Chandler woke up around eight o’clock. He was sitting on the windowpane of the waiting room. He’d fallen asleep about six hours earlier, after the worst night in all of his life. Monica, his girlfriend and best friend, had been hit by a car and taken to a hospital. And she had died before midnight.
But the ordeal had been far from over. The doctors had refused to give up on her, and had time and again gotten a pulse. But she had drifted off again. And then they had given up.
Chandler closed his eyes and tried to erase the day before from his mind. He didn’t want to ever think of it again. He didn’t want to realize what had happened. He wanted to go back in time and suggest that they would take a cab instead of running to catch the bus.
He wondered if Alessandro or Doug had been called, if they knew why their employees hadn’t arrived at work the day before. But he really didn’t care. So what if they knew or didn’t know?
Chandler looked around in the waiting room. Phoebe was asleep on a plastic chair, leaning against Rachel, who was sleeping as well. Jack and Judy Geller, Monica’s parents, were gone. They’d gone to find a room at the hospital hotel sometime after midnight. Joey was asleep on the floor and Ross was the only one except for Chandler that was awake. He was standing by the other window, looking out at the rainy morning.
“Good morning…” Chandler said. “If there is such a thing as ‘good’ anymore.”
Ross turned and nodded to him. Chandler could see he was crying, and he let him be. He rose to his feet and left the room. He needed to get something to eat, he was starving. He hadn’t thought about food, sleep or drinking anything for almost twenty-four hours, concentrating on Monica’s situation. Now he felt incredibly hungry and thirsty. He asked Ross if he wanted something before he left for the cafeteria, but didn’t get an answer so he headed off to get himself something to eat.
In the cafeteria he couldn’t decide if there was anything he wanted. He didn’t really feel up to anything special, so he ended up getting a submarine sandwich and a tetra pack of orange juice. He sat down at a table and started eating. It didn’t taste like anything. Possibly like a cardboard box. But he realized nothing would taste any different at the moment.
After finishing his breakfast he went back to the waiting room. Joey was now awake as well, sitting on a chair, staring into space. Chandler sat down next to him and wondered what the time was. He turned his wrist to check the time on the watch Monica had given him, then he yelped. Joey flew to his feet at the sudden noise, and Phoebe woke up.
“What, what, what is it?” Joey asked, clearly scared.
Chandler didn’t say anything at first, he just held up his watch. Nobody said anything.
“The watch… Monica got me this watch for our second anniversary…” Chandler finally said. “So?” Ross asked.
“Look at the time on it. It’s stopped.”
Joey leaned over to see, and moaned slightly. The time on the clock was the same as the time had been when the doctors gave up trying to save Monica.
Chandler shook his head in disbelief, and rose to his feet. He just couldn’t stand another minute without seeing her. It was torture.
Ten minutes later he was looking at her through a glass wall. She was in a respirator, and he knew that she was getting IV from one of the tubes, but the rest of them scared him. They were keeping her alive, but they scared him.
A few minutes after the doctors had given up on her the EKG had all of a sudden started registering a heartbeat again. This time a steady one. Dr. Barkley had smiled big and told them it looked as if she was coming back.
Chandler had just pulled her closer and listened to her breath in the respirator. He thought it was one of the most beautiful sounds he’d ever heard in all of his life. Then he’d looked up at her, to see her open her eyes, only she hadn’t. The only signs of life there was at the time, was the heartbeat and the steady breath. The EEG was practically still, the doctors feared serious brain damage of the lack of oxygen.
Chandler watched her through the glass. No one knew how long she would be in a coma, and if she’d even make it. But she had to. She was his everything, and they hadn’t gotten this far just to give up.
“Do you want to see her?” Dr. Barkley’s voice asked.
“More than anything…” Chandler answered. He followed the doctor inside the room where Monica lay. They’d fixed her up by now, she didn’t look as terrible as she had done the last time Chandler saw her.
