner’s brother and his family weren’t too far behind. Tanner’s parents would be there in the morning, and his the next afternoon since they were coming in from much farther away. He’d had to make his teammates promise to hold off the visits until after the baby was born because he didn’t need the chaos they would bring.

Sidney sat there through the wee hours of the morning as Tanner went in and out of pain and waited for the time they could meet their son. He was trying to be patient and supportive for Tanner, but he just couldn’t wait to hold him. Finally it was time, and Sidney stood by Tanner, giving her words of encouragement and telling her how much he loved her.

Despite all the waiting they'd done the last 9 months, and the last 18 hours here in the hospital, it seemed the birth itself went by in a whirlwind. He watched the doctors take his son to check him out and make sure everything was okay as he kissed Tanner and told her he loved her. He half held his breath as he waited, and let it out in a big relieved sigh when they were told that they had a healthy 7 lb 4 oz baby boy.

Their son was handed to Tanner who immediately teared up at the sight of him. Sidney watched her tell him how much they loved him while marveling at how tiny he was. He couldn’t keep the smile off of his face as he saw as much love in Tanner’s eyes that he felt.

“Welcome to the world…..”

“Jackson,” Tanner interrupted him. Sidney looked at her in surprise. That was not the name they had decided on. She glanced up at him.

“Jackson? Where did that come from?” he questioned.

“I decided I like it and it’s going to be our son’s name. You really want to question me after I went through 18 hours of labor and pushed a son who has the same broad shoulders as you out of my vagina?” Tanner was giving him a look that dared him to argue. He rolled the name around his head for a second before smiling.

“I like Jackson,” he decided. She smiled up at him before glancing back down at the little boy squirming in her arms.

“It’s a boy! Jackson Patrick Crosby,” Sidney announced walking into the waiting room where both of their parents now were. He smiled and accepted all the hugs and handshakes from everyone before making his way back in to see his wife.

Sometimes in life, things don’t always go the way you’ve hoped or planned. There are always tangles and forks in the road with no machete or map to guide you. You take one path, beat back the overgrowth, and hope it was the right decision. There are always times that you look back at a fork or two and wonder what life would have been like if you’d taken the other route, but then again, what’s the point? You can’t go back and take it, so you should just move on and make the best of the road you did take.

When I look back at those forks in the road I look back in much different ways than a lot of people. I look back in fear. What if I’d taken the other road? Would it have gone as well as the one I did take went? There’s just no way. There’s no way I made any wrong decisions.

If I’d chosen a different road I may no longer be alive. Just imagine. If I’d chosen to forgive Sidney for lying to me on the spot, through a long list of intertwined events, I may have found the cancer too late. That would have meant that I wouldn’t be standing here, looking through the window in the hospital at my beautiful baby girl. That’s terrifying.

“Jesus, can you two make an ugly child?” Hailey asked from her position next to me. I laughed.

“Because you and Ryan have done so poorly,” I pointed out when mentioning her two children.

“Yeah, but this is child number four for you guys. You’d think one in there would get a negative gene or two.”

“Gee, thanks a lot!” I shot at her. She wrapped her arm around me and laughed.

“How’s she doing?” Sidney asked, making his way towards us.

He placed a kiss on my forehead before joining us. I watched the look in his eyes change at the sight of her. Of course he was thrilled at having three sons, but this was his only daughter, his little girl. I could already tell he was going to spoil her and she was going to be a daddy’s girl.

“She’s perfect,” I replied.

We stood there in silence for a while after Hailey had moved off, just watching her sleep. Despite having three children before her, it was never any less moving or exciting just to watch them. I’d do anything to be able to just be around all of my kids. A short time later, our three sons rushed over and Sidney lifted our youngest so he could see through the glass as he pointed out their little sister. I glanced down at my family and tears filled my eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Sidney asked when he saw.

“I’m just so…..”

“If you say lucky one more time, I’m going to be forced to leave you,” he joked.

I rolled my eyes at him, but laughed anyway. I guess I had overused that word in our relationship. I couldn’t help it though, because it was true. I’d somehow managed to not take a single wrong turn in my life. I couldn’t have if my life had ended up like this. I had everything I’d ever wanted and more than I could have ever expected. There just wasn’t another word to describe it all. I was lucky.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chapter 64

I sat up straight with Sidney’s help when the doctor walked into the room. They had to have results now. I just didn’t think I could take much more of the testing and uncertainty. I just wanted to know the seriousness of the cancer, and I prayed that we’d caught it early again. I held onto Sidney’s hand limply, because I just didn’t have the strength to do more than just place it in his.

“Do you know anything?” I asked.

“Yes, we have the results,” the doctor replied. I watched as he glanced down at his chart as if he had to double check what it said before he told me. The suspense was literally killing me and I wanted to scream at him to just say it. “I’m afraid to say that we put you through more testing than necessary.”

