Written By: Tammy Ferebee
I squeeze her trembling hand tightly. Though my body wants to shake just as much as hers is, I compose myself. I hide my nerves. I remain strong for my love. My strength is what’s going to get her through this.
The double doors swing open, and a cold draft forces us both to shutter. We’ve been here four times already. Every time we’ve come, we’ve been reminded not to hold our breaths; to breathe normally. We never do so until we’re reminded to.
Mentally I prepare for a foul odor to escape the bright white room when the doors part, but there’s nothing foul about it. There’s a light freshness that fills the air that does absolutely nothing to make this experience even a little less heavy.
“We’re ready for you guys,” he expresses in a low voice. His lab coat just as white as the surrounding walls.
We take slow steps towards a covered stretcher positioned in the middle of the room. I can hear the short breaths escaping her. Her chest movements are visible, and that panic that I hate to see is quickly starting to escape her.
I release her hand and wrap my arm around her. “I’m right here, baby,” I whisper in her ear. “Every step, I’m taking with you.”
Her voice so fragile. So light and childlike in this moment. “This never gets easier.” She tells me, “I’m so scared, Lawrence.”
As she rests her head against my galloping heart, I admit, “Me too.”
“Take a deep breath.”
As always, we do as we’re told. It never helps, but we never fail to follow his instructions.
Slowly he pulls the crisp white sheet back, only enough to reveal the face of this unclaimed Jane Doe.
Instantly, we both release loud sighs of relief. My wife cries into her palms.
“That’s not her,” I tell him.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” I express positively. “That’s not my sister in law.”
As he wheels that young lady’s lifeless body away, I wrap Theresa in my arms. I kiss the top of her head. I offer comfort that will always be needed yet will never be enough.
“Where is she?” Theresa cries out.
“I don’t know, baby. But, she’s out there. She’s still out there, and we’re never going to stop looking. We’re never going to give up hope.”