CHAPTER THREE - DENIAL
He remembered it so well. The nurses took blood from him, made him remove his shirt and listen to his heart with a stethoscope. Was it all really necessary?
Yes, he remembered it well. Brian was on the verge of putting on his shirt when a glum doctor came in, followed by two RN's. Two. I mean, how many people does it take to tell someone they have three months to live? What kind of heartless person walks up to you, looks you in the eye with utmost sincerity, places not just one, but two compassionate hands on your shoulders and says to you in a very serious manner, "Mr. Littrell, I'm sorry sir, you're dying."
At first, Brian smiled, waiting briefly for him to say, "Only kidding." But he returned the glare and his entire being shot straight to hell. Looking at him, as if to say, "You're serious, aren't you?"
"No," Brian said in disbelief, sliding off the counter top. "Don't kid with me like that."
"Mr. Littrell, we wouldn't joke about something like that-,"
"NO!" Brian screamed, trying to push past the nurses.
"I can't be dying! I'm NOT dying!" he screamed, refusing to believe his fate.
"Mr. Littrell, if you just calm down…" an RN said, trying to gently push him back into the room.
"No! Get away from me! Get away from me, get your hands off! I'm not dying!" he cried, trucking his way through the nurses and running through the hall screaming Kevin's name.
It's amazing how words can effect a person's life. Just before he knew, he was fine. Now, he was unyieldingly crying in Kevin's passenger seat.
Clutched in his hands were his printed medical files, ink running from tears.
"Why God, why? Why me? I'm not dying…no, I'm not dying…" he chanted softly, then he'd trail off into tears again.
Kevin hadn't said a word; he was too depressed to cry. Anyway, what could he say to him, you'll be okay when he won't? You're going to live when he wasn't?
From the far corner of his eyes, he sadly watched him crying; wondering what he was thinking, going through. How would you feel if your life were suddenly limited? Not too damn good.
"Why God, why?" he sulked, staring up at the roof of the car.
Kevin felt his bottom lip quiver. He couldn't take this anymore, he felt heartless if he didn't cry, yet un-supportive if he did.
"Oh, god…I can't… I just can't…" he said, pulling over to the side of the road. He unleashed his seatbelt and threw his massive arms around Brian's trembling body.
Johnny was the first to know. Kevin called him and told him the devastating news, saying, " I don't know how else to tell you this Johnny…Brian and I just came back from the hospital and we just found out he's dying."
Dying. Brian suddenly hated that word with a passion. Was he ever sick of crying-laying on Kevin's couch with his reddened cheeks and blood shot eyes. The salt from his tears had irritated his eyes something terrible, and his hair was going every which way except where it was supposed to be.
Just in front of the couch lay the printed copy of his medical files, stating his first and last operations, his conditions after each, when he went in, how he recovered. Then the most recent operation, which mind you, wasn't too long ago. At the very bottom line, said: Patient Brian Littrell issued three months to live. If that. Brian was so confused, he didn't know what to do, what to think, where to start. What did he want to do-accomplish in three months? If that. He had no clue what Johnny was saying to Kevin and he didn't care.
"I dunno Johnny, I dunno," Kevin answered, brushing tears from his eyes. "I gotta go call the others…let them know…okay Johnny. Bye"
Very brief conversation. The night was wretched. It grew even more and more ugly as the night wore on and he was there to listen to Kevin's conversations with the guys.
It killed him to hear the way Howie begun to deny Kevin's message the minute he told him that Brian was dying. He fell silent and together he and Kevin cried more.
Nick cried. Even AJ cried, after also refusing to believe Kevin. Brian didn't speak to any of them, he didn't know what to do. Every minute he savoured as his last, ever hour he felt his life begin to shorten, when a few hours ago he felt absolute that he was fine.
In a way, Brian was angry with himself. How could he not know he was dying? What were the fans to say when they found out? How could he be as so dumb to not know he was dying? That cough last night…wasn't an ordinary cough, I mean he hacked up blood and he didn't even know! Wasn't that signalling something unjust?
When Kevin had hung up from his very last phone call, he looked sadly upon Brian's devastated body, placed a loving hand on his knee and said, "You'll be okay, Rok."
That really made Brian upset. He narrowed his brows and jumped up from the couch, glaring angrily at Kevin.
"How do you know that?! You're not the one dying!" he screamed, tears upsetting his vision once again.
Kevin gaped at him, a little hurt by his response, and out of character behavior.
Upset with himself, he turned around and marched out of Kevin's house and drove home in uncontrollable fury.
He couldn't say much of what was to come. So many things he had to deal with, the night was still young and when he got home, again there was a message on his machine requesting that he come to the hospital tomorrow.
He had played the message at least twenty times, listening to the voice of Dr. St. Clair, the voice of the doctor that had lied and promised him health. Each time he heard the message he begun to get infuriated with her.
