They’d sat in the hospital waiting room for hours struggling to keep their eyes open. By 3 a.m. it was Father Joe, Detective Meltzer, Frank Sullivan and Bryant all slouched back in their seats waiting for the final word. Everyone but Bryant. His mind was racing and his heart followed.
“Why haven’t they pronounced her dead?” Bryant finally asked out loud.
There was no response.
They were all together in the same row, watching parents drag their kids with earaches up to the receptionist then move to the other side of the room, away from the collection of serious faces.
Father Joe placed an arm around Bryant’s shoulder for comfort, but it felt more like a method of restraint.
Occasionally Meltzer would get up and pace, but otherwise there was little movement and less conversation.
Finally at 4:45 a.m., a large wooden side door opened and Dr. Scott Lipson came out wearing green scrubs and a paper mask dangling around his neck. His eyes were red from fatigue. He dragged a chair across the room and placed it directly in front of Bryant. His eyes never leaving Bryant’s.
Lipson sat down with a thud, his body finally getting some relief. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, hands clasped between his legs. He was the premier neurologist in the state and possibly the country, so when he spoke the words carried weight.
“She fought hard,” he said.
Bryant’s heart dropped. Any glimmer of hope dissipated with those words.
“She ever regain consciousness?” Bryant asked.
Lipson shook his head. “The bullet entered through the temporal lobe where all her special neuroplastic abilities were stored. Once that was gone there was nothing left to replenish.”
Bryant gazed down at the floor and sank lower in the chair. He could feel his body trembling from his core.
“We stood around a while and held hands,” Lipson said. “We cried. We prayed. We did everything and then some.”
Bryant nodded. He understood how tough it was for Lipson to come out and talk with him personally about the last moments of Margo’s life.
“I was about to pronounce her dead when a brain wave spiked on the monitor.”
Bryant looked up, his hands shaking, his eye twitching.
“It happens sometimes,” Lipson shrugged. “In extreme cases the brain sends a final message to the body. It’s over. Goodbye.”
Bryant’s torso began to shudder so hard, Father Joe had to grasp him before he fell to the waiting room floor. His eyes were already blinking away the tears.
“I pronounced her dead at 4:29 a.m.,” Lipson continued. He sounded like he wanted to finish quickly before Bryant lost all control of his emotions. “At 4:31 another brain wave spiked on my monitor. I scrutinized my equipment, even calibrated them just to be sure, but once I examined her temporal lobe . . . it was tiny and very incremental, but . . . her neurons were regenerating. I don’t know what to say. In every sense of the word I was witness to a miracle. There is no other possible explanation.”
Bryant nearly jumped out of his chair. “She’s alive?”