Chapter 40 – I Can Love You Like That

Fei lay listlessly as his brain coordinated with his eyes.  His mind was on auto-mode.   Upon first sight, he questioned where he was.  The answer came when he turned his eyeballs to the right and saw the familiar window curtains of his bedroom in Redmond.  Then he noticed there were people looking down at him.  He turned his eyeballs slowly around the circle of faces above him.  He wondered why they were all looking at him with such solemn faces, at the same time wondering what they were doing in his room.  Then he felt a familiar touch of a woman’s hand and heard her familiar voice.  And then there was another familiar voice of a child.

Meanwhile, Lemon-B was pushing against her mother so she could get closer to her father.  Quin sat the baby on the bed close to Fei. “You want to sit near Daddy, is it?”

Turning his head to the left, with what little strength he had left in him, he lifted his hand to touch the arm of the person whom he knew was the love of his life.  Looking into her eyes, he gave a weakened smiled and managed to utter.  “Quin!”

Then Lemon-B watched as her father closed his eyes and went to dreamland once again.  She knew that wasn’t enough to convince everyone that her father got his memory back.  So with a strong push off her bottom, she yanked forward and gave her father a baby tap on his chest with both her arms, calling him at the same time.  It was such a sudden movement that Quin had to pull her back.  That was when Fei opened his eyes again.  He touched the baby’s cheeks.  “Lemon-B, did you just call Daddy?”

This time Lemon-B spoke out loud and clear so everyone could hear her excitment.  “Da Da!”
Fei smiled with his last exertion of energy before he closed his eyes again.  This time, his daughter gave him the okay to take a nap.  But nobody expected he would nap for the next three days and three nights.

When Fei finally woke up from his sleep, it was 3 am in the morning.  Though the house was cold on this December morning, he was kept warm underneath the tugged duvet.  The night lamp next to him was on.  Feeling weak all over his body, he wondered if someone had drained all the protein from every muscle in his body.  But of course, he didn’t know he hadn’t eaten for three whole days.  He also didn’t know Quin had tried to wake him up during the last three days to eat. But he would only groan and moan without opening his eyes and so Quin gave up trying.  As long as she could see and hear him breathing, she just let him be.  He literally slept like a newborn baby, the plus side was he didn’t need to be fed.  Quin was beginning to feel hopeful and positive again.  She even teased with Bui Yee on the second day that it was a good thing Fei didn’t need his diapers changed either.

Now that he was fully awake, with whatever ounces of energy that was left in his body, he pulled himself up to a sitting position and the duvet fell from his shoulders.  He looked to his left and the bed was empty.  He wondered where his wife was.  And when he turned his head, he spotted her in the armchair next to the baby’s crib.  He watched silently as Quin stirred sleepily to put her body in a more comfortable position, but Fei knew no matter which position she was cooped up in, she wouldn’t be comfortable.

Fei tried to think of the reason why his wife was sleeping in the armchair instead of with him in bed.  That was when he remembered waking up in the hospital and being flown back home.  He remembered holding her daughter high in the air and he remembered how her tiny hands smacked him just before his eyes were filled with streaks of light.  He also remembered how the scale-like images flashed before him.  Suddenly, his memories shifted to the horrific scenes of the World Trade Center which the world knew as September 11th.  But because Fei didn’t know that, his entire body grew tense as he looked at his wife from across.  He couldn’t help but wondered whether he was dreaming or if he was in Heaven.    Coming to his own conclusion that he was in the latter place, fear entered his heart and tears started to form in his eyes.  He opened his mouth wanting to call her name but was not able to utter a sound due to his emotions.  With a spurt of panic, he kept moving his jaw muscles repeatedly and was finally able to vibrate his vocal chord.

“Quin!”

Instantly, Quin woke to the sound of her husband’s voice.  She sat up in the armchair immediately.    It took her a few seconds to realize Fei was awake and sitting upright looking straight at her.  She quickly scrambled over to their bed to be next to him.

“You’re awake!”  Relief was imminent in her voice as she pulled him into her embrace.  Holding him tight, she could feel his shivering body.   “Oh Fei, you are freezing!”  She quickly pulled the duvet over his shoulders and wrapped herself with him to give him some of her body heat. 

