Jules drove back to her house after the fellowship meal had ended. She packed fairly quickly, but felt listless and too tired to make the drive just yet. The half-empty container of jellybeans was calling to her from the kitchen pantry. She decided to fill a smaller container with them and put it in her bag.
Jules was almost out the front door when a lightbulb went off and forced her to turn back around. She ran to her grandfather's bedroom. Jules grabbed his favorite pillow and blanket and a few other familiar items. She stuffed them into a large bag before heading back towards the front door. She had already double checked to make sure the porch light was on, so she locked the front door securely behind her and hit the road for the hospital.
Although she had only made the trip three times recently, it already felt ancient and tiresome. Mile after mile flew by on the highway. Jules used the time behind the wheel to let her thoughts play; dancing back and forth between reality and her hopes of what reality would be in the future. She pondered on her mother, and what her character might be like at this point in time. She had a strong desire to meet her, but also feared being disappointed. Her eyes melted when she thought of all the nights she'd spent imagining what it would be like to have a mother who was an integral part of her life. She had had motherly women who took interest in her, but they had been mothers of her friends. Never her mother exclusively. Jules shook her shoulders impatiently. "Lord, please give me wisdom and clarity. I don't know if You want my mother to be a part of my life at this point. Please help me to wait patiently for Your guidance. Amen."
She heaved a breathless little sigh while reaching to turn the radio dial up. Music always made everything better.
Her phone lit up with a text from her dad. She reached for it, keeping her left hand on the wheel and her eyes on the road ahead of her. Right as she was stretching her arm towards her phone, she bumped the rumble strip. Her phone slid down to the floorboard. "Shoot." She scowled, her eyebrows twisting together. "I hope that wasn't anything important."
She drove on for several minutes, her mind wandering back to her mother and Arizona. She wondered, did she still look like Arabella? Would Arabella want to see her? How would she respond if she were to reach out to her? Her brain was flooded with questions which occupied her full attention.
Jules was finally jerked back to reality when she heard horns blaring at her from behind. She realized she'd been sitting at a green light for several minutes. She waved to the people behind her and took off cautiously, looking around for a fast food place. She spotted one up ahead and pulled through the drive-through to order an ice cream cone and large sweet tea. She paused licking at the melting drops of sweet cream just long enough to stretch down and grab her phone.
Jules caught her breath. She punched in her father's number and put her headphones in before pulling back out onto the highway. She began picking up speed quickly.
"Dad, talk to me."
"Are you driving?"
She sucked in a deep breath. "Yes, but I've got headphones in. Please tell me everything's okay."
"Everything will be okay."
"Your Grandad is having some problems with the new medications. He's had a rough afternoon."
Jules let out the breath she had been holding. "What kind of problems?"
"His blood pressure is really low, and he was having a minor seizure an hour ago. They think he's allergic to--to the--oh shoot, I can't remember what it's called. It's his newest medication. Anyways they're gonna change the dosages on two of his medications, and they want to keep a closer eye on him."
"Okay," she spoke slowly, carefully choosing her words. "What--what can I do? What will happen from here?"
"I'm not sure. He'll be in here for a while, Jules."
"Are you gonna be alright?"
"I'm fine. I'll see you soon. Bye."
She hung up quickly, tears streaming down her face. Her lip trembled and her knuckles turned white from her grip on the steering wheel. Her forgotten ice cream cone was melting away in the cup holder. Silence reigned for a few brief seconds.
She pounded her fist on the steering wheel and then drew it back, frightened at how much it hurt. Her lip shook while her face was covered with the tears of a thousand small sorrows she had never cried over.
"Why now, God?" Her voice shook, pulsing with indescribable hurt. "I can't fix all of this. I can't make him better. You can't take him from me!" She screamed out loud, letting the pent-up confusion and rage wash over her.
Once her tears had slowed and her mind was calmer, she looked back over the last several moments and sighed. "I have no right to question You, Lord. And I cannot tell You what to do. Help me to understand. Help me to trust You, Lord. Lord, 'Help Thou my unbelief.' Amen."
Jules walked down the hallway towards her Grandad's room. She hesitated outside the door for a moment. Her eyes felt swollen and she knew she looked terrible after ugly crying in the car for nearly an hour. "Oh well," she shook her shoulders and stood up straight, pasting on a smile. "It is what it is."
Her dad ran over to meet her, giving her a big hug while she dropped her bags onto the floor. She held on to him tightly, sucking in a shaky breath.