But she wasn't actually to blame, who was? He couldn't be mad at her. Confused as to what he should be, he begun to cry all over again. This was a nightmare, he was still dreaming. When he'd get up in the morning this would all be over, he wasn't dying.
The phone rang.
Uncertain as to whom it was, he picked up, but didn't say anything.
"Hello?" the vague voice called worriedly.
It was Nick. His best friend, whom in three months he'd be leaving behind, according to the doctors.
Again, his eyes filled to capacity with tears and his lip quivered at the thought of him dying as he sat there on the phone with Nick, wasting time. Fighting back the tears, he begun to breathe hard, it was impossible for Nick not to hear him stifling.
"Brian?" Nick called confused; he was hearing him crying softly but was getting no response. By the tone of his voice Nick had done some heavy duty crying before he called.
Brian's hand trembled, as he was barely able to support the phone to his ear. Filled with rage, he angrily clicked off with Nick, waited a few seconds before clicking on again to leave the line busy. He then went around his house ripping every phone jack out of the wall before he clumsily made his way upstairs, collapsed in his bed and cried himself to sleep.
The hospital, which Brian so hesitantly came to, was giving him an uncomfortable morbid sense. When he got up that morning, like most people, he was somewhat reality disorientated, but the first thing he remembered was that he was dying, and depression quickly set in. It's an awful feeling to wake up in the morning and be immediately depressed because the first of your ninety-minute cycle is that you're dying.
That a day had gone from your life that cannot be reiterated, any wrongs you made that day cannot be set right. This, whole--though not yet physically hurtful, he felt a trifling emotional change that was too early to detect, but noticable enough to be considered an existance.
Brian was not alone sitting in some room at the hospital on a cool black leather couch with his head hung. The guys as well as Johnny was with him, sitting in a semi circle around an overhead projector. Johnny had his hand on Brian's back patting him encouragingly, but it obviously wasn't working. Brian didn't want to be there, especially since he knew what to expect.
"Brian, you okay?" Johnny asked softly, sadly watching him with his arms around his body comforting himself. He shrugged, rubbing his arms.
This was in actuality hurting Johnny something awful. He had to do a majority of the dirty work, telling the public that Brian would be dead in probably less than three months, and being there with him and the boys, trying to keep a straight face when silently, he was overflowing with sadness.
Not too long afterward, Dr. St. Clair emerged looking tired as ever and took her place at head of the room to consult with the boys. This was the second hardest part of her job, discussing the patient's condition with the patient himself. The purpose of this seminar was basically to instruct the others on what to do, and what Brian should expect.
Within the first few minutes of starting the room went black and on an overhead, X-rayed pictures of Brian's heart was displayed around the room in an unusual manner. The first picture was what his heart looked like now, with a dime-sized hole in it. In the second picture, the hole had augmented about a fourth more the previous size and as she continued to lecture and put up more pictures, Brian's emotional condition increased as well. By next week, the hole was about the size of small nickel.
"By next month, it'll look like this," St. Clair stated, putting up yet another digitally animated picture on the overhead.
The hole by then would be the size of a quarter.
Though they could not see his face, Brian looked on around the room at the pictures of his heart within the next week or so. He started at one corner at what it looked like now, and gradually shifted his eyes to the next picture, then so on till the last.
He wanted to cry again. He didn't want to look but his eyes were peeled to the pictures. He couldn't take this, the size of the monstrous hole in his heart that was to appear a few weeks later scared him, he couldn't believe he'd live that long with a hole that big. What the hell was causing it to expand he didn't know, and didn't want to know.
He covered his face with his hands and fought tears again. Johnny, who sat intrigued at the pictures with his legs lapped, glanced over at him, startled to see him crying and sat up quickly.
"Brian, are you okay?" he whispered, placing an influenced hand on his back again.
"Turn it off. Make her turn it off, I don't want to see anymore," he cried softly, voice muffled by his hands.
Without hesitation, he signalled at Dr. St. Clair through the dim light the projector was producing and asked her to turn it off. She did, a little upset to see him crying so much, though she'd dealt with situations like this before.
The lights flickered on and Brian was slumped over in his chair crying in his hands, Johnny trying to comfort him. The guys were astounded to see him that way because the lights were off they didn't even notice he was crying. Kevin went to him quickly and tried to help, but Brian looked into his face with pleading eyes and simply requested to go home.
"All right," Kevin broke, allowing Johnny to escort him up.
"I'll be out in a minute, okay guys?" he said to them, turning towards Dr. St. Clair who was sheepishly removing the pictures from the overhead.
"Dr. St. Clair?" he called, lightly placing a hand on her shoulder.
She turned around surprised, thinking everyone had left. She smiled contentedly that it was him and introduced herself on first name basis.
"You can call me Patricia," she permitted.
