Luke called Thom Benoit back. Although he trusted Margaret, she couldn’t be there with Emily around the clock and he didn’t want her to take the baby to her home, wherever that was. He repeated what the chaplain had said.
“Can you come here to stay with the baby while I’m gone? Her nanny is here and knows her routine. She’ll be here every day. But I can’t expect her to stay overnight. I can leave right away if I know you’ll be here.”
“Let me talk to my wife,” he said.
Luke heard mumbling in the background.
“Gretchen says we’ll leave now. What’s your address?”
Relief flooded over him. Her parents would come through. After ending that call, he made the second call to the chaplain who said to sit tight, she’d get back to him with his flight information.
Margaret came out with the baby. “Are you okay?” she asked.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said.
“Tell me what the chaplain said.”
He detailed all he could remember.
“Okay, you’re going on a trip, so you have to pack. Take enough for a couple of days at least. Remember, one foot in front of the other. You don’t even know what time your flight leaves yet so take a deep breath.”
“Bridget’s parents will be here in an hour,” he said. “I’ll leave as soon as I hear from the chaplain.”
The chaplain called within the hour. A car would come from Saint John’s Parish and pick Luke up to take him to the airport in New Orleans. He’d get a direct flight to New York from there, and then he’d leave for Germany at eleven p.m. A car would take him right to the hospital after an eleven-hour flight. They could not prepare him for what he’d learn upon arrival.
A chaplain met him at the intensive care unit.
“I’m Lieutenant Judy Cornish, Navy Nurse Corps Chaplain. We spoke on the phone. You’re Mr. Esprit?”
“Yes,” Luke said, on the edge of breaking down. The sounds of the monitors beeping and the alarms going off, laughter coming from a room along with cries of pain, the crying and shouting, it was almost too much for him.
She led him to a dark room with glass windows looking out into the unit.
“Are you exhausted?” she asked, pointing to a chair. He sat down and she remained standing.
“I’m too numb to be tired.”
“Yes. I ordered coffee and a breakfast sandwich for you. McDonald’s.”
He glanced at the familiar Egg McMuffin wrapper and smiled, not touching it. He wasn’t able to eat. On the plane they’d offered food and his gorge rose. Until he knew her condition, he would not eat. “We don’t even have a McDonald’s in our town.”
“Lieutenant Benoit’s nurse is going to come to talk to you before you go in.”
“Thank you,” he said.
Nodding her head, she left the room. She’d taken care of every detail. They treated him like how he imagined VIP would be treated. It was in return for Bridget’s well-being.
A young nurse in blue scrubs, her hair covered, wearing a yellow cover gown with a mask dangling around her neck tapped on the door.
“Mr. Esprit? I’m Donna Haines. I’m Bridget’s nurse while she’s here in our unit. Can I sit down?”
“Yes,” he said, frowning. Why was she asking him?
“I wanted to talk to you about Bridget’s condition. The chaplains don’t have the information to say anything regarding patients’ injuries to families. They don’t have access to charts, so they wouldn’t know the details.”
“I didn’t expect her to tell me anything. I was afraid to hear,” he replied.