Fei was now convinced that he was alive and the warmth from his wife’s body proved it.  Though he was weak, he managed to put his arms around her and was reluctant to let go when Quin had to pull herself back to look him in the eyes.

“You are shaking!” Quin said with concern when she felt his cold arms and then his cold feet.  She knew her husband was back by the way he was looking at her and holding her, yet she wondered how much of his memory he was able to retain.  “You must be hungry!”

“Yeah, for once our role is reversed.”  He smiled at her.  “I’m the hungry one now!”

Quin smiled because she was absolutely, positively, certain that her husband’s memory was back because he was able to remember and tease her.  Quin was always the hungry one, it was only know to him as their little secret.

While her mother was helping her father put on his socks and get dressed into his night-coat to go downstairs for food, Lemon-B decided she wanted a piece of the excitement as well.  After all, she was the reason her father and his colleagues were alive.  So she quietly sat herself up in her crib like she had been practicing over the last week.  Perhaps she knew her father was way too weak to pick her up from her crib this time, so she decided to call on someone else for the first time.

“Ma Ma!”

There was no way Quin could have missed hearing that.  She had been trying to teach her daughter to say ‘Ma’ since Lemon-B started making sounds to mimic words two months ago.  But every time Quin repeated ‘Ma Ma’, she would say anything and everything but that.  But this morning, her daughter called her for the first time and her day couldn’t have begun better than this.  Before the sun was up, Quin had gotten her double shot of happiness.  She wouldn’t need coffee to start her day for sure.

Quin came to the crib and carried her daughter.  “Say that again, Lemon-B.”

“Ma!”

Quin was elated and showered her daughter with kisses all over her face.  With Lemon-B in one arm and Fei holding her other arm, they went downstairs to have their first meal of the day as one happy family again.
“There goes your last free day before Christmas!”  Quin wrote on the calendar that was already filled up with appointments for Fei.  She had to search for an empty spot to write the last meeting for him just before Christmas.  Then she pointed to her husband who happened to lower the newspaper he was reading so he could acknowledge what she said.  “No more!  You’re not allowed to take anymore meeting or appointments until after the new year!”

Fei shrugged with a smile and went back to his reading.

“Your husband is a smart man!”  Bui Yee chided Quin.  “The FBI needs his expertise!  How else are they going to catch all those responsible for the attack?”

“But he just got better!” Quin wanted to protect her husband.  “And it’s Christmas!  And we have guests coming soon.”

“You don’t have to worry about your brother and Ah Yuk, we’ll take care of them!”  Mr. Mo added.

“And we’ll take care of Chi Shan and Ah Man!”  Chin Chin added.  She gave Nathaniel a pat on the back.  “He’s a good driver, you don’t have to worry.  We’ll pick them up from the airport when we get back from Vancouver.”

“But who is going to take care of me?”  Quin gave a playful pout because she knew she had been out-voted in this conversation.

There was a moment of silence as everyone glanced around to see if Fei would answer Quin’s question.  When he didn’t even glance away from his newspaer, Bui Yee and Chin Chin grinned at each other and decided to spice up their conversation.

“Aaron will!”  They both said out loud.
The newspaper landed on the dining table at the same time Quin gave the women the slam dunk.  “Aaron?”  Fei furrowed his brow and turned to Quin. “Who is Aaron?”

“You know!  Aaron!  Don’t you remember?”  Quin asked with concern for his lack of memory.  “He was here the day you came home from the hospital.”

“The one you almost wanted to punch,” Bui Yee continued.  She nudged Quin with her elbow with a grin.  “Fei scared Aaron away, didn’t he?  He used to come visit every weekend, but he hasn’t since.”

Though Quin brushed Bui Yee off by saying he was busy at the university, Fei remembered his wife mentioning this name many, many moons ago when he was still living at the academy in Quantico.  He now wondered if this was the same Aaron.

“I thought Aaron was Bui Yee’s nephew!”

Quin’s eyes grew playful, her mouth formed an ‘O’ shape as she shook her head.

“You mean he is the Aaron who …..” Fei didn’t need to finish his sentence when he saw Quin nodding her head.  Then he gave her the look that said it all, the one that made his eyebrows almost looked like the letter ‘V’ and his eyes were sharp as darts.

