As the days went by Jesse gained even more strength back, working out his arms and upper body with dumb bells and rubber bands and he was able to hold himself steady on the crutches and walk a good distance. Even though exhausted he managed and he practiced every day and almost every time Shawn and Trish came to visit now, Jesse was not in his bed but either outside in the common area of the rehab unit, chatting with other patients or he was in the gym doing strengthening exercises for his arms and chest and doing the exercises Jeremy had been working on with him. He was able to put some weight on his foot now.
The cast eventually came off and Jesse’s tibia had healed well. His femur was still healing and his torn ACL still made things somewhat difficult. He knew he would have to have knee surgery after his bones were healed but he didn’t want to think about that yet. A rigid knee brace helped support his knee and pain medication was his constant friend now.
Kristy was continuing her mission trip in Guatemala and when she had a chance she sent text messages or chatted with Jesse, sometimes Skyping with him or calling him. Jesse usually waited for her to get in touch with him because depending on where she was at lots of times she didn’t have a signal so she would contact him.
It was a week until Kristy’s return when Jesse was finally getting discharged home on a Friday afternoon with an Outpatient Physical Therapy order in his hands, two times a week until his knee surgery.
Dr. Strickland had been checking on him every few days and on discharge day Jesse sat on his bed dressed in a hoodie, shorts with his right leg in the brace, and his socks and sneakers on his feet. He had been switched to forearm crutches over the past few days. Now they were next to him leaning on the bed as he waited for Shawn and Trish to come and pick him up when Dr. Strickland came into the room once more, “Hello Jesse!”
Dr. Strickland was in business casual clothes and pulled up a chair, “You are ready to get home, aren’t you?”
“Yes, very much.”
“Well, I am happy for you Jesse. It has been a long three months and I won’t keep you here any longer even though I bet our rehab nurses didn’t mind you being here at all. “
Dr. Strickland laughed and Jesse looked down embarrassed but smiling.
The doctor continued, “Everything looks good and we have talked about your knee situation already. We will wait until after Thanksgiving and plan the surgery for December. It won’t be like what you have been through and we should be able to fix that knee fairly easy. You just won’t get out of Physical Therapy and off your crutches anytime soon.”
Jesse laughed lowly, “Story of my life right now.”
Dr. Strickland remarked, “I heard you settled for a good amount of money coming out of the accident.”
Jesse nodded and the doctor added, “I am very glad you got what you deserved and I hope you and your brother are able to work things out at home. I have a feeling you guys really needed this.”
“Yeah, it will definitely help us a lot since I won’t be working construction anytime soon.”
“What is your plan employment wise?”
“My boss from Cascadia Construction may be able to get me on at the company in the admin side.”
“Good, that is great news.”
Jesse nodded again and said, “Thanks doc for everything.”
“No problem, it is my job to get people moving again. I will still see you around here for your appointments and feel free to stop by in my office over in the hospital anytime.”
“I will and I guess I will see you latest in December to get my knee worked on.”
“You sure will.”
Dr. Strickland got up and walked over to Jesse stretching his hand out to him, “Jesse, good luck to you and I will see you soon.”
They shook hands and Jesse thanked the doctor again, “Thanks so much doc.”
“Call me with any issues you may have. You have my number and we will see you at follow up if not before.”
They finished their Good Byes and then Jesse just waited again. It was an hour later, Jesse had his signed discharge papers and some new pain med prescriptions in his hands when Shawn wheeled into the room, followed by Trish.
“Hey!” Shawn wheeled over to the bed.
Trish greeted Jesse with a hug. He had a bag packed with all his things in it.
Shawn asked, “Are you ready to go?”
Jesse nodded and grabbed his crutches, sliding himself off the bed and getting a good stance, gripping his crutch handles tight and then making his way out of the room he had inhabited for the past few weeks.
Jesse had already said his Good Bye with all the staff that morning, also Jeremy who had become a good friend over the last couple of weeks of intense Physical Therapy but who he would see again for his future appointments. Now when Jesse made his way by the nurse’s station he was sent off with Get well wishes and “See you again soon” comments. In passing he smiled and said his Good Bye’s once more.
Trish had parked the car right outside the entrance door in a “Patient pick up and drop off” zone and as she approached her car and unlocked it, she stashed Jesse’s bag into the back seat, then holding the passenger’s door open for him. Shawn and Trish watched as he slowly let himself down into the car and then positioned the crutches next to him. He was still hurting quite a bit but the pain medications made his pain manageable. He still pressed his lips together now and was relieved when he was settled in the car.
