#YRfanfiction #Newmans #Niktor Now&Forever: Playtime Is Over Pt. 4

Published November 4, 2012 by tdaddetta16

Chapter Ten
“He does, he’s just territorial. Your father’s genes are kicking in.” Nikki told her with a smile.
“Mom.” Victoria began one more attempt to try and get through to her mom.
“Victoria, we’ll tell her, we will. We’ll tell her as soon as we know for sure what’s going on.”Nikki promised. 
“Okay, but I don’t think we can wait much longer.”Vicki relented, reluctantly, wishing she didn’t have to say a word, that she could somehow give her mother what she wanted most in the world-reassurance that her father would be okay.
As she looked over at Victor sound asleep in bed, chalk white and getting weaker, Nikki thought to herself, ‘I know, dear God, wish I didn’t, but I know just how little time we have.’ Turning to face her daughter, Nikki told her, as firmly as she cold, “I know Abby needs to know, I know that, Victoria. And she will, I promise we’ll tell her when the time’s right.”
Somewhat satisfied she’d gotten through to her mother, Victoria replied, “Okay, I’m going to stop by the cafeteria and get you something to eat and drink.”
“Victoria, it’s no use. I can’t keep anything down.”
“Mom, please, do it for me. Please, you’ve got to eat something.” Victoria pleaded emotionally, hoping, against her better judgement that her fears weren’t showing.
With a tired nod and a kiss on the cheek, Nikki watched her walk out of the room.
Hoping it would get her mind off of the fears racing around in her head, Nikki returned to her research. “Since the left side of the brain is responsible for language, math and logic and the right side is responsible for spatial abilities, face recognition, visual imagery and music, there had to have been some damage to some part of each side; the question is what parts of each side of Victor’s brain were damaged?” 
“The cerebellum works for muscle coordination and keeps normal muscle tone and posture along with coordinating balance. So, could damage to it be causing the paralysis?” 

“Because the cerebrum coordinates sensory data and motor functions and governs intelligence and reasoning, learning and memory, could that be damaged, causing the paralysis and memory loss?” Nikki thought to herself aloud before continuing. “If the temporal lobe gets auditory signals, processing language and the meaning of words, could his hearing be affected and that’s why he can’t talk? Is there a problem with how he’s hearing what people say?” Nikki let out a frustrated sigh as she considered the many hours she’d spent reviewing the research without any success, without any of her questions being answered.

“Could damage to the parietal lobe be causing the paralysis since it’s connected with the sensory cortex and processes information about touch, taste, and pressure, pain, hot and cold? It is associated with movement, orientation, recognition, and perception of stimuli, so, could that explain the paralysis? It’s also associated with speech, so could damage to it be causing the speech problems too?” ‘So many questions and still no answers,’ Nikki said to herself with a tired sigh and a shake of her head. Shaking her head, as if to shake away the exhaustion and defeat threatening to envelope her, threatening to swallow her whole, she reminded herself, “That may be true, but I can’t give up, I have to keep going, I have to keep digging, for my children’s sake as much as Victor’s. They can’t lose their father just like I can’t lose my husband.” 
‘Despite what the doctors think-’ Nikki seethed as she thought of one in particular ‘Who does that baby faced doctor think he is anyway? How dare he assume he knows better than me what Victor wants; how dare he think, let alone insinuate that I should just give up on him; throw him away like some piece of trash?- I will not be told what’s best for my husband! They know facts, figures, statistics and studies. I know my husband! I know my husband, damn it!’ 
It was Victor stirring in bed and his pained moans that tore her from her silent rampage and brought her back to reality. “Sh, darling, it’s alright, I’m here. I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere, not without you,” she murmured softly as she ran her fingers through his hair and tried to ignore the chills that, it seemed more and more; had never really left her; nor would they.

Steeling her determination, she trudged on. “There really is a first time for everything, I guess. This is probably the first time I can honestly say Victor’s stubborn streak will come in handy. It’s funny, but looking back now, I can’t imagine where he’d be without it.”

Chuckling, Nikki smiled as she thought back to an earlier conversation with Victoria. “If I’m as stubborn as Victor, or worse, it’s because I’ve had to be. She should know that by now; how else am I supposed to get through to Victor when he’s determined not to listen to a word anybody has to say. Besides; Victoria’s one to talk. She’s more stubborn than Victor and I put together!”

