The very next morning, Zack opened his eyes and saw Stephanie’s mother standing over him as he lay in the bed with her daughter still holding her. Her mother looked down upon her lifeless still daughter with a tear in her eye. Stephanie’s face was black and blue from the bruising she sustained in the accident. Her father sat on the other side of the bed just staring at his daughter’s lifeless body.
Her mother asked if there had been any issues during the night and Zack had replied, “there was no change at all”. She grabbed her daughter’s hand and told her to come back to us. Zack leaned down next to Stephanie’s head and whispered to her how much he loved her and wanted her to come back. After speaking to her, Zack felt the slightest squeeze from her hand and quickly looked at her face before saying anything to her parents. She still laid there lifeless and still but she did in fact lightly squeeze his hand letting him know she was still there with them. Zack looked up to her mother and informed her that Stephanie did in fact lightly squeeze his hand. At that moment, there seemed to be hope that Stephanie would return it was just a matter of time and healing.
They all sat around her talking to her now knowing that she was there listening. Her mother teary-eyed but smiling with hope that she will soon be talking to her daughter again. Her father was hopeful as he sat there holding his daughter’s other hand and talking to her. Zack felt warmth in his heart for Stephanie and thinking about the good times and conversations that they shared. From that moment he knew what he had to do. He knew he had to take care of her and love her.
The day went on, but no response from Stephanie of her waking up. Everyone stayed hopeful and were there to comfort her. Stephanie’s parents told Zack to go take a break and get something to eat while they sat with her. He agreed, but before leaving her side he leaned down and kissed her chapped and dry lips. Stephanie’s mother noticed that her lips were dry too so she pulled out some moisturizer and applied it to her daughter’s lips. Zack then left the hospital room and headed for the cafeteria to get a bite to eat.
While down in the cafeteria, Zack sat eating while thinking of nothing but Stephanie. He had a sense of responsibility for her and her well-being. He felt nothing but love for her and that he was falling in love with her. Stephanie brought something to Zack that he had never felt and that was that he needed her. She made him feel alive and worth something. After eating and before leaving his table, Zack made a promise to himself that when Stephanie leaves the hospital, he would take care of her for the rest of her life.
Once he finished his drink, Zack was headed back up to Stephanie’s room where he left her parents by her side. He walked in and found her parents excited because Stephanie had squeezed her mother’s hand. Zack’s face lit up and hurried to her side kissing her lips once more. He then pulled up a chair and sat next to her mother staring at her face telling her to wake up. There was no response. Again, Zack told her to wake up for him. This time, everyone saw eye movement under her closed eyelids. Stephanie was showing signs that she was coming back to them. Everyone just there waiting and watching.
About an hour later, while Zack and her parents were talking, Stephanie began moving her fingers as if they were stiff. Zack noticed it right away and stood up grabbing her hand. Her parents stood up next to her bedside and watched with suspense. Zack felt her hand grab his and hold it as she tried to open her eyes. Her face was still a little swollen which made it somewhat difficult for her to open them. Zack began talking to her to let her know he was there with her. A few minutes later, Stephanie began opening her eyes and staring at Zack until she could get her bearings. Her mother smiled as she too began talking to Stephanie. Stephanie looked over at her mother and smiled. Her father began talking to her as she looked over at him.
While her parents stood there talking to their daughter, Zack ran out into the hall calling for a doctor. One came from down the hall at the nurse’s station and walked into the room with Zack. The doctor saw that Stephanie, in fact, had her eyes open but could not speak yet. The doctor examined her and informed her parents that he wanted to run a few scans to make sure everything was alright. They agreed and soon Stephanie was rushed off to get an MRI and brain scan done. Everyone sat in her room waiting and expressing how happy and relieved they were.
About forty-five minutes later, Stephanie was being brought back into the room to her awaiting family. She was fully awake and alert, just not speaking. A few minutes later, the doctor came into the room and was to inform the family of Stephanie’s results. The doctor stated that while Stephanie was alert and awake she did, in fact, sustain some brain damage. She is awake, can hear, see, and understand, but due to her injuries, she is not able to form words or speak.
After hearing this, her parents asked the doctor if she will ever be able to speak? The doctor did state that “no, she will never speak again”. Not only was Stephanie paralyzed from the chest down, she would never be able to speak or form words or sentences again. That was a shock to everyone but they did remind each other how she manage to still be alive and they took thanks for that. Their daughter was injured and sustained brain damage but she was alive and that made them happy.
