I wasn’t going to let him ruin his own fortieth birthday surprise.
I clung to Dom’s arm as we walked up the plank. When we got on board the yacht, Captain Rob guided Dom, “you have to duck your head, Mr. Fosu, and take a giant step here to get in, watch your head.” We ducked in through the small door that opened up into the grand reception area. There were eighty smiling faces dressed in tuxedos and gowns standing right in front of us, but only the cool ocean wind cut through the silence.
A second later, everyone exploded, “Surprise!”
As I clutched Dom’s hands for dear life, my knees started to shake uncontrollably. The next thing I knew, they gave way and I couldn’t hold on to his hand.
The room started to go gray. I staggered, clutching at the side of the bed to steady myself as the room spun around me. I stumbled to a chair, barely grabbing the chair back with my left hand before my knees hit the tile floor. I bowed my head and cupped my hands around my forehead. I turned my back to Dom and the chaos in the room. The next thing I knew, I was crying out at the top of my lungs. Nothing else mattered.
“Oh God, please help us!” The loud, screeching, cry came from some place deep in the bowels of my soul. “Please help us God! We need you! My kids need their father. I need my husband. Please save Dom, Lord, save him!” My body shook uncontrollably. The loud cries just kept coming. I couldn’t tell you if I was on the floor for minutes or for days, but I know in that moment I cried out to God like I never had before. In that tunnel of a moment, I realized there was nothing I could do for Dom. Only God could help, so I focused on summoning Him with every fiber of my devastated soul.
A nurse’s loud scream brought me back to the chaos, and I realized I needed to return to Dom. I put my left hand on the ground and used my body weight to drag myself to my feet. I walked back to Dom. It felt like someone had just dropped Mount Everest on my shoulders.
I walked into Dom’s room, grateful for the quiet, but what I saw left me speechless. Dom’s head was swollen to three times its normal size. I gasped and nearly toppled forward. Yesterday Dom had a bit of swelling, but today, with the staples, he looked like Frankenstein.
I looked away, unable to handle the sight. I finally found the courage to walk around the corner of the bed and take Dom’s hand. Dr. Dubois had said there would be more swelling, but I hadn’t expected anything like this. I chanced another peek at Dom. The shape of his head had been one of the first things I’d noticed about him the day I first saw him at that Accenture meeting where we’d first met. The shape of his head, the proud way he held his neck, and his deep black skin had told me he was most likely from West Africa. Now, my West African Ashanti prince was almost unrecognizable. Even his eyes bulged out.
A sheet covered Dom’s body, and I finally got up the courage to pull the cover back for the first time. His geometric patterned, blue, grey, and white hospital gown was in place, and his hands were taped in place on plank-like boards so they would stay flat. Each finger was individually housed in a device that kept his fingers separated and his hands flat and open.
I pulled the covers further down past Dom’s waist. His privates were covered, but two tubes came under his gown for his urine and bowel movements. His legs were straight. White-balloon flaps that were taped around each leg inflated every few seconds. I wasn’t sure what they were for, but I guessed they were used to stimulate blood flow. He had similar devices on his arms, too. On his feet were comfortable-looking, Alaska-grey boots. One of the nurses had said something about needing to keep his extremities warm.
There was a lot going on under those covers—and that was all in addition to the six machines hooked up to him that monitored everything from Dom’s blood pressure to the dosage of his medication. I gently tucked in the inner sheet and covered Dom back up again.
The boys were already on their way to sleep. My tears were about to fall, but I held them back until I turned off Devin’s overhead light and made it downstairs to the family room couch. I finally gave my tears free rein, soaking the throw blanket I’d pulled over me as I wept silently. The boys needed their father. I needed him. I longed to hear his voice and feel the strength of his arms surrounding me. The reality that this was going to take longer than I thought had started to set in, and I was completely overwhelmed—a small sailboat adrift in a hurricane. Lord, send someone to help me, I prayed again. I don’t know what to do. Tears spent, I curled up in a corner on the couch. I didn’t have the energy to make it back upstairs to my bed. Maybe in a few minutes. A distant voice on the TV caught my attention for a fleeting moment. Then exhaustion won.