Trauma

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Authors: Daniel Palmer
young’s man game,” he’d say. Steam from two hot mugs of green tea fogged up the glasses on Howard’s round face, magnifying two of the kindest eyes Carrie had ever seen.
    â€œYour mom will be home in a bit, but you and I can catch up.”
    When the soup was ready, Howard sat at the table. Carrie joined him. The tea was a perfect temperature, and the soup smelled savory and delicious. Carrie had been living off cafeteria food for so long she’d all but forgotten what home cooking tasted like. She took a sip of tea.
    â€œYour hands are shaking,” her father said. “I know it’s hard to see your brother like this.”
    Carrie set her tea down. “It’s not just Adam, Dad.”
    Dad.
    The word was a safety net. It allowed Carrie to let everything out. Her eyes closed tight, a sob escaping, and tears streamed down her cheeks.
    Howard pulled his chair close and put his arms around her. “What’s going on, honey?”
    Carrie took a few ragged breaths. “Something really awful happened.…”
    It was not an easy story to tell. For most of it, Carrie struggled to get the words out. At first she cried a lot, breathing hard, short of breath, but eventually she settled and managed to tell it all.
    Howard looked impressed as Carrie recounted Beth’s surgery and the DIC episode. Details about Leon’s surgery were fuzzier, perhaps because Carrie had blocked them out, but she remembered Dr. Metcalf’s worried expression as he tried to locate the tumor.
    Howard did not flinch when Carrie revealed her mistake. His eyes held no trace of judgment. He was full of compassion when she told him about the meeting that followed and her resignation.
    Carrie could not have asked for a better confidant. Her father had spent years honing his listening skills. He had long believed that what a patient said, and how they said it, was sometimes more telling than the actual examination. These were skills that he had imparted to his daughter, and they’d been working well. But even Howard, who always seemed to know just the right thing to say, looked at a loss for words. In the prolonged silence that followed Carrie’s story, he poured them both more tea.
    â€œI’ve let everyone down,” Carrie said, an all-too-familiar tightness creeping back into her chest.
    â€œSweetheart, right now is not the time for advice or instruction. Just know I am here for you. And your mother is, too. And in a way, so is Adam. We love you, and we’ll stand by you through all of this.”
    Carrie embraced her father again, and Howard kissed the top of her head.
    â€œTell me what you need. Anything.”
    Carrie laughed because she could not believe what she was about to ask.
    â€œWith my student loans and no income, I just don’t have the money to afford my apartment. Not without a job.”
    Howard nodded. “I can lend you whatever you need. Mom and I can cover your rent for a while.”
    Carrie shook off that idea. “Some doctor I turned out to be. I’m twenty-nine years old and I need my parents to pay my rent. No, thank you.”
    â€œDon’t let pride get in your way. Think of it as a loan.”
    Carrie tossed her hands in the air. “It’s not pride. It’s practicality. How am I going to repay it?” she asked. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m completely lost here.”
    â€œThen don’t repay it.”
    Carrie shook her head again. “I can’t accept that. Not without a plan. It wouldn’t feel right to me. I might not even want to stay in town. Maybe I need to go get a research job, something in academia. I don’t know.”
    â€œThen what do you want to do in the interim?”
    Carrie sensed her father already knew. Again her thoughts went to Adam. They had taken two different paths, and yet found themselves at the same destination. It must be discouraging for her father to

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