“What does that mean?” I questioned. I had no idea how to interpret that statement. Was I so far along that there was just nothing they could do to save me?

“It means that we were too hasty in our assumptions. None of the tests we gave you were necessary.” I watched the doctor start to smile at me. “The cancer is not back. You’re still in remission.”

It took a minute for the news to sink in. When I’d played what he’d said over in my head a few times it finally hit me. The cancer hadn’t come back. I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t going to die. Tears sprung into my eyes at the pure joy and relief I was experiencing. Then all of those emotions faded. Something was still wrong. Could it be worse?

“I don’t have cancer?” I double checked.

“No, you don’t,” he confirmed.

“But what’s wrong with me then? Something’s wrong,” I pushed. He smiled at me again.

“I wouldn’t exactly say that anything was wrong, but there is a reason for you to be feeling the way you do.” I held my breath as I waited for the diagnosis. “Tanner, you’re pregnant.”

My eyes widened in surprise and I somehow found the strength to nearly break Sidney’s hand in half. My jaw dropped in absolute shock. Had I heard him right? Did he say I was pregnant? Oh, shit. I wasn’t sure I liked the news. I wasn’t even sure I could process it. My emotions had been all over the place since yesterday when I’d thought it was the cancer. It was just too much right now.

“You’re sure?” I asked. He nodded.

“Yeah, I am. We think you’re about six weeks along now,” he replied.

Six weeks. Six weeks ago my birth control had failed me. Six weeks ago Sidney and I did something that was about to change our lives completely. Six fucking weeks ago. I was just not prepared for this. I wasn’t sure I wanted this. Sidney and I had never even had a conversation about having kids. I just figured we would wait a few years. Now we didn’t have a choice.

The doctor left after suggesting we make an appointment with an OB right away. Sidney still hadn’t said a word since we found out the news and neither of us had even looked at each other. Now I was just sitting on the bed staring at the floor while Sidney stood motionless next to me.

How was he going to feel about all of this? Was he going to be upset? Happy? Was I upset? Happy? I’m terrible with the unexpected. I’m such a planner that this was just throwing me off so much. I hadn’t planned or prepared for this, so it was hard for me to comprehend. And not hearing any sort of reaction from Sidney yet wasn’t helping.

I finally sucked it up and turned my head to look up at him. His eyes were focused on a spot on the wall across the room, but when he noticed me looking he turned his eyes to me. We just stared at each other with shock written all over our faces. I wasn’t sure what to say, and I was almost breaking down into tears. I just wanted him to tell me how he felt.

Sidney remained quiet and my mind continued to spin. Then I watched as Sidney’s eyes left mine and traveled down to my abdomen. He stared for a minute and then I watched his hand lift from his side. He moved slowly, but a few seconds later his hand was resting on my stomach and I suddenly knew how I felt. It hit me with his touch.

His eyes lifted back up to mine and at the same time smiles broke out across our faces. We both started to laugh and the tears finally spilled down my cheeks as he wrapped his arms tightly around me. We just held onto each other laughing and crying out all of our emotions. It was relief mixed with ecstasy.

“So you’re going to be a dad,” I said when we finally pulled apart.

“And you’re going to be a mom,” he returned. We both continued to grin like fools at each other.

“Are you okay with that?” I asked.

“I’m more than okay with that,” he answered.

After a little more tears and laughter I got up and got dressed before we checked out of the hospital. As we walked out to Sidney’s car I had just a mix of thoughts running through my head. So many thoughts were swirling around that I couldn’t even make sense of them. Until one felt like it hit me straight between the eyes.

“We can’t tell anyone,” I announced as we got into the car. Sidney looked over at me in surprise.

“What? Why? They’ll be excited for us,” he questioned.

“I know but…..I don’t want to jinx anything. I don’t want to tell everyone in case something happens. Can we wait? Just until three months when we know that everything is probably going to be okay?” Sidney smiled over at me and placed his hand over mine.

“We can wait.” I smiled back at him and settled back into my seat. Sidney started up the car and we began the drive home when another thought struck me.

“We have to go to Mario’s,” I told him. He glanced over at me in confusion.

“Why?” he wondered.

“Mario thinks the cancer is back. We have to tell him and Nathalie the truth. I don’t want them spending the next two months worrying about me. We have to tell them.”

Sidney agreed and we headed in the direction of their house. We pulled into the driveway and Sidney and I both took deep breaths and laughed a bit before we got out of the car and walked up to the door. We waited after ringing the doorbell until Nathalie pulled it open. She looked at the two of us with sadness in her eyes and if felt so good to know that we were going to be changing that soon.

“Come in,” she told us and led us into the family room before calling for Mario.

