When Amelia’s husband abandons her and their unborn son, she promises her child that she’ll always keep him safe and happy. A few years later, a tragedy makes her realize she made a promise she can’t keep.
“I don’t know why you’re so surprised, Amelia.” Thomas barely looked at his wife as he packed the last of his clothes into a duffel bag. “I told you I don’t want children.”
“It’s a bit late for that.” Amelia patted her belly.
She was too early into her pregnancy to show, but she already loved the tiny life growing inside her. She’d thought Tom would feel the same, but instead, he was leaving them both.
“I’m sorry, Amelia, but I can’t be a father. I don’t want to share you.”
“You are a father, regardless. I think you mean that you’re too selfish to be a parent, and you know what? You’re right.”
Amelia marched to the bed. She snatched Thomas’ duffel bag from his hands and dragged it to the front door. “The sooner you’re gone, the better.”
Amelia tossed his bag out onto the steps.
Thomas followed it out. He turned to say something, but Amelia had heard enough of his self-serving nonsense. She shut the door in his face. Good riddance!
Amelia sank to the floor. It would take hard work, but she knew that she and her baby would be alright without Thomas. She would care for this child by herself.
“I’ll always do my best to ensure you’re safe and happy, little one.”
Amelia hugged her belly. “I promise I’ll always be there for you.”
A few months later, Amelia gave birth to a beautiful, healthy boy named Nicholas. Although she had to work hard, Amelia always spent most of her free time with her son. Every day, she renewed her promise to ensure Nick was happy and safe.
However, there are some things that no parent can protect their children from, as Amelia discovered one day. Nick was three at the time. He and Amelia were in the yard, driving Nick’s trucks through the dirt when the little boy made an awful sound.
“Nicky?” Amelia reached for her son. His mouth was open, and it sounded like he was choking. She checked his mouth in case he’d swallowed a part from one of his toys when she wasn’t looking but saw nothing.
The next few seconds felt like hours as Amelia realized Nicholas was in serious trouble. She called the paramedics, and an ambulance rushed Nick to the hospital.
Amelia paced the hallway outside the Emergency ward. Her thoughts raced as she tried to figure out if she’d done something wrong to cause this and what she’d do if the worst happened. These dark thoughts were about to consume her when a doctor approached her.
“How’s Nicky?” Amelia wrung her hands.
“Is my son going to be okay?”
“We have stabilized him, but we need to keep him overnight to monitor the situation and conduct some tests. I’ll need you to sign these consent forms.”
Amelia stared at the forms the doctor handed to her. “That’s a lot of tests.”
“His condition is serious, and we need to find out what’s causing his respiratory issues.”
Amelia signed the papers, and a nurse later escorted her to Nick’s bed in the ICU ward. Her son was already a little small for his age, but now he was dwarfed by pipes and ticking machines.
Amelia collapsed into the chair by his bedside and cried. This was all her fault. If she’d given Nick a better multivitamin or been stricter about making him eat his broccoli, all of this might have been averted.
All of Amelia’s guilt over the past few days overwhelmed her then. She burst into tears and sobbed until her throat felt raw and tight.
She fell asleep, thinking she’d broken her promise to keep Nick safe, and woke to the sound of machines blaring alarms. Nurses rushed into the room and crowded around Nick.
Amelia tried to force her way past the nurses to see what was happening. She caught a glimpse of her son’s pale face and blue lips before strong arms pulled her away.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but you need to leave so we can help your son,” one of the nurses said as she escorted Amelia from the room.
Amelia pressed her face to the glass panel in the door, but even that was soon denied her.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I need to get in there.” A doctor placed his hand on Amelia’s shoulder and guided her away from the door. A technician wheeling a machine rushed into Nick’s room.
“I know it’s hard to wait out here, but we need you to be patient, please,” the doctor continued.
“We’re doing everything we can for Nicholas.”
He wheeled away, and Amelia was left waiting once more. She felt like her life was crashing down around her. In desperation, she pulled her phone from her pocket and called somebody she hadn’t spoken to in years.
Amelia started speaking as soon as the call was answered but quickly broke into sobs.
“I didn’t make out a word of that, honey,” a woman said, “but it sounds like you’re in a bad way. What can I do to help you?”
Amelia sniffed. “Who are you? Where’s Thomas?”
“Tom is upstairs. I’m his wife, Mary. Who are you?”
“His ex-wife, and the mother of his child.”
“Thomas has a child?”
Amelia hung up and stuffed the phone back in her pocket. Why had she thought Thomas would care that Nick was sick?
Soon, the doctor emerged from Nick’s room and invited Amelia inside.
“Nick is stable for now, but I’m deeply concerned by the severity of his breathing difficulties,” the doctor said. “Until we can get to the root of what’s causing it, we need to put him on life support.”
The doctor guided Amelia to the chair and crouched down beside her.
“I know this is scary, but we’re doing our best to get to the bottom of this. Until we have answers, putting him on life support is the only way to prevent him going into respiratory distress again.”
The doctor had a gentle face and kind eyes. He genuinely cared about Nick, and Amelia felt she could trust him.
For days, Amelia barely left the hospital. She slept in the chair beside Nick’s bed until the doctor, Gavin, arranged for a small bed to be placed in the room for her. Whenever Nick was awake, Amelia held his hand and spoke to him.