Nikki looked back on her time with Victor and smiled brightly. “He’s always been there for me when I needed him; no questions asked.” Sighing, she let her mind take her back, let herself be wrapped in the tapestry of memories washing over her. Laughing more than she had since the whole ordeal began, Nikki said, her smile bright but tremulous, “No other man would’ve ever put makeup on me, no matter how much I begged. But Victor did. I asked him on a whim, never really expected him to do it, but he did it. And, redecorating our room for my homecoming; I’ll never forget it how that took my breath away. Whether it’s his grand gestures-the trips, candle lit dinners and all the extravagant gifts, or the simple things like the nights when we’d spend hours just talking, shutting out the rest of the world, completely, blissfully forgetting about obligations and appearances, about deals, mergers and contracts; they’re all a part of Victor and the amazing history, the wonderful relationship he and I share and I wouldn’t change a single thing.”

Rising, she stood by the window, relishing the feel of the warm sunlight on her face as she thought to herself with a soft, wistful smile, ‘Despite all the time we wasted fighting, all the mean, hurtful things we’ve said to each other, we’ve always found our way back to each other, no matter what fate threw at us, no matter how much we fought the love we always knew would be there, we always found our way back to each other. We’ve beaten the odds so many times, and this time is no different! I won’t let it be any different!

Victor once said we could never just be friends, there’s too much passion, too much fire between us, it would never work. He was right, he still is. I think I knew it when I suggested it, even before when it comes down to it. I didn’t want my heart broken though. So, I foolishly thought if we just stayed friends I would never have to worry about my heart being broken again. How wrong was I? My heart’s breaking more and more as I wait for something that may never happen.’ She shook away those depressing and chilling notions and told herself, ‘No! Victor is still here, he’s still alive and fighting to stay right here with me, I have to do the same and I will! If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll fight to keep him with me; I’ll fight this with everything in me and, come hell or high water, I’ll win!’ 

Feeling a little better, a little calmer and more determined, she went back to the research. “If the parietal lobes process and interpret signals received from other brain areas, could that mean damage to that part of the brain could cause the memory loss and paralysis? The signals include vision, hearing, motor skills, and memory. That doesn’t sound likely since it says the lobes provide objects with meaning and environments with depth. Damage to the parietal lobe disrupts shape, size and colour identification, as well as disrupting distance perception. The parietal lobe functions include touch, shape, colour identification, spatial perception and visual perception. Complications from parietal lobe injury include inability to identify objects, inability to associate words with meaning, inability to tell left from right and loss of spatial perception. The parietal lobe is concerned with perceiving stimuli connected to touch, pressure, temperature and pain.” As she read, she wondered just what else the tests would show. “How many other problems, how much other damage might show up? How much damage is there? How much damage haven’t we seen?” Shaking her head to try and rid herself of the disturbing questions running through it, Nikki said to herself, “I can’t focus on that now, I have to do what I can to find out what’s wrong with Victor. I need to get through this research! Victor’s life depends on it! He’s counting on me and I’m not going to let him down, not now, not ever! He’s always been able to count on me and that’s not about to change, not now. I’m the only one he trusts, the only one he knows he can count on; it’s up to me to see us through this. The question is how; how do I get us through this when the doctors won’t tell us anything? How do I do it when they won’t give us any answers?”Nikki asked herself furious and frustrated.

Turning to the only place she could, she began reading again. “Parietal lobe functions include goal directed voluntary movements, manipulation of objects, integration of different senses allowing for comprehension of a single concept. Observed problems caused by parietal lobe damage include inability to attend to more than one thing at a time (anomia), inability to find the words for writing (agraphia), difficulty with reading (alexia), challenges with drawing objects, challenges telling left from right, and challenges with doing mathematics (dyscalculia). Other challenges include lack of awareness of certain body parts and/or surrounding space (apraxia) leading to challenges in self-care, an inability to focus visual attention and challenges with eye and hand coordination.” 