Sidney and I sat down on one of the couches and waited for Mario to come in. When he saw that it was the two of us he gave us each a sad smile before sitting down next to Nathalie across from us. Sidney squeezed my hand out of sight before we began the announcement.

“How are you feeling?” Mario asked.

“Emotional,” I told him truthfully. They took it completely different from how it was intended and I felt bad for leading them on a bit. “We got the test results back today.” I looked over at Sidney who looked back at me. “You tell them.” Sidney nodded and turned back to them.

“We don’t want to tell anyone about this for a while. We’re just telling you both because you already knew we were in the hospital. I hope you’ll understand,” Sidney said.

“Of course we won’t say anything. It’s not our place,” Nathalie confirmed. Sidney glanced over at me again before telling them.

“The cancer didn’t come back. Tanner’s still healthy.” The relief that washed over their faces was quickly followed by the same confusion I had felt when I’d heard the news. Just before Sidney finished the announcement I saw something in Nathalie’s eyes that told me she’d just figured it out. “We found out this morning that we are going to be parents.”

Nathalie leapt out of her seat with a yell and rushed right over to me. I stood up and accepted her hug as we both laughed like a couple of giddy teenagers. I watched as Mario also stood up and gave Sidney a hug with a huge smile on his face.

“How dare you two scare us like that!” Nathalie chastised as her and Mario switched places and hugged the other.

“I’m sorry. I had no idea it was even a possibility. It just never occurred to either of us. We’ve both had so much going on that I don’t think either of us thought about it with a clear head. We just assumed the worst,” I apologized.

“We are so happy for the both of you. I’ve been worried ever since you came to the rink yesterday,” Mario told us.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done since then, too,” Sidney said.

“We’re just going to wait until the third month before we tell anyone about it. I’m just afraid of jinxing it. There was no way I could let you two continue on thinking I was sick so that’s why we’re telling you now,” I explained.

“We won’t tell a soul,” Nathalie assured us.

Sidney and I stayed for a little while longer just sitting and talking with Mario and Nathalie before we headed home. When we walked through the door it was like Lulu and Gilly could sense that something was different. They didn’t jump up on me like they usually would have. Sidney and I marveled at the intelligence of our dogs before wrapping each other up into another laughter filled hug. We were going to have a baby.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chapter 63

Sidney sat in the chair in the hospital room in silence. He wasn’t sure he’d said a word since he and Tanner had gotten into the car at the rink to drive here. There were just no words to express what he was feeling and going through right now. Pain. Excruciating pain. Anger. Confusion. They summed his feelings up, but didn’t do them justice.

He also couldn’t get the look on Tanner’s face when she’d whispered the two scariest words in the world to him out of his mind. It's back. She was terrified and yet resigned to her fate at the same time. She looked like she was giving up. Even when she’d told him the first time she found out about the cancer that she was done fighting, she hadn’t looked the way she had in the underbelly of the rink today. Today she looked defeated.

He glanced over at Tanner who was sitting up in the hospital bed staring out the window. With the exception of answering the doctor’s questions, she hadn’t said a word either. She also hadn’t turned away from the window except to face the doctors and nurses who were making their way in and out of the room. Her face was a blank canvass displaying no emotion whatsoever.

The doctors had given them no hope of it being anything else but the cancer returning. Their faces had been sad and sympathetic. Even though they all knew that there was a chance for it to come back, no one had really expected it. They’d lived their lives like nothing could ever go wrong again, and he was starting to question if that had been the right thing to do. Maybe they should have been more cautious, should have gotten her checked out more.

Another doctor with the same grim look on his face, like all the others, had came into the room. Sidney moved positions to hold Tanner’s hand. She squeezed it just as hard as she was squeezing her eyes closed as the doctor performed a spinal tap. He watched as tears fell silently down her face until it was over. God, he hated watching her go through this all over again.

A little while later Sidney left the hospital to drive home. The doctors had told them they wanted to keep Tanner overnight and he was getting some stuff for her. He called Mario and asked him to take care of Lulu and Gilligan for the night. When they bounded up to him when he walked through the front door he broke down.

Sidney literally collapsed to the floor in the foyer and began to cry. He couldn’t blame Tanner for feeling defeated. He felt defeated too. The entire time at the hospital he’d been trying to stay strong for Tanner, to be there for her, but now that he was home he couldn’t hold it in anymore. He let himself go, let his emotions take over. Lulu and Gilly seemed to sense that something was terribly wrong, and they took up post next to him and nudged their heads into his chest.

He finally got control of himself and got up off the floor to pack some stuff up for Tanner. Every picture he saw of her, every item that belonged to her threatened to bring the tears back again. He splashed some cold water on his face and then carried the bag out to his car and drove back to the hospital. When he arrived he could see that there was still no news. Tanner was still sitting in the same position and staring out the window, that same blank expression on her face.