"I'm sorry about this, but I couldn't stand to see him like that," Kevin admitted to her. "I'm sorry. I just wanna say thank you…Dr.St.Clair, um Patricia, for everything you've done to help him… I know you can't save him now but I really appreciate it…" he said quickly, removing a tear from his eye.
Admiring his sensitivity, she had none to do but offer him solace. She held out her arms invitingly and Kevin walked into them, again stifling.
"Thank you so much."
"It'll be okay. I've been through many situations like this before. The best thing you can do is play it off like nothing's happened. Allow him to lead a normal life, depression will only make him worst," she informed, rubbing his back.
Kevin received a somewhat reassuring feeling from her, that eventually everything would turn for the better, as she explained that if he had any questions, she'd be there.
He pulled back away from her and kissed her cheek in gratitude. "For your support," he said before turning to leave.
Finally describing to Brian what he had to go through put him through hell. Anytime they tried he'd just break down in tears and refuse to hear anymore. Alas, they gave up and allowed him to 'roll with the punches'.
He shortened his life a week later purposely, not because of hate or anger, but confusion.
Two days after the episode at the hospital, Brian was given a nurse to come and administer Heart Med intravenously…a medication they'd put him on to supposedly slow down the hole's progression.
Unaware of the side effects or his allergic reaction, he was on it for a week when one morning he awoke and suddenly changed his mind.
Like every morning since he found out he was dying, he got up depressed and headed for the shower. This morning he rolled off his pillow and sat up, not noticing the clumps of hair left behind on his pillow.
He stiffly made his way to the bathroom rubbing his reddened forearm with a small puncture mark on it, where every other day a tube was shoved up it to administer the Heart Med. He had been on it for a week now. He glanced in the mirror at his unruly hair and ran his fingers through it to try and calm it a bit. But when he removed his hand he noticed a majority of his hair had come off in his fingers.
"What the-?" he asked himself, narrowing his brows and wiping it off on his shorts.
Once again he ran his sweaty palms through his hair but again when he removed it his hair was sticking to his hands. He gaped in horror at the amounts of hair that had rubbed off in his hand.
"Oh god, no…" he prayed, grabbing a handful of hair in his left hand and giving it a friendly tug.
A few strands came off easily but the others held fast to his scalp. Oh god yes, his hair was falling out.
"NOOOOO!" he screamed, jolting downstairs to call Kevin.
He paced nervously back and fourth across his living room waiting for Kevin to pick up. Still he ran his hands through his hair knowing that he was purposely pulling more and more out but he couldn't believe it.
"Hello?" Kevin answered tiredly.
"Kevin? I want off this thing now, this thing is making my hair fall out, I don't care what you say, I want off it now…" he demanded.
"But, Brian…" Kevin started, "All right. I'll see what I can do."
Kevin knew well within his heart while driving over to the hospital to cancel Brian's Heart Med. that him being off this medication was reducing his chances of living longer than three months. But Brian was dying, and he only saw it as respecting a dying man's last wishes-which was basically the exact opposite of what Dr. St. Clair told him to do. But when he had seen the amount of hair that fell into his hands from Brian's house that morning, fear struck him and he took it as one more thing that was being taken away from Brian.
Arriving at the hospital, he marched up to the front desk and demanded to see Dr. St. Clair if she wasn't busy. He hadn't a sole with him and he didn't care who recognized him, as he nervously tapped his foot awaiting Dr. St. Clair's arrival. Sure enough she showed up and he was pissed as ever.
"Look at this," Kevin instructed, dropping Brian's deceased hair to the tiled floor. "This is Brian's hair. That stuff you've got him on, Heart Med.? It's making it fall out, he isn't on friggin' chemotherapy. He wants off and I want him off," he growled.
"But Kevin, that 'stuff' is reducing the hole in his heart and increasing his chances to live longer! You can't just come in here and…" she stopped to maintain her temper, though she wanted to bitch back at him she couldn't, not here anyway.
"Whatever, I don't care. Just get him off!" he warned, narrowing his brows and turning to leave.
"Kevin, you're doing exactly what I told you not to do. This is only a minor problem, he might be allergic! If you continue to act up anytime he thinks it's a problem you'll only excite him more, stop acting like something's wrong!" she called after him.
Kevin turned around abruptly and marched back up to her. If he weren't so attracted to her he'd knock her out.
"So are you saying I'm affiliated with the problem?"
"YOU lied to him!" he screamed angrily, pointing a finger of blame at her when empathizing 'you'. She jumped back startled at his actions.
"Why should he believe anything you have to say? You promised him health, that's why he's dying now, huh? You lied to him! I don't give a damn about what you have to say, just get him off!"
With that, he turned around again and stormed out to his car.
She released a sigh of anguish and flicked him off, she didn't care who saw that. Kevin was being stubborn, he'd just unconsciously shortened his cousin's life by God knows how much.