Stephanie looked over at Zack and frowned with a sad face because she would never be able to speak to him or take walks with him and this hurt Zacks heart but he still felt drawn to her. He grabbed her hand and leaned down to kiss her. After his lips parted from hers and he was standing back up, Stephanie gave him a big smile and her face lit up staring at him. Her father leaned down afterward and placed a kiss on his daughter’s forehead telling her not to worry they will manage. She gave her father a great big smile and grabbed his hand squeezing it. After giving them the news, the doctor informed them that they want Stephanie to remain in the hospital for a few more days for observation and to make preparations for her release. Stephanie’s parents thanked the doctor before he left the room and then sat with their daughter talking to her and catching her up on what has been happening.
Her mother grabbed Stephanie’s hand and began telling her about Ruby. Stephanie got really upset and began to cry. Her parents with Zack tried to comfort her through her grief. Even though Stephanie could not speak you could see it in her face how distraught and saddened she was. It was difficult to issue her such bad news especially with what is going on with her. She was strong and Zack knew this but he comforted her along with her parents. It would definitely be a difficult journey for Stephanie but Zack wanted to be there with her for every moment of it. Every step she took, he would be there holding her hand.
It would be a few days before they released Stephanie to her parents, so they took shifts so she wouldn’t be left alone. Zack insisted on taking the night shift to spend time with her since everyone had jobs. He could sleep there in the hospital room with Stephanie and work his job during the day and her parents would be able to work and then visit with her during the evenings. Her mother took time off from work to spend the days with her where they could do girl things and chat, even though it would be mostly a one-sided conversation. Everything was set and planned out and everyone knew what their role was in helping Stephanie regain her life back.
The next morning, when Stephanie’s mother came to spend the day with her, a nurse noticed how it was straining for her mother to talk to Stephanie without a definite response. She felt bad for them and so she went down the hall and came back with a black chalkboard about two feet by two feet with some chalk. She handed it to Stephanie and told her to use it to talk to her mother. Stephanie’s mother was so pleased by the nice gesture and thanked the nurse right away. The nurse replied, “it was no problem”.
After the nurse left the room, Stephanie began writing words and sentences to her mother so they were able to keep a line of communication open. Stephanie was still sore and banged up from the accident but she was recovering very well. She would use the chalkboard to talk to everyone who came into the room. Her mother was very pleased with her daughter’s progress and couldn’t wait to take her home.
That evening, her father came in with dinner for the three of them and sat with his daughter feeding her because she still found it hard to move her arms due to the paralysis. He somewhat enjoyed feeding his daughter and talking to her while they ate. He told her how his day went and the things he did just to give her something to know. The doctor said she sustained enough brain damage that sometimes her thoughts, words, or memory might be affected. They just had to be patient with her and give her time to heal and then they will make a definite prognosis on her damage.
After sitting and eating with Stephanie, her parents sat talking with her about the accident. She tried to remember as much as she could but not a whole lot made sense to her because of the damage she sustained. It was agitating her because she was trying so hard to remember things almost to the point of becoming frustrated. Stephanie’s parents could see her frustration and tried to change the subject until she looked up and there was Zack standing in the doorway with roses.
Stephanie’s face lit up as she smiled at him. He smiled back at her and walked over handing her the roses and leaning down to kiss her lips. Her parents were happy to see how happy Stephanie was with Zack. They could tell deep down that Zack cared deeply for her and that brought them great joy and an easiness over them. They sat back and watched how Zack was with her and how happy he made her.
They went ahead and said their goodbyes for the evening and left Stephanie in Zacks care for the night. He climbed into the bed with her and wrapped his arm around her neck carefully. Her neck would be broken until it heals in another five weeks but she has a cervical collar on to help support her neck. He sat there with her watching television and giving the nurses a hard time when they came in to give Stephanie medication. Stephanie would just lay against him so secure and safe until she fell asleep from the medication.
Every night he would fall asleep with her in his arms until the next morning when waking to see her mother taking over. Stephanie’s mother and Zack started to bond a little more every day because of the way he makes her daughter feel. After helping Stephanie eat her breakfast, Zack kissed her before heading out the door to go to work. Every time he would leave he would always say something to make her smile before walking out the door and leaving her in her mother’s hands.
That evening when Zack came in to take over his shift with Stephanie, he noticed the doctor standing in front of him with his back to him. When the doctor turned around, there was Stephanie sitting in a wheelchair made for someone who was quadriplegic. They had brought in this wheelchair for Stephanie to use when she goes home tomorrow. Zack walked up to Stephanie, squatted down in front of her, and leaned in kissing her and saying hello. Stephanie would just smile at him. Zack asked if she was alright and she acknowledged him by smiling. Her parents were there happy for Stephanie to be going home tomorrow.
The doctor wanted to make sure she would be well equipped to use the chair and to give her all her instructions. He finally left the room and things got back to normal with the visiting. Everyone watched as Stephanie moved about the room in her new chair and were very pleased with the results. Stephanie was now mobile and her only issue would be that of getting in and out of the chair. Someone would have to help her, even to go to the bathroom. Things had to scheduled and planned out for her arrival home and continuing for the rest of her life.