When the phone at Victor’s bedside rang once again, Nikki muttered frustrated, “What is this, grand central station?”
The same frustration ringing in her voice, Nikki snapped, “Hello.”
“How’s Victor?”
‘No, it couldn’t be. She wouldn’t be arrogant enough; she wouldn’t be stupid enough to call here asking about Victor!’ Nikki thought to herself as a battle light most would’ve run from the sight of shone in her eyes. “What do you care? You made a fool of him more than once!”
“Damn it, Nikki, how is he, I want to know! I have a right to know!”
“Get real, Laurie. You want to get as much information out of me as possible so you can further your own sick, twisted and self-serving agenda. Do yourself a favour and crawl back under whatever rock you came out fromunder and leave me and my husband alone! He doesn’t need you; he doesn’t need a damn thing from you. Most of all, he doesn’t want you. He has everything he needs, everything he wants-he has me!”
“I see you’re as pleasant as ever.”Laurie replied bitterly, her hatred and disdain evident.
“I don’t have time for this, or you, so I decided to cut to the chase. I’ve got to go now, Victor’s waking up. Have a nice life, Laurie.” Without another word, Nikki hung up leaving the taunting sound of the dial tone ringing in Laurie’s ear. 
“That insufferable little…she’ll pay for that! She’ll pay dearly!” 

To keep her mind off of that unpleasant encounter, Nikki returned once again “Could the damage be to the frontal lobe and that’s why he can’t move his legs or talk? It says that part of the brain serves three functions: motor activity and integration of muscle activity, speech and thought process.” As frustrated as she was getting, Nikki kept reading, kept forging on knowing that was the only way she’d really be able to help Victor. “The frontal lobe is responsible for several different functions involving conscious thought, voluntary movement, and personality. It also facilitates word choice, organization, and behaviour. Frontal lobe damage has the ability to drastically change personality and behaviour, and impair judgement, attention span and organization. Frontal lobe functions include motivation, judgment, behavioural choices, planning, personality, organization, reasoning, planning, parts of speech, movement, emotions and problem-solving. So, there’s a possibility that damage to the frontal lobe(s) caused the speech problems and paralysis.”After considering this for a moment, Nikki read on. “Impairments caused by head injury include expressive difficulties-language usage and word finding (Broca’s Aphasia), loss of simple movement of various body parts (paralysis). Apparently movement happens in a part of the brain called the motor cortex, wherever that is.” Although she hadn’t gotten any answers so far, Nikki trudged on determined to do whatever it took to help her husband. “If the doctors won’t help Victor, it’s up to me. It’s up to me to find the answers he needs and bring him home, where he belongs.” 

Nikki smiled once again as she thought of the day they learned she was pregnant. “I thought I’d have to help the doctor pick him up off the floor!” Nikki exclaimed giggling. “He was so impatient when we first got there; I thought I’d have to tie him down to stop him from pacing. Then, the look in his eyes when we found out we were having twins…” She smiled as she stroked her rounded belly and felt her daughter’s soft kick. “…I’ll never forget the way his eyes lit up. I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything about soccer yet.”She ended with a cheeky smile, her eyes sparkling. 

“One thing’s for sure. Victor certainly is full of surprises. I never thought he’d tell anybody about the twins, anyone but family. And here he is talking to Neil about how much he’s looking forward to it” A soft, almost contented smile spread slowly across her lips as she considered it.

“Then there are all those wallpaper samples I never got to show Victor…” Almost as quickly as it had come, she quickly banished the thought that she’d never get to show them to him. “I will get to show him those things and so much more, I will. I just have to have faith in him; I have to have faith in us. As long as he has something to fight for, he will; I have to give him that, I have to give him something to fight for.” Smiling foolishly, she thought to herself ‘He probably won’t even like any of the ones I picked out; in fact he’ll probably hate them and want to pick out all new ones.”

As harsh reality hit once again, Nikki told herself, “Not being able to help himself, not being able to be strong for us; for me; is killing him, so I have to be the one to be strong; strong enough for both of us. I have to be the one to get us through this. Maybe nobody can understand that, but it’s true. It’s up to me to make sure Victor wins this fight and he will, if it’s the last thing I do, I’ll make sure we win this!”
Trying to rid her mind of the macabre notions she was helpless to escape, she began reading once again. “It says that language comprehension is found in Wernicke’s area and speech ability is in Broca’s area. Damage to Broca’s area results in speech impairment, but not damage to language comprehension; while damage in Wernicke’s area weakens or damages ability to understand written and spoken words but not speech. Wait a minute, when Victor came out of the coma, it was obvious he was trying to say something, it was obvious he knew exactly what he wanted to say, he just couldn’t get the words out. So the speech problems must be coming from Broca’s area-wherever that is, especially since he can definitely understand me when I talk to him. He hated all the names I picked out and tried to tell me so. Especially when it came to Cora, I’ve never seen him so upset, why would he hate the idea of naming our daughter after his mother? It doesn’t make any sense.” Feeling a small sense of accomplishment at possibly having found the cause of one of the after affects of Victor’s stroke, Nikki found renewed strength to read on. 

