Wil and Jakob knew where to check in at the hospital, and what area they’d find Cynthia. This was getting to be old news for them, but Wil didn’t mind. A dark question poked the back of her mind as they walked the familiar halls and she thought about this comfort in familiarity: where would they walk instead, if they were given new news?
Rob was surprised to see Wil gently crying as she and Jakob entered the small waiting area to join him. He’d given Jakob positive results. Suspicious of him not passing on this information, Rob looked at Jakob’s face accusingly. All he saw was his stepson absentmindedly staring at the nurses’ station. Clearly Jakob was not aware of Mina’s distress.
Wil caught the look, however, and messily wiped her wet facial areas on her sleeves. She sniffed loudly to help clear things up there.
“Mina,” Rob began in a lecturing tone. Then, he stopped and continued more tenderly, “How about you go blow your nose in that bathroom?” He gestured down the hall from them, at a sign reading RESTROOMS.
“When you’re done, we can talk about seeing your mom.” He gave her his best encouraging smile: a look of tired, worried love; framed by a five o’clock shadow.
After Wil humored her father’s request, she and Jakob gathered near him to hear the latest on her mother’s condition. Jakob perched on the arm of a chair and Wil sat on the floor at her father’s feet, as Rob gathered his thoughts -and desire to discuss them.
“Your mom had been coughing, as usual, this morning and felt short of breath.” Rob rubbed a cheek nervously. “She texted me, worrying about whether she could get up. I called our neighbor, Lynette, who came over and found Cynthia gasping.
“Always one to panic, Lynette rushed her here to the hospital and demanded action.” Rob smiled a bit beneath worried eyes.
Jakob rolled his eyes and Wil couldn’t help a small giggle. Although her father hardly ever described situations to her satisfaction, Wil was perfectly able to picture their paranoid neighbor yelling at hospital staff.
“The doctors were able to get her started on an antibiotic and stabilized her breathing,” Rob finished. “They think she’d just started a small cold. Now, I’m just waiting for them to say whether we can see her.”
His audience nodded understanding. Jakob’s focus slowly turned to the young medical attendants again; but Wil, of course, anxiously fidgeted at the thought of waiting.
Her father smiled to himself, and again felt the pang he had this morning -the fond recognition of similarity to another woman he loved. His resolve was weakening. He hoped Cynthia would be strong enough for a serious talk later.