• Gina Fegan

Chapter 10. Shock of a different kind.

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Now Maeve was really in her element. There were lists to be written. Work to be divided between them. What information would need the police to access and what information could Maeve get herself. Would they need a warrant? Did she need to talk to her spirit contacts, the victims, and if so how would she do that? She’d need to check in with Ada for that.

Maeve had not stopped talking as she noticed something flash across the screen of her mobile phone, there was a missed call, actually there were 14 missed calls on her mobile phone. “Give me a minute.” She said as she called voicemail. Suddenly she was completely still, she turned white and almost dropped the phone. Not able to talk, tears streamed down her face. Steve had been a copper long enough to know the kind of information that caused this level of reaction, and it wasn’t good. 

He moved to her side of the table and put his arm around her shoulders, she needed a shoulder to cry on. Giving her a few minutes, very gently and calmly he said, “was it the hospital?” She nodded. “Was it Canterbury hospital?” She shook her head, and mumbled “William Harvey, Ashford.” 

Steve was really good in a crisis, he constructed a scenario from the info he had, it was likely that something bad had happened to Maeve’s mother, if it had been the daughters it would be more likely to be the local hospital. Maeve was clearly in a state of shock. Steve took charge of the situation, “You are not in a fit state to drive, I’ll take you there now.” She nodded again, still deathly white. Half supporting her they left the cafe. Steve hadn’t mentioned that they would be on a motorbike, Maeve didn’t even seem to notice, she was lost on some level of autopilot. Steve was hugely sympathetic. He had had enough of this kind of bad news himself but at the same time having an attractive woman need him, felt good, and he always enjoyed the bike ride through the green countryside. He felt her body warm behind him on the bike, and in his head he could hear The Eagles, playing ‘Take it Easy’. It was an uneventful 25minutes giving them both time to reflect.

The message from the hospital was “Maeve McPhillips, I am very sorry to tell you that your mother Ada McPhillips has had a serious heart attack and is in intensive care about to undergo emergency surgery. We have tried to get in touch with you but since there was no reply we have gone ahead. She has already been anesthetised. You do not need to rush over here, it will be at least four hours before we know if the surgery has been successful. We suggest that you take that time to make your way calmly to the hospital, the William Harvey, accident and emergency unit. Reception will be able to direct you from there.” 

Maeve couldn’t process it. She couldn’t lose Ada now, not now, when after all these years they had begun to find each other. All that wasted time. Maeve wasn’t religious but on that journey she held onto Steve like a protective barrier, and prayed to any god that would listen. Please, please, God, let her come through. I need her! She surprised herself with the level of emotion. Ada had always been there, sometimes like a needy ‘prima donna’, but always there. They had had their differences, Maeve had spent years blaming Ada for everything wrong in her life. Now faced with the possibility of losing her, Maeve was enveloped in an overwhelming indescribable sadness, she didn’t ‘need’ her, she loved her. She loved Ada’s quirky ways, flamboyant outfits, the drama and colour that surrounded her. In her mind she flitted between all the good times they had had. Ada making her laugh, Ada turning ordinary life into fun adventures. She didn’t want to break down in tears again so Maeve concentrated all her thoughts, ‘Please, whatever spirit or god is out there, please, please, don’t let her die.’

They hadn’t been able to speak on the way. Steve parked the bike and took her straight to accident and emergency reception. It was only then that he found out his assumptions had been right. By the time they got there, Ada had gone into surgery. 

The hospital had carried out an angiogram and discovered that Ada had serious plaque, or fat, build-up around her heart with arterial blockages of more than 70% in three of her arteries. Probably not helped by 35 years as a heavy smoker along with a fondness for a few glasses of red wine in the evening, every evening. Multi-vessel coronary artery disease is high risk, the prognosis was that she needed three of her four coronary arteries dealt with immediately. The surgeon was going to insert stents to open up the valves and allow normal blood flow. The planned insertion of a stent has become a reasonably low risk operation needing only a day in hospital for the whole process. For Ada, with three stents and under emergency conditions the risk was high. Nothing for it but to wait.  

Steve got her that emergency standby of hot tea with plenty of sugar, explaining that adrenaline uses up a lot of energy and that soon she would also need to eat something or she would suffer a sugar crash and get the shakes, but right now the sugar was fine as a temporary stop gap. Maeve let it all drift over her, the calm ordinariness of the words with his reassuring voice was just what she needed, and he knew that. The tea was good too. 