“Since the hippocampus is part of the limbic system and plays a part in memory and navigation, could that have been damaged, causing the memory loss?” Nikki tried her best to ignore the frustration building within her as she read on. “Paralysis or problems controlling movement (motor control)-paralysis is one of the most common disabilities resulting from stroke.-No surprise there.-The paralysis is usually on the side of the body opposite the side of the brain damaged by stroke, and may affect the face, an arm, a leg, or the entire side of the body. This one-sided paralysis is called hemiplegia (one-sided weakness is hemipharesis).-Whatever that means!-Stroke patients with hemiperesis or hemiplegia can have challenges with everyday activities like walking or grasping objects. Some stroke survivors have swallowing challenges, referred to as dysphagia, because of damage to part of the brain controlling muscles for swallowing. Damage to a lower portion of the brain, the cerebellum may affect the body’s ability to coordinate movement, a disability called ataxia, leading to challenges with body posture, walking and balance.-I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Victor has any swallowing problems. That’s something to be grateful for; I guess. Still, I should ask Dr. Corwell just to be sure.”
“Challenges using or understanding language (aphasia)-No less than one quarter of all stroke survivors experience language impairments, involving the ability to speak, write and understand spoken and written language. A stroke-induced injury to any of the brain’s language-control centers can harshly impair verbal communication. Damage to a language centre located on the dominant side of the brain, referred to as Broca’s area, causes expressive aphasia. Individuals with this kind of aphasia have challenges expressing their thoughts through words or writing. They lose the ability to speak the words they’re thinking and to put words together in coherent, grammatically correct sentences. On the contrary, damage to a language center located in a rear part of the brain, referred to as Wernicke’s area, results in receptive aphasia. Individuals with this condition have challenges comprehending spoken or written language and frequently have incoherent speech.” “God, no wonder Victor’s as frustrated as he is, anyone would be in his position.” 

Chapter Eleven 
“Despite being able to form grammatically correct sentences, their utterances often have no meaning. The most severe type of aphasia, global aphasia, is caused by extensive damage to several areas involved in language function. Individuals with global aphasia lose almost all their language abilities; they can neither understand language nor use it to convey thought. A less severe kind of aphasia, referred to as anomic or amnesic aphasia happens when there’s only a negligible amount of damage; its effects are often very subtle. Individuals with anomic aphasia may just forget interrelated groups of words, like the names of people or specific types of objects.”
“Problems with thinking and memory-Stroke can cause damage to parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and awareness.-No big surprises there.-Stroke survivors can have significantly shortened attention spans or can experience deficits in short-term memory.-Again, no big surprise.-People may also lose their ability to make plans, understand meaning, learn new tasks or do other complicated mental activities. …Stroke survivors who develop apraxia lose their ability to plan the steps involved in a complicated task and to carry the steps out in the correct sequence. Stroke survivors with apraxia can also have problems following a set of instructions. Apraxia seems to be caused by a disruption of the subtle connections existing between thought and action.”

