Unable to deal with the expressions of shock and naked fear he saw on his family’s faces, Victor said nothing. He merely covered his face with his hands as tears slipped down his cheeks.
Neither Nikki nor anyone else said anything, everyone just sat there in stunned silence as Nikki held him close.
Vicki’s jaw dropped as she whispered, “What? I didn’t hear you right, I couldn’t have.”
Finally looking at them for the first time since he’d told them the heart wrenching news, Victor replied quietly, sombrely, with an uncharacteristic note of tired defeat in his voice, one that he tried desperately to hide, “You heard right, Victoria.”
“What? What’s going on? What are you talking about?” Nick asked unable to believe what they’d just been told.
Looking up at Nikki, as much for guidance and support as anything else, Victor searched within him for the strength to continue on, though he knew this would be the hardest thing he’d ever have to do. Unfortunately he found none of the strength he needed more than he could put into words.
“I know you don’t want to do this, but you have to. Victor, it’s time.”
Sighing Victor silently, dejectedly nodded and prepared to tell them everything. “Well, I’m not sure what you know.”
“Nothing! We don’t know a damn thing because you refuse to tell us anything!” Vicki shot out, fed up with her father’s secrecy as she shot up from her seat on the couch!
“Vicki, come on, back off and just let him talk!”
“What? Are you serious? Nicholas, how many times did we ask him to tell us what’s going on?”
“Damn it Victoria! Just sit there and listen! This is hard enough on your father without you badgering him like this! He needs you to support him right now, not treat him like he’s done something wrong!”
“What? Why am I the bad guy?” Vicki asked indignantly as she sat back down on the couch.
“Nikki, it’s alright, I’ll handle this,” Victor whispered as he prepared to give them the heartbreaking news. “I’m dying. My heart’s in bad shape and there’s very little the doctors can do at this point.”
“What the hell is going on?” Nick asked, completely blind-sided.
“That’s what I want to know!” Vicki echoed, fire blazing in her eyes.
“When I had my physical, the doctor found blockages in my heart. They were severe enough that she wanted to do something.” Victor began quietly, hesitantly.
“What? What did she want to do?” Vicki asked fearfully.
“She did some tests and exploratory surgery and then suggested a bypass.”
“Okay, then when’s the bypass scheduled for?” Nick asked, totally confused, completely numb as he tried to take in what he was hearing.
“I’ve got an appointment scheduled for a couple of days from now.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Dad, what’s going on and why didn’t you tell us anything before now?” Vicki gently pressed him for information.
“Victoria, what you don’t know, what none of you know, is that I’ve been on heart medication since then, several, and none of them had any affect. At this point, the bypass is my only option.” Victor’s heart broke as he looked at his family’s faces and saw the naked desperation, the terror in their eyes as they tried to come to grips with the news.
“What do we do now?” Vicki asked fearfully as she looked at her parents, desperately seeking reassurance.
“Well, like I said, there aren’t any medications left I can go on. I’ve tried them all, even the ones that were ready for experimental testing.”
“But, that doesn’t mean that there’s no hope. Right Dad? Right? Mom, come on, say something! Will one of you just please say something?!” Vicki demanded, her fear finally getting the best of her.
“My sweetheart, the only thing left for them to do at this point would be a triple bypass. There are three arteries that are badly plugged because of years of damage. And another one isn’t far behind. The only way I’ll have any chance of being around for your brother and sister’s births is if I have the bypass.”
Stunned silence hung in the room for what seemed like forever.
Finally, Sharon asked sadly, “What can we do, is there anything we can do?”
Smiling softly, touched by her concern, Victor shook his head and said, “No, Sharon, unfortunately there’s nothing anybody can do at this point.”
Numb, with a blank stare in her eyes, Vicki silently walked into the solarium.
“Vicki, what is it? Vicki?” Nick called to her from his seat on the couch.
Sharon asked fearfully, “What happens if that doesn’t work?”
Completely fed up, as she stormed back into the living room, Vicki rounded on her!
“Shut up, just shut up, Sharon! You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! Dad’s going to be fine! He’ll be just fine!”
Nikki and Victor exchanged heartbroken glances as they watched and listened to her daughter and it became painfully obvious just how afraid she was.
“I’ve never seen her like this,” Victor whispered quietly.
“Neither have I. But, I can’t say I blame her for feeling the way she does,” Nikki replied just as quietly, her eyes never leaving the spot where Victoria paced the solarium.
“Victoria, my sweetheart, come here, come back into the living room and sit down, alright? We need to talk,” Victor gently coaxed.
Victoria didn’t give any indication she’d heard her father as she continued to pace the room silently, slowly and deliberately.
With a pained expression, Nikki took her by the hand and lead her back to the couch to sit and talk.
“My sweetheart, I know this is difficult.”
“Difficult? Difficult? You have no idea! You have no clue what this is doing to me! Why didn’t you just tell me, why? What stopped you?” Vicki shot out angrily.
“Vicki come on, this isn’t about you!” Nick jumped in angrily.
“Damn it, Nick, I know that! Contrary to what you and everybody else thinks I know the world does not revolve around me! But I damn well have a right to know why Dad kept this from us for so long. And, Mom, why are you so calm? How can you be so calm? You should be furious after hearing what Dad’s done, what he’s kept from all of us! But you’re just sitting there calmly, not saying a word. What’s going on? Why aren’t you-” Vicki stopped mid rant as the truth sank in.
Having reached her breaking point, Vicki screamed accusingly, furious, “You knew all along, didn’t you? You knew what was going on and you didn’t say a word to any of us. How could you? How could you do that when you knew how worried we were about Dad? HOW COULD YOU?!”