Everyone sat around and discussed how they were going to approach this matter and Stephanie banged on her chalkboard to get someone’s attention. When they looked over at her, she had the question posted on her chalkboard asking about their third date. Zack had almost forgotten to tell her. He sat down next to her and told her that they had their third date right there in the hospital room. He explained everything they did and what they talked about and she just smiled. After talking for a while longer her parents went ahead and headed for home kissing Stephanie’s forehead before leaving the room.
That night, Zack and Stephanie stayed up quite late talking and watching television together before medication time and Stephanie falling asleep. Her bruises were diminishing and a lot of the swelling has gone down, so she was feeling pretty good at that point. She lay asleep in Zack’s arms waiting for tomorrow to come. Zack was so excited for her homecoming that his anxiety kept him awake all night.
The very next morning while Zack was helping Stephanie eat, her parents arrived all happy and chipper knowing that their daughter was going home today. Stephanie just smiled at them and her face lit up. Once she was done eating, her parents helped her into her clothes that she would wear home. Zack had never seen Stephanie undressed so he excused himself politely out of the room until they were done. Everything was then set up and ready for her discharge. Stephanie was helped into her chair and her things were packed up and the nurse came in to escort them to the front door downstairs.
Once they got outside, Stephanie noticed the platform on the back of her parent’s car. She seemed a little hesitant at first, but then Zack just reminded her that it’s for her chair only. She smiled and they walked up to the car. Zack helped her father put Stephanie inside the car before taking the wheelchair around to the back of the car. They got everything taken care of and Zack followed them home to help get Stephanie out of the car.
Zack was so patient and caring with Stephanie even in her condition. Her mother took notice of how protective he was of Stephanie. She admired his spirit and made sure that he knew this. Stephanie’s parents asked Zack if he would like to stay a few days with Stephanie to help her adjust to things? His reply was, “it would be an honor”. So Stephanie’s parents brought the roll-away bed into Stephanie’s room for Zack to sleep on. He was busy helping Stephanie get situated and found the new chalkboard her parents bought for her. You could just see the look of serenity on Stephanie’s face now that she was home. Her parents were informed that she would be attending physical therapy three times a week to keep her muscles from atrophy. She needed to be on a special diet for a while due to her body needing to heal some more.
Those first few days were awkward for Stephanie and Zack, with all her medications, feedings, bathing, and not to mention changing her clothes. Stephanie’s mother did the whole taking a bath with Stephanie while Zack helped out with feedings and simple things. One day, Stephanie had an accident on herself and her parents were out getting groceries since Stephanie had to be on a specific diet. He couldn’t leave her to sit there in her own mess, so he talked to her first to make sure she would be comfortable with him changing her clothes. She wrote on her chalkboard telling him that she trusts him to do the right thing and nothing naughty. He just laughed for a minute and then shook his head yes he will behave himself.
Zack stood up and leaned over picking Stephanie up and placing her on her bed. First, he undressed her slowly to not make her uncomfortable, then he reached over to the table by the bed and grabbed some baby wipes that her mother bought to clean her up with. He was very gentle with her while cleaning her up and he wasn’t making any comments about her naked body. He did tell her that she had a beautiful body as he caressed her gently. She smiled at him and as he was dressing her back in clean clothes, her parents walked in.
Zack informed them that she had an accident on herself and he couldn’t leave her like that, so he cleaned her up and put fresh clothes on her. Stephanie’s mother shrugged her shoulders smiling and telling Zack that he fails to amaze her. Her father walked in and helped Zack get Stephanie back into her chair. Once she was organized, they went into the kitchen and put away the groceries. While Stephanie wasn’t in the room, Zack asked her parents if he could talk to them?
They sat at the kitchen table and asked Zack what he wanted to talk about? First, Zack informed them that he had feelings for their daughter, so much that he couldn’t see his life without her in it. He explained that he wanted to take care of her for the rest of her life. Her father interrupted him by saying, “are you going to ask us what I think you’re going to ask?”. Zack looked her father in the eyes and said, “yes, I want to marry Stephanie”. Stephanie’s mother broke out into tears of joy but had to control herself because of what he was asking.
Stephanie’s father reminded him of her condition and that she would require around the clock care. Zack informed them that he had taken into consideration all that it entailed. He knew what he was asking and knew what it meant as far as their lives together. He wanted to make Stephanie as happy as she has made him the past few months. He wants to spend his life with her and take care of her.
Stephanie’s parents looked at each other and discussed all the options before making a decision to allow Zack to marry Stephanie. Zack wanted to keep it a secret for now but thanked them both for their blessing. He sat with them explaining how he wanted to surprise her. They all agreed on the plans and then went into the other room where Stephanie was watching television. Zack walked around in front of her and knelt down in front of her. When she looked at him with her bright eyes, he asked her if she would accompany him on a fourth date? Stephanie looked at him and then made this sad face because she couldn’t possibly go out with him in her condition. She wrote on her chalkboard telling him “no”. Zack was disappointed by her response but explained to her how they could go out on a date.
