Peanut Butter Cup Perfection.
Chocolate ice cream, Reese's peanut butter cups, peanut butter, and fudge in a waffle cone bowl. 880 calories. 52 grams of fat. An exorbitant blend of all things deemed "heart attack foods" by myself and every health magazine in America, all combined in one muddy pile, in a fudge-dipped waffle cone.
The first time Abram ordered that from Cold Stone, I watched him indulge in his own personal heaven. As I looked on in horror, I told him to enjoy it as much as he possibly could, because he would never be consuming that much death disguised as dessert in a cone at one time again. I would not lose him because his arteries decided to take the fatty objects of his gluttonous indulgence as in-house guests.
He only smiled, said he'd just have to up the intake of his own personal Peanut Butter Cup Perfection. He jokingly (and sincerely all at once) called me PBC that entire month, and much to my delight, up his intake he did indeed. He thought it was cute that I worried about his physical wellness when he was a perfectly viable 27-year-old man whose own doctor was impressed by his Grade-A bill of health. Told me God's will had yet to be hindered by anyone denying themselves a Cold Stone creation. Yet and still, I refused to allow such corpulent consumption on my watch.
A friggin waffle cone of chocolate ice cream, and some punk ass peanut butter.
I was worried about it taking Abram away from me. Looked down the line twenty years and refused to see a trail of frequent visits to a popular creamery as the reason he exited the world prematurely.
Not some horrible accident. Not a mugging or a robbery or a plane crash. I chose to obsess about peanut butter.
I never thought I'd be an ICU girlfriend. Never thought the cause of Abram's demise could be unnatural causes. Never thought I'd look at yesterday as a missed opportunity to tell him how much I Love him, or to kiss his sometimes dry lips, or fuss about him leaving my toilet seat up, or swat his hairy-knuckled hand away from my behind in public; or spoon feed him a whole cone full of Peanut Butter Cup Perfection.
I want to be mad at him, to be loathing his very existence right now.
More than anything in the world, I want to rewind to eighteen hours ago, when I was angrily plotting the ways in which I'd make him pay for being a dirty, lying dog. I want to go back and find him there in that hotel room; shirtless, maybe sweaty, he could even be wearing the Dolce & Gabbana boxer briefs I bought him from Neiman Marcus last week. And he looks damn good in those.
I just want to go back. I want a redo. I want him to be there at the Omni, in that skank's hotel room; guilty. I want to yell and curse and scream and tell him to not touch me when he desperately tries to apologize. I want him to be cheating and lying and yelling about how he isn't cheating and lying. I want him to be there.
...Because then, he wouldn't be here.
Because then, I wouldn't be here.
If he was cheating, he wouldn't be laying in a cold, lonely room in the Intensive Care Unit of Sinai-Grace hospital fighting for his life. He wouldn't be unrecognizable, bandages and tubes and bruises and scratches ruining his previously untarnished brown canvas. If I had just been right about him being wrong, he'd be safely tucked away in a hotel suite, creating tainted memories with the arrogant brown-skinned woman with wavy hair.
I could deal with that pain. That pain could be directed. Blamed. Made responsible for.
This though? The pain of not knowing from one hour to the next if I will be planning funeral services or ICU visits in the near future is unbearable. Seeing Abram in this state is the kind of pain that people fear their whole lives. The idea of losing someone close to you, losing someone you love.sex.hate.breathe.live.give.adore.debate.dote.loathe.like … losing that ... well you might as well have lost your left hand; life will go on, but you will never quite be whole again.
I don't want a prosthetic Abram. I want my Abram. The real one. I do not want another left hand. There is no replacement.
The slight rap on my window briefly interrupts the train of thoughts barreling through my brain. The rain outside is furious, the sky even angry at such a tragedy marring this day. Mr. Montgomery's face is morose when I roll my window down. He sighs at the torrent of tears littering my face, my shirt that looks as if I've just walked to the car through a thunderstorm myself.
"Ata, you should come inside. Your mother wanted me to check on you. Why aren't you answering anyone's calls?"
"I don't want to talk to anyone."
"They took him for another emergency surgery about an hour ago. You should be inside with him, Ata. Spend as much time as you can. My boy is strong, but the doctors--" At this his voice catches, his eyes find the ground, his head follows in defeat. He is seemingly unaware of the raindrops beating his thin jacket into submission. "...the doctors are saying it's not looking good. Oh, my boy. My son. It's not looking good, Ata."
His silent tears blend with the rain on his solemn face.
I want to yell for him to shut-up and leave me alone. I want to curse him for walking through a flood of sky tears to tell me what I already fucking know. I want to hug him and comfort him and cry on his shoulder. I want to go hold Abram's hand, kiss his tattered skin, and by osmosis, transfer every healthy cell from my body to his; to mend his mangled bones and un-collapse his pierced lungs. I want to sit by his side and pray to God until he is 100 percent. I want to witness the miracle. I want to smack him for driving in that lane in that moment on that freeway. I want to slap him for not being with me in those minutes. I want to call my mother and have her tell me everything's going to be alright and assure me that God has Abram in his arms, that he will be okay. I want to go be the shoulder for a crumpled Mrs. Montgomery, mentally preparing herself for the worse, and yet refusing to let any water shed from her eyes while in Abram's room, because she knows he'd never want her to be this upset. I want to be strong.
But I can't.
I can't do any of that. All I can muster up the strength to do right now is sit here, numb and unmoving, overwhelming my face and my vision with tears that refuse to stop taking suicidal leaps off my lashes.
They won't understand that I can't. This is their son. I imagine losing a child is a worse pain than even losing a mate. If they can be strong, then I should be able to as well.