“Mom” Nicholas said softly as he walked quietly into his father’s hospital room. “Shouldn’t you be resting?”
“Nicholas, I’m fine.” Nikki lied easily.
“Are they?”He asked quietly yet firmly.
“Yes, Nicholas, your brother and sister are just fine. I made sure to eat something and I’ve been getting plenty to drink so they’re being well taken care of; trust me.” Nikki told him firmly.
“It’s not a matter of not trusting you; you know I do, you know I trust you.”He tried to reassure and explain.
“Then why are you pushing this?”She asked almost angrily.
“Because, I don’t want to see anything happen to you, I don’t want to go home and get a call that you’re in here for exhaustion or malnutrition or because there’s something wrong with one of the twins! That’s why! That’s why I’m pushing this! That’s why I won’t let this go! So excuse me if I’m overstepping!” Fuming, trying his best to hide the tears that fell from his eyes as more glistened in them, Nick stormed out. Blinded by rage, he stormed down the hall and had almost made it to the elevator.
“Nicholas!” Nikki called after him after having thrown open the door. “Nicholas, wait!”
Fury blazing in his eyes, Nicholas slowly turned around but said nothing.
“Come back inside.” She whispered softly.
“Why bother, it’s obvious you don’t want me around.”Nick spat out, fury pumping off him in waves.
“Please.”Although she hadn’t touched him, without knowing it she’d touched his heart.
Still trying to hide the rage bubbling inside him, trying to keep the stranglehold on his tears and his temper, one that was held by a quickly fraying thread, Nicholas said nothing as he faced his mother and stormed back into the room.
Hesitantly, Nikki entered the room and took a quick look around. Thankful that Victor had slept through the whole thing; she let out a sigh of relief and turned to Nicholas. “Listen, I’m sorry I lost my temper with you, your father is the one we need to be focusing on right now. He’s the one we need to be concentrating on.”
“I know that, and I am worried about him. But I’m worried about you too. All the stress can’t be good for the twins, not to mention what it’s doing to you. And don’t try to deny it, don’t give me some line about how you’re fine, how you’re handling it! How do you think Dad would feel if he woke up only to find out that you were in here for exhaustion or dehydration or whatever else? How do you think he’d feel if he woke up and found out, God forbid, that something happened to you or the twins? Mom he’d be devastated!”
“No! Damn it, Mom, I’m sick and tired of everyone trying to shut me up! Listen to me! You’re running yourself ragged! Between worrying about what’s been going on with Vicki, worrying about what’s been going on with the twins and now worrying about what’s going on with Dad, what do you expect? What do you expect from me? What do you want me to do sit here and play solitaire?!” 
Tears rising in her own eyes as others fell, Nikki asked him emotionally, a clear but barely discernable note of defeat creeping into her voice, “What if it were Sharon?”
“What?”Nick asked in disbelief and confusion.
“What if it were Sharon in the hospital, fighting for her life with the doctors ready to give up on her? Can you honestly stand there and tell me you’d stand back and let fate take the lead? That you’d let whatever was going to happen just happen?”
“No, of course not, but-”
“Then we’re even. I’ll be damned if I’m just going to sit back and watch your father slip away! I did that once and I lost him, I thought, for good. If I do it again, if I step back, throw my hands up and surrender to this, I really will lose your father for good! And your brother and sisters will lose him for good too! Did you think about that? Has that even crossed your mind?”
“Yes, of course it has!” Nick told her, trying to hide the hurt and quell the searing anger threatening to overtake him.
“Then how can you ask me to do anything but what I’m doing?”
“Because, as much as it would destroy, as much as it would devastate this family to lose Dad, it would tear this family apart just as much, it would be just as devastating to lose you! Why can’t you see that?! How can you not see that?!”He asked, his frustration getting the better of him.
As her heart broke at seeing her son in such pain, such anguish, Nikki let her own terrified, anguished tears fall as she whispered, “Oh baby,” and pulled him into a strong embrace, cradling him close and tight as they let their tears run free and tried to offer each other what little comfort they could. 

As they pulled apart, Nikki dried her tears and asked, “What did you mean earlier, when you talked about everyone trying to shut you up? What happened?” 
“It’s nothing, forget it.”He told her, looking down at the ground as he thought to himself, ‘She doesn’t need anything else to worry about.’
“Nicholas.” Nikki’s voice held a note of warning.
With a put-upon sigh as he ran his fingers through his hair wearily, he replied,“I walked into the waiting room earlier, Vicki and I got into it again. I don’t know why, but it seems that’s all we do these days.”
“What happened?”
“I don’t know, she seemed really jumpy and I called her on it. She took my head off and told me to leave her alone.”
“What could be going on with her? Something isn’t right!”
“It’s Vicki, who knows?”
“Mom, she’s been taking everyone’s head off for no apparent reason for months now. She’s been running hot and cold with everybody, even Dad. So, who knows what set her off this time!”