Stephanie had this puzzled look on her face as Zack described everything to her and her parents agreed with Zack. She erased her board and wrote another message to Zack telling okay. He was so happy that he leaned forward and kissed her so passionately. Her parents were excited for her and it would do her some good to get out and enjoy herself. They made plans for the two to go out and Stephanie’s dad made reservations at a nice restaurant for them. Everything was set and it was time for bed. Zack went with Stephanie to her room and he picked her up gently placing her on her bed and getting her tucked in. Her parents came in and kissed her goodnight before heading to their room. Zack got her tucked in and kissed her one last time before handing her medications to her. He helped her with the water and then sat with her until she went to sleep. He got up and walked over to the roll-away bed and laid down falling fast asleep.
The next morning, everyone woke up to a fresh feeling having had a good night sleep. Zack woke up Stephanie and got her dressed and into her chair. They went into the kitchen where her parents were and sat at the table to enjoy breakfast. While eating, they enjoyed each other’s conversation and spending time with Stephanie at home. Her mother stated that she would have to get Stephanie ready for her date this evening but had some shopping to do first. She decided that Stephanie should go shopping with her to get out of the house. Zack agreed to go to help with Stephanie plus he had some shopping of his own to do. So, they finished breakfast and headed out the door for some shopping.
When they got downtown, Zack helped get Stephanie out of the car and into her chair. Her mother went with Stephanie towards the shopping center entrance while Zack headed for the jewelry store on the next block. He walked inside and began browsing for a wedding ring for Stephanie. It took all of about.forty-five minutes to find the perfect ring. Once he found it, he paid for it and headed out the door back to the shopping center to meet up with the ladies.
He ran into them coming out of the store and helped them with their bags. He got Stephanie back into the car and secured her chair at the rear of the car and they were headed back home. Once they got home, Stephanie’s father was waiting to help with the bags as well as his daughter. Zack and her father got Stephanie back into her chair before pulling the bags out of the back seat. They went inside and her mother took her into her room to change for their date.
First, she got Stephanie into the bathroom and called for someone to help get Stephanie into the tub. Zack was too embarrassed so her father went in to help. They got her bathed and redressed, and back into her chair. Stephanie’s mother grabbed a brush and began grooming her daughter’s hair. Stephanie was enjoying the attention and was happy at how pretty her mother was making her. When they were done, Stephanie and her mother came out of the room to show off her new look.
Zack stood up and turned around to see a beautiful Stephanie sitting there with her hair done, makeup on, and the new dress her mother bought for her today. He walked over to her and knelt before her telling her she looked beautiful. She gave him a very big smile before he kissed her lips. Zack could smell the aromatic perfume she was wearing and looked over to her mother and said she smells great. Stephanie’s mother smiled and said, “thank you”.
They were all ready to go out and her parents were going with them but sitting at another table in case something goes wrong. They climbed back into the car with everyone dressed nicely and headed for the restaurant. Stephanie was enjoying the ride and being out of the hospital. Her father looked back at her and rolled her window down a little so she could feel the cool air on her face. He saw such a glow in his daughter and couldn’t wait until Zack pops the question.
They arrived at the restaurant and got Stephanie out of the car. Zack walked beside her with her arm in his. They walked into the restaurant and got to their tables. Stephanie and Zack sat at one side of the restaurant while her parents were on the other side. They had a clear view of their daughter and Zack just to keep an eye on them. After ordering their dinner, Zack began telling Stephanie how much he cares for her and loves taking care of her. Stephanie had her chalkboard and began writing a message. When she showed it to him it said, “I don’t want to be a burden to you”. Zack reassured her that she was not a burden. Their meal arrived and he was sitting close enough that he could enjoy his meal plus feed Stephanie.
They enjoyed their meal together and then Zack made the comment to Stephanie how this would be their last date together. A frown came over Stephanie’s face but Zack caught her from getting upset by getting up out of his chair and kneeling in front of her and producing a diamond ring while asking her to marry him. Stephanie couldn’t take her eyes off of the pretty ring and then began smiling. She looked over at her parents who were smiling and her dad giving her the thumbs up.
She looked at Zack and smiled, then went to her chalkboard and wrote the words, “yes”. Zack was so happy that he leaned forward and kissed Stephanie. Her parents came over and hugged their daughter and then hugged Zack and welcomed him to the family properly. Zack then slipped the pretty ring onto Stephanie’s finger and again kissed her. That was, in fact, Stephanie’s last date, they were married a few weeks later and still live to this day happily ever after.