Immediately, Bui Yee and Chin Chin laughed and gave each other a high five.  Goal achieved!  They just wanted to get a reaction from Fei, the jealous look for Quin that he seldom expressed.

“He’s coming here for Christmas?”  Fei asked Quin who nodded with pretend fear.

“Better tighten your hold on your wife!”  Bui Yee couldn’t resist.

“Don’t listen to them!” Mr. Mo assured his son-in-law by putting his arms around Fei.  “We were more worried that you would stop loving Quin when you couldn’t remember her and Lemon-B.  Quin would never leave you.  In fact, she was the one who wouldn’t give up looking for you.”

Fei pulled his wife in and gave her shoulders a squeeze.  Then he told her something that she didn’t know was possible in coma patients.  “I never stopped loving you even in my coma.  I kept dreaming about you all the time but they felt like nightmares because I couldn’t get to you.  It was like having nightmares forever.  You were always there in my dreams, you and Lemon-B!”

Fei could tell Quin was touched by looking at her sparkling eyes.  He then whispered into her ear.  “I don’t think I could ever stop loving you!” 

Everyone around the table saw and heard the intimate gesture and they were awed by his confession of love, especially the two women.

Just to show he was his true self again, he said to Bui Yee.  “If he is not your nephew, he better not try anything funny when he is here!  I might not be able to hold back this time.”

Though everyone laughed, Quin wasn’t sure if he meant what he said.  Could Fei be serious and jealous at the same time?

During one of Fei’s therapy sessions, he was shown pictures of survivors who claimed to be helped by a young Asian man on September 11.  He recognized the old man who found his wallet.  He also remembered the man was a street vendor he was buying coffee from on that fateful day.  There were a few others he remembered as well.

“Just out of curiosity, what made you run the other direction?”  Dr. Anderson asked.  “All of these people you recognized said that you were asking them to run the opposite way, away from the main crowd.”

Fei thought for a moment.  He was getting better at remembering the scenes of that horrific morning when the second plane flew above him and almost deafened him.  That was the very last image he had before he blacked out.  The doctors had explained that his brain had automatically shut down to protect the rest of his body.  They said he was one walking miracle whose brain healed on its own with minimum damaged to the body.  Most survivors who were found close to Ground Zero had to be put under medically-induced coma in order for the brain injury to heal.

“I don’t know why.  I heard a voice telling me to go the narrow alley!”

Quin’s eyes startled for she remembered Antonio’s words.  And then there was her dream. “The narrow alley!  I dreamt I saw you that night they brought Antonio over with your wallet.”

Dr. Anderson and Fei looked at Quin.  “I kept hearing these three words.  Maybe that’s why I always had this feeling you were still alive!”

“Broad is the road that leads to death and narrow is the path that leads to life!”  Dr. Anderson recited a biblical verse and jotted something down on his notepad.  “Interesting!”

Fei leaned forward to look through the photos that were scattered on the table.  He picked up each photo and searched with his eyes as if he was looking for someone in particular.

“Are you remembering something else?”  Quin noticed her husband’s frantic searching. 

“I was carrying a little boy and helping his mother,” Fei looked up at Dr. Anderson.  “Were they found?  Are they alive?”

Quin and Dr. Anderson exchanged puzzled glances with each other.  Dr. Anderson picked up the heavy binder and flipped through it.  After scanning through some pages, he turned to Fei.  “Everyone we have spoken with said you were by yourself.  No one said anything about a little boy and his mother.”

“I was with Antonio when I saw the boy was about to be trampled by the rushing crowd.  He must have seen him if he followed me.  I was carrying the boy and helping his mother because she was hurt!”  Fei was still searching for them among the photos before him.

Dr. Anderson read through Antonio’s file again but nothing was recorded about a little boy and his mother.  He looked at Quin and shook his head.  Then they both sighed.

Fei saw their solemn expressions.  “You think I made this up?  I swear!  I was carrying a little boy and helping his mother.  Otherwise, I would have followed the main crowd too!”

Quin lowered her head and kept quiet.

“You have to believe me.  I am not hallucinating.  There really was a boy and his mother!”  Fei grabbed his wife’s hand.  “Quin, you believe me, right?  Don’t send me to some mental institution!”

I Can Love You Like That – All 4 One