Almost as an afterthought, Nick hesitantly said, “There is one thing though.”
“What?” Nikki asked intrigued
“She tried to get me not to say anything about it to you. She tried to get me to promise not to say anything to you about whatever that was.”
“Why would she do that? She must have known you weren’t going to promise her anything.”
“Like I said, it’s Vicki, so who knows.” With a tired sigh as he ran his fingers through his hair, Nick offered, “She probably did it ‘cause she’s worried about you. Mom, she’s worried sick. Do you really blame her? She probably just wants to spare you any more worry, any more stress.”
“When is everyone going to get it? I don’t need to be spared anything, I don’t need to be shielded or protected from anything! What I need is to know, to understand what’s going on with my family! What I need is to know what’s going on with your father and your sister before it’s too late; for both of them!”
“Mom, all you can do is the best you can.” He told her softly, tryi8ng to reason with her.
“I know, and that’s exactly what I’m doing!”
“Okay, I know when to admit defeat!”
“Smart boy.” She told him with a smile as she touched his cheek.
“No, just don’t have the energy or the inclination to fight you, not right now anyway.”
“Can you do me a favour?”
“Name it.” Nick replied unsuspectingly.
“Go home; spend some time with Sharon and the children. And when you come back, bring my laptop, my printer, along with some notebooks and pens or pencils, anything that writes.”
“Nicholas.” Nikki’s voice was firm and held a note of warning that she did not want to be questioned.
“Mom, what do you need with all that stuff? Aunt Casey gave you binders worth of research, what do you want with your laptop? Don’t you have enough on your plate already?”
“Nicholas, just go and bring back what I asked!” Seeing the anger return to her son’s eyes, to his face, she softened, “Please” she whispered as she touched his cheek tenderly.
“Fine; on one condition,”Nick reluctantly gave in.
“What’s that?” Nikki asked cautiously.
“You’ll remember what I said.”
“I promise.” She told him with what she hoped was a reassuring smile.
“Fine, see you in a couple of hours. Get some rest.”He told her firmly, hoping that on some level she’d listen. 
“I will if you will” Nikki told him with a small smile.
Silently, Nick returned his mom’s smile before turning to face his father and lingering at the foot of his bed to study him for a few moments before he walked out.

Chapter Twelve 
Sitting back on the couch and trying to catch her breath, Nikki hadn’t noticed Victor had woken up. “When did you wake up? How much of that did you hear?”Nikki wondered aloud, then shook her head, dismissing the foolish question. “Never mind.”
Saying nothing, Victor motioned for her to sit beside him once again.
As she did, he studied her intently and slowly, tenderly traced the tear stains and dark circles on Nikki’s cheeks, under her eyes, as his gaze never left hers.
Offering a tremulous smile as tears continued to fall, Nikki told him in a small, weary voice, “So I’ve looked better, so what? I’m pregnant remember?”
Drying her tears as he fought back his own, Victor tried to sit up, tried to sit up so he could wrap his arms around her and give her the comfort he knew she so desperately needed, but his body wouldn’t let him. Frustrated and furious at his weakness, Victor silently cursed. ‘Damn it! What good am I to her if I can’t even comfort her when she needs it most?! What good am I ?’
Well aware of her husband’s inner turmoil, his anguish at being powerless to help her, Nikki silently, gently laid her head on his shoulder and let her own anguished tears flow freely.
Smiling bitter sweetly, Victor turned to face her and kissed the top of her head tenderly as he cupped her cheek in his hand, caressing it lovingly with his thumb and rested his head against hers before falling asleep.
As she drifted off to sleep, Nikki said a prayer that despite all the turmoil in their lives her family would weather whatever fate had in store for them and remain whole.

Having finished her shift at Memorial, Casey walked into Victor’s hospital room intending to check on him and Nikki. “Nikki, I’m done for the day. I thought I’d come and see-” she broke off at the sight of them asleep, their heads resting against one other’s. “I should know by now, you’re in good hands, little sister, you’re in good hands.” She whispered before kissing them both on the cheek and covering Nikki with a blanket. Thinking better of leaving without a word, Casey left a note before heading home for the night. Stopping at the door, she smiled softly. “Some things never change.”She whispered half to herself before heading home.

