The doctor led AJ and Denise back to the room where they had put Alissa. AJ was shocked at the sight of Alissa and Denise had to choke back tears. She looked so small in the bed. There were machines everywhere and she had tubes running all over her body. They had to put her on a respirator because she was unable to breathe for herself at the moment.
AJ stared at the heart monitor as he pulled a chair over to the bed. There was a heartbeat but it was so faint that it was barely registering. He sat down and covered her hand with his.
“Can she hear me?” he asked the doctor quietly.
“To be honest, we don’t know. Some people believe that it works and some don’t. It’s really what you believe in Mr. McLean. I believe that it can’t do any harm.”
AJ nodded. The doctor left and he asked his mother to give him some time with Alissa.
“Alright sweetheart. I’ll go get some coffee for us.” She left, pulling the door shut behind her.
The tears fell from AJ’s eyes. He had been trying to keep it together for everyone and he just couldn’t take it anymore. He lay his head down on her hand and continued sobbing. It took a little while for the sobs to subside enough for him to even think straight. He pulled the chair closer to the bed and he squeezed her hand tightly.
“I don’t know whether you can hear me or not Liss, but I need you to come back to me. I can’t do this on my own. I’ve lost you too many times already and I can’t bear for this to be the last time.”
He kissed her hand and started praying.
“God, I’ve messed up a lot but I have turned my life around. I found a woman I love more than anything and we have a son now. I will give whatever it takes to keep her here with me. Please help her and help me. She needs to come back. I won’t have a life without her.”
He started sobbing again and after a while, he fell asleep from all the exhaustion. Denise found him there when she came back and her heart broke again. She had a son and a grandson that desperately needed the woman lying in the bed. Denise sat down in the chair and started her own prayer.
AJ spent the next week at the hospital going back and forth between the nursery and Alissa’s room. The doctor agreed to let the baby stay for another few days to be around his parents but told AJ that the baby would need to head home soon.
Everyone took turns staying with Alissa while he visited his son and they had finally gotten him to leave to shower and sleep at his house. Denise promised to stay with the baby and Leigh told him that she wouldn’t leave Alissa’s side. Nick went with him so that he could drive J back when he was done.
Leighanne came by the hospital to check on Alissa and the baby and found Denise in the nursery. She hugged the older woman and asked if it would be ok to see the baby.
“Of course.” Denise said. She placed the baby in Leighanne’s arms. “Meet little James Alexander McLean.”
Leighanne smiled. She remembered how Alissa wanted him to be Alexander James Jr., but after enough prodding from AJ, had finally agreed to switch the names.
“He has her eyes and definitely has AJ’s smile.”
Denise smiled. “He just as stubborn and feisty.” She paused for a minute. “He really is the best of both of them.”
Tears formed in the corner of Leighanne’s eyes. “I’m sorry Denise. I know how hard this has been on everyone especially J.”
Denise nodded. “He isn’t the same without her. He’s trying to hold it together for James but even the baby can’t bring back the man he used to be. It’s like he’s broken inside. I honestly don’t know how much longer he can take it.”
AJ tried to get some sleep back at his mother’s house but it just wasn’t going to happen. There was no way he was going to sleep in his room and the couch wasn’t very comfortable. He decided to call Brooke again to give her an update. She had wanted to come back home but there was nothing she could do and Lucas was so busy with his mother that Anne needed her constant attention.
“Is there any change AJ?” Brooke asked sadly.
“None. She hasn’t even stirred.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come back?”
“No Brooke. There’s nothing you can do here.”
“AJ, I know we’ve had our differences but I will do whatever I can for you both. She’s my cousin and she loves you. I want to be there for you too.”
“Thank you Brooke but Anne needs you and so does Lucas. I promise to call you as soon as I know anything else.”
They said their goodbyes and AJ hung up the phone. Nick had just come back from getting them something to eat and saw the phone in J’s hand.
“Did the hospital call? Is everything ok?” Nick said almost spilling the food.
AJ shook his head no. “I called Brooke to let her know there was no change.”
He sat down at the table and just stared at the phone.
Nick sat down across from him and tried to get him to eat something. AJ refused and just sat there in silence. Nick knew all he really wanted was for the phone to ring and it to be Alissa’s voice at the other end of the line.