But this, isn't their fault.
This accident ultimately, is traced back to me. I am the reason.
I've sliced it a million different ways, and each way leads right back to me. I am the reason Abram entertained that wavy-haired bitch. I am the reason he chose to let alcohol soothe his evening. I am the reason he took the long route home. I'm even the reason he likes Rum and Coke, which I'm sure he was drinking.
Abram's friend Garrett sped up next to my car earlier today, looking like the rest of us; distraught, eyes red, wondering how a few hours could change life so drastically.
"I should've told him to take his ass home. Damnit, I should've told him to go home. This is all my fault." He spoke as though he really believed Abram's predicament was on him.
He'd been with Abram before the accident. Before, according to witness accounts, a black GMC Envoy driven by a drunk 19-year-old girl, had careened three lanes over in front of Abram and hit the brakes to avoid hitting some imaginary car in front of her. Abram hadn't had his seat belt on and had rear-ended her going 75 mph.
She had a broken arm, back pain, and a few scratches.
He'd been thrown from his car.
I've never seen him drive without a seat belt, and that was enough to tell me he'd been drinking, even before Garrett arrived and filled in some of the holes. They'd gone to happy hour. I asked him if at this happy hour, was there a dark-brown woman with wavy hair.
His response: "Um, why?"
That, was all I needed. That was my answer. Abram had met her at happy hour. The happy hour he was only at because I'd made spending time with his actual girlfriend a volatile thought. I can't even stomach the disgust I have with myself for the petty arguments I've been starting the last few weeks.
"I don't like you Garrett. I think you are grossly immature and a menace to women everywhere. If this was your fault, I'd gladly place the blame. But it's not your fault. It's mine." I said when he parked next to me and climbed into my passenger seat. He was obviously completely broken, ravished by undeserved guilt.
"Nah. I invited him. I told him to come down. He was on his way home and I fucking told him to come downtown and drink."
He told me how Abram had been stressed over what he assumed was an argument with me, and he'd offered a harmless detour on his route home. I told him about the message I'd heard from the wavy-haired woman, and about my little visit to her room. Explained how this was all ultimately, my fault.
His eyes raised in disbelief, tried to refute it with facts of yesterday's happenings. Claimed that Abram didn't have it in him to cheat. It looked bad, yes. But he knew his best friend, and that just wasn't him. Abram was loyal to a fault.
I decided not to argue with him. He'd somehow convinced me to go into the hospital and face the vision of what I knew would be a broken shadow of Abram's former self. He'd had to go through six hours of emergency surgery to correct the trauma that the collision had caused to his body, his organs, his brain.
The doctors were amazed that he was alive. Being thrown from the car had actually saved his life. Told us if he'd been wearing his seat belt, he would've been crushed to death by the impact. But the outlook was still dim, at best. They were watching his brain functions, the swelling, his pierced lungs from cracked ribs; they had induced a coma to keep his heart rate stable.
I walked into the room with full trepidation.
I soon found it was for good cause.
I didn't even recognize him.
He was not Abram. This was not my Superman. This, was some weakened, kryptonite-stricken, bandaged being, whom I had somehow managed to villainize in my own head. Tragedy makes you remember the important things. Tragedy makes you realize how small some issues are. How precious life really is.
My phone has not stopped ringing since I arrived at the hospital. Everyone is concerned. The flower arrangements began pouring in from Abram's friends, coworkers, mentees. He is a vastly loved individual.
The world can't afford to lose him.
While I was in his room, I talked to him, told him how sorry I am. Told him I love him. How much I want him to awaken and tell me the same. How I will be here by his side, everyday until he does. I told him he can have as much Peanut Butter Cup Perfection as he so desires, if he would just fight through this.
If he would just return to me.
I need him to come back to me.
I look over at Mr. Montgomery, still standing in the rain, fighting his own fears, coping with the idea that he may be witnessing his son's last hours. The son he taught how to ride a bike and play every kind of ball. The one he picked up from school when he got into fights and comforted during the worst times of his life. The son he had lengthy talks with about sex and girls and sports and college and career and life; the son he raised.
I see that fear of losing all those years, the pain of losing 27 years invested in watching and helping the only fruit of your loin grow into a Man, and my sadness deepens.
I suddenly feel selfish. Even in blaming Abram's accident on me, I have somehow managed to selfishly turn this into an Ata issue. It's not about me. The love of my life is in that hospital fighting for some semblance of life, and I'm in my car feeling bad for myself. I wipe the still-falling tears and clear my vision.
"Let's go see if anything's changed." I sniffle as I say this to Mr. Montgomery, snap him out of his troubled thoughts. He still seemingly has not noticed the rain.
We walk slowly in and I'm surprised to see my mother and stepbrother Jake have joined Mrs. Montgomery and the rest of Abram's family. Yes, they are ALL here. A prayer circle has been formed around the small room and they hold hands, send pleas up to heaven for my wounded Superman.
My mother's arms wrap around me, take me back to when I was sixteen and we were at this very hospital, waiting for the doctor to let us go in and see my dad. I never saw him alive in this hospital. Never got to say goodbye.
I close my eyes, let my mother's embrace comfort me. Beg God to not let Abram see the same fate as my father did that day in this place, nine years ago.
All heads turn when a middle-aged Indian man walks into the waiting room, adorned head to toe in scrubs, a surgery mask dangling around his neck. He acknowledges everyone in the room with a sweep of his head, then turns to Abram's parents.
"As of right now, his stats are much better. The surgery relieved a lot of the pressure and we consider that a success. Now, all we can do is wait." He offers a small smile, one that gives me hope.
And hope is all I have right now.