It was easier for Shawn to transfer into the back seat and Trish stashed his TiLite into the trunk and eventually slid into the driver’s seat. Shawn pulled his legs over into the car and settled into the back seat, then pulling the door shut.
Trish looked over at Jesse who sat with his head resting on the seat and smiling weakly, “Are you ready to go home?”
He nodded silently. It was still difficult for Shawn to watch Jesse suffer with the pain and the struggle of moving around now but he kept reminding himself that Jesse was doing fine and he would be all right.
Jesse didn’t say much as they made their way through town and he just looked out the window and watched the city and life outside go by. For over three months he had been shut out of life and it was strange for him to see everything again. When back in August he had left to go down to Oregon in his truck, it had been a hot day with clear blue skies and everything was green and summer was in full swing. Now the trees were mostly without leaves, some frost on them, and the sky grey and dreary and just as they made their way out of town there were snow flurries. Thanksgiving was two weeks away.
Trish remarked excitedly, “Look at that, it is snowing.”
Shawn replied, “It is only November, that’s crazy.”
Jesse sat quietly in the front seat and looked out the window, thinking of Kristy. He couldn’t wait to see her again and the plan was for him to meet her at the airport when she would get back. Jesse couldn’t drive yet and wouldn’t be able to for a while still. At this time he depended on Trish, Uncle Randy and his cousins to shuttle him around. About four weeks earlier Danny and Colby had picked up his truck from Oregon with all his belongings and had brought everything back home for Jesse.
Trish pulled Jesse out of his thoughts, “I can’t believe it is almost Thanksgiving.”
He still didn’t say anything but Shawn added, “I know, it is weird.”
When they pulled up into the front yard of the house Jesse was happy to see his pick-up parked in front of the house. With the snow flurries coming down harder now the truck had already been covered with a thin blanket of snow.
Trish parked close to the ramp as always, so Shawn wouldn’t have to make his way across the bumpy ground too far and now she also had Jesse, who was still careful on his crutches and couldn’t really deal with uneven ground.
As Jesse followed Shawn up the ramp he glanced over at his truck, longing to be driving again soon. Trish was at the door already holding it open for Shawn, who wheeled over the threshold quickly and Jesse following slow but steady.
He glanced up at Trish with a smile, “Thanks Trish.”
She smiled back, “Of course.”
Once inside Trish laughed, “Am I going to get paid double now to take care of two people?”
Jesse had made his way into the living room and let himself down on the couch with a low laugh, “I didn’t think you were still working for us.”
With a smile Trish dropped her purse and went back outside to get Jesse’s bag out of her car. As she carried everything inside, she turned around at the front door and looked out into the front yard. Even her car had already collected a thin snowy blanket in just a few short moments. Snow in November was unusual but the weather forecasters had predicted a colder winter this year with more snow, especially in the mountains.
Shawn had parked in his usual spot in the living room and after Trish had closed the door and had set Jesse’s bag down she joined them, plopping into the armchair next to Shawn.
Jesse was leaning back on the couch, sighing, “Man, I am glad to be home.”
Shawn had his hands resting in his lap and looked over at his brother, “Well, I am glad to have you home again.”
He lowered his eyes thinking about the moment and Jesse smiled, “Good, because things are going to change around here again.”
When Shawn looked up in surprise Jesse added, “Noootttt…”
That evening Uncle Randy and his girlfriend Marcy, Ceci and her fiancé, Colby and Danny with their girlfriends showed up with Pizza to celebrate Jesse’s homecoming. Jesse was laid out on the couch all night. He would still have to take it easy and everyone was chatting happily in the living room.
Trish was in the kitchen to get another drink for herself. She was just pouring the Vodka into her glass when Shawn came wheeling into the kitchen and softly slapped her on her butt. She turned around in surprise and he smiled at her. He looked happy and he also had had a couple of beers already. He held his hand out to her and when she took it he pulled her down onto his lap and without hesitation he kissed her hard right then and there. Trish held on around Shawn’s neck and let him kiss her. His hands ran up and down her back and when she finally freed herself from his kissing he held her in front of him and said with a little slur, “I wish we could just go the bedroom right now. I am hungry!”
