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Marilyn squeezed Buck’s hand. “You were blessed to have so many people who cared about you.” What she wouldn’t have given for just one person to help her? Just one person who would support her? What would that have been like? Would have made her decision easier? Would she have been able to have a choice? Could have kept Lark and raised her by herself if she’d had someone in her corner? The thought broke her heart. She could hardly imagine a life less lonely than the last twenty years.
She blinked away the sting in her eyes.
Buck cleared his throat. “I think we’ve both been through tough times.”
Before he could elaborate, a nurse appeared in the doorway.
“Good morning,” she said as she checked the vital stats on the various machines attached to Marilyn’s body. “Ready to be disconnected from a few of these?”
Marilyn raised her arm and a cascade of tubes and wires followed. “It’d certainly be easier to move around.”
“Best get ready for that too.” The nurse grinned. “We’re going to get you on your feet in just a minute.”
“So soon?” Marilyn asked, her eyes darted between Buck and the nurse. Shouldn’t she heal longer? She could tear stitches moving around too much.
“They don’t let you relax for a minute around here. No matter how wired-up you are,” Buck said.
“We don’t want you to develop blood clots in your legs from being in one position for too long.” The nurse unhooked the inflatable socks on Marilyn’s legs. “These help keep the blood flowing, but nothing beats walking around.” She laid socks on a counter after tucking some tubes around the end of the bed. She removed a handful of other sensors, but left the IV in Marilyn’s hand.
“I was hoping that one could go.” Marylin sighed.
“I know. IV needles are the worst, but we need to keep fluids in you.” The nurse brought a robe over to Marilyn and draped it around her shoulders. “Swing your feet over the side of the bed, then sit here for a minute.”
Marilyn tucked her arms into the sleeves of the robe, then tied the belt at her waist. The floor appeared an impossible distance away. The revelation came with the realization that the last time she’d been on her feet was before she collapsed.
“When you’re ready, push yourself forward to stand. Don’t walk yet. Just get your balance.” The nurse supported her under her elbow as Marilyn eased her weight onto her feet for the first time in twenty-four hours.
The room tipped and swayed and Marilyn was sure she was going to inspect the cleanliness of the hospital floors with her face, but Buck was immediately by her side with one hand on her elbow and another behind her back.
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