She didn’t even turn to look at him when he walked in. He put the bag down on the small couch in the room and walked over to her. Sidney placed a kiss on her forehead, letting it linger. When he moved away he saw that her expression was the same, but her jaw was clenching, like she was trying to hold herself together. It killed him.

Sidney sat back down in the seat he’d occupied all afternoon. He sat quietly and watched Tanner. It almost felt like he was afraid to look away, like if he did she’d suddenly be gone. That thought threatened to bring the tears back once again, but he fought them and won. He wasn’t going to cry in front of Tanner. She didn’t need that.

“I’m lucky.” Sidney blinked in surprise at the sound of Tanner’s voice. It had been whispered and he almost didn’t think he’d heard her, but when he saw her expression had shifted, he knew he had.

“What?” he asked.

“I’m lucky,” she repeated. He couldn’t comprehend why she was saying that. How could she possibly be saying she was lucky?

“How are you lucky?” He tried to keep his voice under control, tried not to let her hear the anger in his tone.

“Most people don’t get to truly live their dreams. They go an entire lifetime dreaming of things and never experiencing them. I’ve gotten to live mine,” she explained.

“Tanner…..” he started, but he wasn’t sure what to say. She must have heard the tone in his voice, the tone that signaled he didn’t agree, and she turned to look at him for the first time since they’d gotten here.

“No, Sidney, I have. My whole life I dreamed of working with animals. I've gotten to do that for the last two years. It exceeded any of my expectations. And I’ve had you. I didn’t dream of falling in love and getting married when I was younger, but that’s what happened. Achieving my dream would have meant nothing if I didn’t have you with me.” He didn’t like what he was hearing, what she was saying.

“You sound like you’re saying goodbye,” he managed to choke out while he struggled to keep his emotions in check. Tanner turned and looked back out the window for a moment. Silence hung in the air between them for a while before she spoke up again.

“I’m not. If there’s any chance I can get through this, I’m going to fight. I’m not ready to stop my work, and I’m not ready to stop being with you. I’m not giving up, I’m going to fight. I just need one promise from you,” she told him.

“What is it?” he asked.

“If they tell me it’s too advanced or inoperable, I don’t want treatments. If that’s the case I want to live the rest of my life doing what I want and being with the people I love. I don’t want to be in and out of the hospital. I’m asking you not to beg me to. I’m asking you to respect my wishes. I’m asking you not to be mad at me.”

Her voice broke on the last sentence and tears welled up in her eyes. His reaction mirrored hers and he immediately stood up and closed the distance between them. He wrapped his arms around her as he sat down on the bed next to her. For what felt like forever they just sat there holding each other, tears falling freely.

“I promise, Baby. I promise,” he finally whispered. He then turned her face up to his and kissed her, long and hard.

They sat like that, wrapped up in each other, as they both watched night fall over the city through the hospital room’s window. He didn’t want to think about the second option she’d brought up. It hurt too much to think about, so he silently prayed into the darkness that she’d be able to fight and win once again.

Doctors and nurses continued their trips in and out of the room to check on Tanner, bring her dinner she didn’t eat. Eventually as the night wore on Sidney realized that Tanner had fallen asleep. He continued to hold her even as he lay awake all night. He was going to hold her and be by her side as much as he could from now on.

She stirred in the morning and groaned, putting a hand to her head. It didn’t take long for her to completely bury her head in the darkness of the pillows with both hands gripping the back of her head at the headache. Sidney went out to find a doctor or nurse to see if there was anything they could give her for the pain. When he got back into the room a nurse was holding a bucket, and Tanner was throwing up.

Sidney felt so helpless standing there watching Tanner get sick and seeing her in pain. There was nothing he could do to help and it was driving him crazy. He didn’t want to see her like this, didn’t want her to be like this. It wasn’t fair. So much of her life since he’d met her hadn’t been fair.

When the nausea passed, Tanner lay back in the bed and squeezed her eyes closed against the headache that was still present. He climbed back into bed next to her after turning out the light and just held her as she buried her head in his chest. He wanted answers, wanted to know what her prognosis was, and he wanted to know now.

Less than an hour later a doctor came into the room. Sidney got out of bed and helped Tanner sit up so they could hear what he had to say. He stood next to her, holding her hand, waiting for the news. He was hopeful for the best news possible, but bracing himself for the worst.
If the news wasn’t good, he had to be strong for her. He knew she wasn’t going to fall apart, because that wasn’t Tanner, but he had to be there for her. He had to be ready to do whatever she wanted and needed from him.

The doctor spoke and Sidney remained silent as he listened. When they were told the news he felt Tanner’s hand squeeze his harder than she’d ever done before. He felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. Was this really happening?