Trish knew that he was buzzing with the beer running through his blood and she smiled, “Hungry? We had Pizza!”
Shawn grinned, “Not that kind of hungry. I am hungry for you.”
Trish looked down a bit embarrassed, “Well, you will just have to wait for dessert.”
His eyes were shiny and his face was warm as she let her hand touch his cheek and he mumbled, “I don’t want to wait.”
He pulled her in again and kissed her demandingly. Trish enjoyed his attention but she didn’t want to sneak off right at that time with everyone there and especially Jesse back home.
It didn’t feel right and she somewhat stopped Shawn, “Baby, you have no choice and we also have to make sure Jesse is all right tonight.”
Shawn just nodded and lowly he said, “I love you Trish!”
She smiled, “I love you too.”
The evening was good with everyone happy for Jesse to be home again. Jesse caught himself thinking about Kristy a lot during the evening, seeing everyone with their significant others except for him. So much he was looking forward to seeing her soon. He was anticipating that seeing Kristy again would hopefully lead to him and her picking up where they had left off and turn into something really good.
When everyone was gone that night, Jesse was tired. Before his arrival Trish had cleaned his room, put on new sheets and had made everything look nice. As he made his way into his room Shawn came up behind him and Jesse slowly sat down on his bed.
Shawn stopped in the room and looked around for a moment until his eyes rested on Jesse, “Trish cleaned up your room.”
“I appreciate it a lot. She’s great.”
Shawn looked down and nodded. He felt the alcohol working in his blood stream as he had not drank anything for weeks. His legs had been spastic all night but he had mostly ignored them and besides placing his feet back on the foot rest here and there when they had jumped off he had not paid his legs much attention.
Jesse kept his eyes on his brother and stated, “Everything is going good for us now, Shawn. We will be all right.”
Shawn nodded and even though his vision was blurry he tried to focus on Jesse and said, “I don’t know what I would have done without you Jesse.”
Jesse looked down on his leg and then back up at Shawn, “Well, you are not without me and you won’t be without me.”
Shawn swallowed, “You have been there for me in my darkest times and I can never make it up to you. I couldn’t ask for a better brother than you.”
Jesse smiled and said lowly, “I can say the same thing about you. You have been there for me through these last couple of months and I know there was not one day when you didn’t come to the hospital, not one day, Shawn. We are even now. We did what we had to do, be there for each other when things are crappy and when things just seem really bad. Because we have each other we made it through those rough patches in our lives and I can’t ask for a better brother than you either. I am looking forward to the things that we will still do together and the things we will do with two awesome women by our side.”
Shawn nodded and even though he would have loved to hug his brother it wasn’t really possible at this time, he sitting in the wheelchair and Jesse not able to stand without his crutches for now.
Jesse kept his eyes on Shawn and he wheeled up to the bed and they touched their hands in a bro shake.
Shawn then asked, “Are you going to be O.K. getting in bed and stuff?”
Jesse nodded, “Yeah, I can make it. You mean you guys didn’t install a call button in here so I can call Nurse Trish when I need to.”
They laughed and Shawn wheeled out saying, “Good Night man.”
When Jesse was already in bed it knocked and Trish peeked around the door.
Jesse held himself up in bed, “Trish, what’s up?”
“I just wanted to tell you Good Night. We are so glad to have you home.”
“I am glad to.”
“If you need anything, call me or Shawn.”
“I think I am all right. Thanks for everything and for getting my room all nice and ready.”
“You are welcome. Good Night Jesse.”
“Good Night Trish.”
When he laid back down his thoughts drifted back to the night Trish had snuck in his room and for a moment he just smiled about it and he remembered how it had been a nice encounter but it wasn’t meant to be and now he was perfectly fine with the way things had developed over the past couple of months. Trish was meant to be in Shawn’s life and no one else’s.
When Trish came into the bedroom, Shawn was already sleeping. The initial hunger he had craved in the kitchen earlier had submitted to the alcohol and Shawn was sleeping deeply, even snoring a bit as she crawled into bed next to him.
She still moved close to him and catching the familiar scent of his cologne mixed a little with the beer made her smile nonetheless and the warmth of his body drew her in as she draped the blanket over both of them while outside the snow had already melted and turned into rain drumming on the roof of the house now. Her eyes travelled over to the silhouette of the TiLite and she smiled picturing Shawn in it.