Sometimes, she read to Nick from a storybook Gavin brought for her, but mostly she sang to him. Nick loved music. He couldn’t sing along because he was intubated but hearing his mom sing always put a sparkle in his eyes.
Gavin checked in on Nick several times daily and always brought Amelia something to eat.
“You need your strength,” he’d said the first time he pushed a container of food into her hands. “I’m definitely not the best cook, but I can guarantee you it’s better than the food from the cafeteria.”
His thoughtfulness touched Amelia. She knew he had been working hard to figure out what was wrong with Nick and had consulted with specialists worldwide.
“Do you treat all your patients with this much care?” Amelia asked one day while Gavin was checking on Nick.
Gavin smiled at her. “I like to think so, but I might be guilty of giving you and Nick a bit of extra attention. As a doctor, there are times when your patients creep into your heart.”
He stroked Nick’s hair off his forehead. “Who wouldn’t be touched by this young man’s determination? Or his mom’s courage and strength?”
Amelia ducked her head as she felt herself blush.
“I promised him I’d always be there for him, and that I’d do everything I could to give him a safe and happy life.”
Amelia sighed and looked at her sleeping child. “If only I’d been able to keep that promise.”
“Don’t blame yourself.” Gavin came around and gently squeezed her arm. “You’re a great mom, Amelia, but some things in life are beyond our power and control. You have done everything you can, and that means you’ve kept your promise.”
All of Amelia’s guilt over the past few days overwhelmed her then. She burst into tears and sobbed until her throat felt raw and tight. Gavin put his arm around her shoulders and quietly supported Amelia until her tears ran dry.
The next day, Amelia felt more positive about Nick’s situation. A weight had been lifted from her shoulders when Gavin helped her realize she hadn’t broken her promise, and the results from Nick’s latest series of tests were due today.
Amelia was confident the test results would contain good news until she saw the dark look in Gavin’s eyes and the worry etched across his brow.
“I’m very sorry, Amelia,” Gavin said.
“The test results came in this morning and they aren’t good. Nick isn’t responding to the medication.”
Amelia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “I was so certain you’d have good news,” she muttered.
“I wish I did, but there’s nothing more we can do for him at this point. I… I hate to say this, but you must make a tough decision. Nick can’t stay on life support indefinitely.”
Amelia’s deepest fears had crawled to life. She couldn’t breathe, and the walls were closing in around her. Part of her wanted to scream and strike out at Gavin until he told her something better, but when she looked at him, she only saw the sorrow he shared with her.
“If there was anything else we could try, I would do it,” Gavin said, “but we’ve exhausted all our options.”
Amelia walked away to sit at Nick’s side. She took her son’s hand. It was so small. She trailed her fingers across his chubby cheeks and into his fine, dark hair. He was due for another haircut, but he wouldn’t need it now.
Amelia felt a slight pressure on her hand and looked up. Nick was watching her with his big, dark eyes.
“Hey, buddy,” Amelia said. “Do you want to hear a song?”
Nick squeezed her hand again, so Amelia sang to him. She read him his favorite story and then sang to him some more. Her throat was sore and scratchy by the time Nick fell asleep again, but Amelia was determined to make him as happy as possible for his last few hours.
Amelia nodded. She held Nick’s hand as Gavin and the nurses began taking him off the life support machines. When they started to remove the tube feeding him oxygen, Amelia couldn’t handle it anymore.
She ran from the room in tears and fell to her knees in the hallway. Her beautiful son, who she’d fought so hard for, was about to leave her life forever. How could it have come to this point?
Then Amelia heard something that made her jolt upright. Although it had been weeks, she instantly recognized Nick’s voice as he sang his favorite song.
Amelia scrambled back into Nick’s room. Her son lay in his bed, free of all the tubes and machines Amelia had grown accustomed to, and he was singing. It wasn’t a trick of her imagination.
Gavin looked as shocked as Amelia felt. He pressed his stethoscope to the boy’s chest and listened to his lungs. Their gazes locked across the room.
“He’s breathing on his own,” Gavin said.
Nick slowly improved after that day. He transferred to a rehabilitation center, and eventually, Amelia could take him home. As she watched Nick fall asleep, Amelia couldn’t help but think of the kind doctor who worked so hard to save her son.
Amelia returned to the hospital the next day and sought out Gavin.
“Amelia?” Gavin approached her with a worried look. “Is everything okay?”
“Yes, and it’s all thanks to you.” Amelia presented Gavin with the container she’d brought for him. “I made cookies to thank you for everything you did for Nick and me. You aren’t only an amazing doctor, but an incredible person too.”
Gavin smiled shyly.
“That’s very kind of you, Amelia. It means a lot to me, and I’m glad to see you again. I hope this doesn’t sound too strange, but I’ve missed seeing you every day.”
An unexpected warmth bloomed in Amelia’s chest. “I’ve missed seeing you too, Gavin.”
Gavin and Amelia exchanged numbers. They discovered they had many interests in common as they got to know each other better and eventually fell in love. Nick also grew to love Gavin and see him as his dad. He proudly carried the rings when Amelia and Gavin married a few years later.
What can we learn from this story?
Miracles can happen when we least expect them. Amelia had lost all hope that her son would recover, but she was blessed with a wondrous gift.
Kindness will always bring people together. Gavin’s genuine affection and caring attitude toward Nick and Amelia forged a bond between them that neither one could’ve anticipated.
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