The next day, with soft, warm sunlight shining on her face, Nikki awoke and groggily looked around. In the corner were the things she’d asked Nicholas to get for her and a note. Since Victor had shifted away from her during the night, she didn’t need to worry about waking him up as she walked over to where Nicholas had left his mother’s things and read the note he’d left.
Dear Mom, 
It took me awhile to find what you wanted, you’re usually more organized. Anyway, I did eventually find it. I still don’t understand why you want all that stuff, but I figure you’ll tell me if and when I need to know. But remember, you made Aunt Casey and us a promise; you promised you’d take care of yourself. I’m holding you to that, all of us are, so you’d better keep your promise!

I love you, 
“He’ll pay for that wisecrack about me being unorganized! I’ll get him back when he least expects it!” Nikki murmured to herself. “Hey, your brother started it!” she reminded her son after being caught off guard by the strong kick he’d given her. 

Satisfied he’d listened to her and had calmed down, Nikki returned to her research. “Possible effects of stroke on the left side of the brain include trouble reading, talking, thinking or doing math.-I hadn’t considered it before, but what does the stroke mean for him and his role in Newman Enterprises? That company is his life’s work, he takes so much pride in it and being the president and CEO; God only knows what it would do to him if he couldn’t work anymore.”Nikki whispered to herself as she watched him sleep.” “A stroke survivor’s behaviour can become slower and more cautious than normal. He or she may have difficulty learning or remembering new information.-The more I read, the more I wonder about his chances of going back to work.-Stroke survivors may require repeated instructions and feedback.-That would drive Victor crazy, he’d feel like a child!-They may have difficulty dealing with general concepts.”

“Why can’t I concentrate on this? It’s important, I know how important it is, so why can’t I concentrate on it? Damn it!” Nikki swore pungently as she slammed the binder shut and began to pace the small hospital room. “I should be able to focus on this, I’ve been able to so far, so what’s the problem? Why can’t I do this?” “You need your rest.” She heard Casey’s voice inside her head.

After a few minutes of pacing, she spotted the small box filled with notebooks, pens and pencils on the table beside her laptop and printer. With a sigh, Nikki walked over to it and peered in. “Here goes nothing.” She murmured as she took out a notebook and pen and began to write. Sitting here in this hospital room day after day, watching Victor slip away, I can’t help but think this isn’t him. This isn’t my husband. The longer we wait, the worse it gets. He’s slipping away more and more every hour, every minute, he’s slipping away and I can’t stop it! There’s nothing I can do to stop it. Why is this happening? Why now? Why now when we finally have everything we’ve ever wanted, everything we’ve waited so long for? What did we do to deserve this? Why is it happening when all we want, all we’ve ever wanted is just to be together? And why do I still feel so damn helpless? Why can’t I get past this? Victor needs me to be strong. He needs me to stay strong, so why can’t I do that? Why can’t I do it? This should be simple, so why do I feel like I’m in a maze with no way out? Why do I feel like I’m all alone in this maze and I’ll never get out? With every moment that slips past I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to lose him, no matter what I’m going to lose him. Nobody seems to understand that, I don’t know why, but nobody seems to understand. I’m not trying to be pessimistic. I’m really not, I just can’t help it. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m losing my husband. It’s not what I want. It’s the last thing I want but I can’t shake this terrible feeling that I’m losing my husband. I’m losing the only man I’ve ever loved, losing the love of my life. Her hands began to tremble and her vision was blurred by tears, but she forged ahead. Victor’s always been the one constant in my life. He’s always been there for me, always been there whenever I needed him. So why do I want to run? Why do I want to run away like some coward and never come back? Why am I being so damn selfish? I should be thinking of him now, instead I can’t help but think of how much this is killing me. It’s killing me to sit here watching the man I love, the only man I’ve ever really loved slip away while I ‘m just supposed to sit here like a good little woman and bear it! Damn it, this isn’t fair! It’s not fair to either of us! It’s not fair to him or me; it’s not fair to our family, to our children! 

He’s always been able to see the best in me, even when it was almost impossible to see because it was buried. Even when I didn’t think there was anything there, Victor saw something good in me and he fought for it, he fought for me even when he didn’t have to. Even when I thought there wasn’t anything there, anything worth fighting for, he fought for it, for me, for us. So, why can’t I do that now? Why can’t I find something to help him, some way to save him? Why? 


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