Then she began to talk. Steve was a good listener. Maeve drifted from subject to subject. How she had grown up in Southern Ireland, in Co. Meath, race horse country, “it’s green, really green, everything is green, lush vegetation that merges into the trees so there is no gap in the greenness. You don’t realise it till you leave and then when you come back you can see it, there really are forty shades of green. And why is it so green, I hear you ask, because it rains, a lot! But when the sun comes out it is beautiful, rich colour, you can smell the earth, the wild flowers, delicate white of the cow parsley in the hedgerow” She was talking, just to talk. She rambled on, the family had moved to England when Maeve’s father got a job in Middlesex. They lived in London because Ada had had enough of the countryside for a while. Maeve didn’t talk much about her father, clearly they had had a strained relationship. Moving on to her life now, “I don’t know. Since I had the girls I think I put my own life on hold. I seem to have been surviving just managing from day to day, focusing on making sure they had a good childhood, being there for them. When my Dad was ill, dying, I didn’t deal with it, I thought about supporting Ada, supporting the kids. I didn’t want to think about ‘me’. Recently I have begun to realise that I have put off a lot of things. These last few days have forced me to face up to so many aspects of my life. I didn’t know, or I had refused to acknowledge, that I could communicate with the other side.” Maeve was talking herself out, but for the first time in a long time it felt comfortable, no one was judging her, Steve really was a good listener. She appreciated it. More tea.

Slowly Maeve was beginning to register her surroundings; the hot dry air in all hospitals, the sweet smell of disinfectant, clean, dry, white and pink, safe. She noticed that there were a few people behind Steve. They looked like they were waiting to talk to her. 

She was just about to say something when a woman called out, “Ms McPhillips, Ms McPhillips?” Locating Maeve, she went on, “I’m Dr Dalrymple, your mother’s cardiologist. Is this your husband?” Addressed to Steve, “emm, no a friend…” No need for explanations, “Fine, first of all, good news, well so far so good. She has come through the operation and is in the recovery unit. So long as there is no infection it should be fine. She seems a little disoriented, talking to people who aren’t there. It does happen, we expect it will pass in the next day or so. Will you be able to look after her? We will keep her in for observation for the next 24 hours. All being well, you can then take her home, as soon as she is fully discharged. She should not be on her own for the next few weeks.” Inside Maeve had been doing a little dance, on the outside she had clenched her fist so hard that her nails dug into the palms of her hands and had changed colour a few times her cheeks now in full bloom. “Oh my God! Fantastic, fantastic!! When can I see her?” Dr Dalrymple had a broad smile, it’s good to be able to give good news, “don’t get too excited yet, we still have to make sure that everything is okay, that it has all taken and there are no adverse reactions. Sometimes in rare cases the body can reject the material that the stents are made of. Your mother seems to be very resilient, so we are hopeful. You should be able to visit her in an hour or so. I will send someone down to get you as soon as she’s ready. But as I said we will keep her in for observation overnight.” 

Beaming Maeve said, “Thank you Doctor, thank you so much. Amazing, that you have done all that and we didn’t even know she was ill!” The young doctor enjoying Maeve’s relief went on, “She probably didn’t know herself. She may have felt less energy and just put it down to age, a lot of people do that, and don’t want to bother anyone. You should never do that, always get things checked out. It’s much easier for us when it isn’t an emergency!” Dr Dalrymple may have looked young but she had an air of confidence in her subject that was very reassuring, with that she left them for her next case.

In a quandary over what to do about the girls Maeve sent each of them a text, “Ada is okay but in hospital for the moment so I may be late back” she didn’t want to frighten them but she did want to prepare them, fingers crossed she had hit the right tone and that would do it.

“Steve, this may sound strange, but is there someone behind you, sort of waiting to talk to me?” Steve turned around, and then did another turn, “No, not really, unless you mean that bloke over there.” He pointed to a man standing by the hospital shop browsing the flowers. “Thanks, I think there may be a few new ‘friends’ here. Can you give me a minute? They won’t talk while you are with me.” Now Steve was totally disconcerted, then again, he could do with some air and checking in with the station. He walked out of the hospital, phone in hand, while Maeve sat down at a quiet table notebook in hand, “It’s okay you can talk now.”

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