"Are you going to be okay?"
"In time. I'm still adjusting."
Kevin released her slowly. "Miles is here."
"Oh," the color in her cheeks deepened and she dashed the last few tears away from her face. "Hey Miles. What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to visit with your dad for a little while before you got here. I offered to drive him back to your place so that you can keep your car. Just in case."
"Oh wow. Thank you, so much. That's very kind of you."
"No problem." He smiled. "I'll walk down the hall and give y'all some time to talk. I didn't mean to be in the way."
"You're not in the way at all. Please--" Jules slipped down into the chair which was sitting conveniently behind her.
Kevin knelt down in front of her and put his hands on each of her shoulders. "Jules, what's wrong?"
She drooped and wilted beneath his searching eyes. "I think I'm mentally exhausted."
"I can see that. I don't feel comfortable leaving you here alone, Jules."
"But you need a break. I can--I'll be fine."
"Really, I've been able to sleep off and on. I can stay longer, and I insist. Miles, would you be able to drive Jules back home?"
"Please, Jules. I'm really worried about you. I can't have you making yourself sick with stress. I need you to go home, go to bed early, and sleep in as late as you possibly can. Then you can come back and take a turn."
"Okay." Jules sighed. "I guess you're right."
Kevin handed her a few tissues and gave her another warm hug. "It will all get better."
"I know," she nodded. "It just feels so impossible right now."
"He will bring us through this. Together."
Miles cleared his throat. He moved over to the doorway and bent to pick up Jules' backpack. "I guess we should go before it gets much later."
Jules nodded. "Okay. Bye, Dad."
"Goodbye Sweetheart. I'll see you tomorrow." He gave her a hug and then turned to look Miles in the eye. "Thank you, Miles. I really appreciate it." He shook his hand.
"No problem, Sir."
Jules handed her dad the things she had gathered from Duncan's room, and then went out the door into the hallway. She walked down the hall next to Miles, carefully avoiding all eye contact with him. He was walking slower than usual, making an effort to match his pace with hers. She appreciated his thoughtfulness. The hall felt longer than usual, and she was beginning to pant a little by the time they got to the elevator. She leaned against the wall.
"Are you okay?" Miles looked concerned.
"I guess I'm more tired than I thought," she murmured, trying hard to summon a smile. "I really appreciate you going so far out of your way to help us out."
"I'm happy to be able to help. I hope, that is, I really hope this didn't put you in an awkward spot."
"No, it's fine. This is fine. It's good that Dad didn't have to leave Grandad alone to take me home. I know he would have if he needed to, but still," she panted again while she stepped out of the elevator, leaving her sentence hanging in the air behind her.
"Here, Jules. Sit here for a moment. I'll be right back." He pointed to an arm chair in the waiting room and then hurried back down the hall.
Jules sunk down into the cushions and leaned her head back. She closed her eyes. Her lip trembled, and a tear threatened to escape from beneath her closed eyelids. She put her arms around herself and squeezed, lifting up a silent prayer for strength.
Miles walked back a few minutes later and softly called her name. She opened her eyes.
"Here," he said, "I got you a cup of tea from the cafeteria."
He sat down across from Jules while she took an appreciative sip. "I know caregiving can be really hard. I want you to know that my grandpa and are praying for you all right now. Please don't feel bad if you need to ask for help at any time. We're here for you."
"Thank you." She laughed quietly. "I feel like such a broken record. But I really, truly am thankful."
He smiled. "I know. I'm happy to help in any way I can. Honestly."
She nodded and took another sip from her steaming paper cup. "I'm ready to go now."
"Okay." He stood up and slung her bag back over his shoulder. "My car is parked on the lowest level, so we don't have much further to walk."
Once they reached his car he opened the passenger door for her, and then put her backpack in the backseat.
Jules settled her purse at her feet and reached for her seatbelt while Miles started the engine. She smiled a little to herself, wondering what on earth they'd find to talk about in the good two and a half hours they had to go before she would be home.
Thu, 02/08/2018 - 05:55
In reply to I like the ending of this by Libby
Thank you! You're so kind.
Thank you! You're so kind. I'm glad the dialogue is smooth. I'm afraid I really struggle to keep it natural. My little sister really likes this chapter, too, and I must admit it's one of my favorites. Thanks again!
I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.
I like the ending of this
I like the ending of this chapter. :)
And the dialogue is flowing very naturally, I think. I can't wait for more to come soon!!