“She’s just gotten here from the OR” Dr. Barkley told him, while checking one of the machines. “And I can please you with the fact that we were able to save both her legs and we found a donator for a spleen, so she’s getting that in a few hours.”
“What about a kidney?” Chandler asked.
“That’s not as urgent” Dr. Barkley assured him. “We’re running the tests right now on your friends.”
“Shouldn’t it be easy to find a donator? I mean, she’s got her brother and parents here.”
“Being related is no guarantee for being a perfect match, Mr. Bing.” Chandler frowned. He hoped it would be this time. He hoped with all his heart that Monica would pull through, and he knew she needed a new kidney for that.
Dr. Barkley left him alone, and he sat down next to Monica, on the same chair he’d sat on during the night.
“Hello, honey” he said, in a very low tone. “I’ve been waiting so much to see you.” He watched her for a second. He tried to tell himself she looked just as if she were sleeping, but that wasn’t true. She looked like she’d been through a tornado or something. Her face and arms wore clear marks of the accident. The arms especially, since they were both plastered. Chandler looked down at his own arms. They looked just as usual.
“Don’t you dare scare us like that again, you hear?” he said, carefully stroking her forehead. “You had me so scared I almost went insane.”
He didn’t know why, but he half expected her to answer. And he didn’t know she was answering. “Monica… Please, please DON’T go away. Stay here, I need you to. You’re… you’re just… all I’ve ever needed is in you. You wouldn’t want to take that away, would you?” He shook his head slightly and moved the chair closer.
“I’ve read somewhere…” he began “that if somebody’s in a coma, you should try and talk to them allot, try to bring them back to you. So I guess that’s what I’m doing.” He quieted for about a minute. “This just isn’t fare, babe.” He stopped stroking her forehead and instead watched her closed eyes. “It’s not right. I mean… we’re a couple, you know. We’re two. I’m right here, alive and strong. So how can you not be the same? It just isn’t right.”
Monica wasn’t looking down at herself and the people around her anymore. She was standing next to Chandler and herself, watching him, listening to him, talking to him. She could hear him, but he couldn’t hear her.
“Don’t worry so much, sweetheart” she said, wishing he would hear. “Don’t you worry about me, whatever happens from now on, I will be fine.”
Monica had chosen to stay with Chandler and her friends, but as it turned out, it wasn’t all that easy. George had told her that even if she wanted to stay, her body might give up. She was waiting just as much as the rest of them were, fighting for her life.
She looked at Chandler, refusing to take her eyes off him.
“I love you the most, hon…” she whispered. “You know that, don’t you? Please tell me you know how much I love you.”
Chandler sat quiet for a long time. Earlier on he’d had so many things that he wanted to say to her, now he couldn’t get a single thought out. He leaned back in the chair and watched her. After a while he avoided looking at her eyes. He didn’t want to see them, since he knew she wouldn’t open them.
“You know something babe?” he said after quite a while. “This makes no sense, does it? I know I’ve said that already…” He frowned. “How come I can’t say what it is I want to say?” He was quiet again for a long time. He felt oddly comforted, feeling allot better just being near her.
“It was a love beyond all reason, wasn’t it?” he said. “So why should there be any reason to this? Come on Monica, stop playing with me and wake up.”
Phoebe and Rachel sat down in the cafeteria with their breakfast in front of them.
“I hope we don’t have to eat many more breakfasts here” Phoebe said, taking a sip of her orange juice.
“I hope we do” Rachel said. “I mean… As long as we’re here she’s alive, right? Why would we be here if she was dead?” Phoebe didn’t answer. She had thought of something.
“Rach, what about Pete Becker?” Rachel stared at her for a few seconds.
“What about Pete Becker?”
“Well, you know… Does he know?” Rachel made a face and eyed her friend. What did Pete Becker have to do with all of this?
“Oh look, speak of the devil” Phoebe said, looking over Rachel’s shoulder. Rachel turned and saw Pete.
“I wonder what HE’S doing here” she said.
“Let’s find out” Phoebe said, rising to her feet. She grabbed Rachel by the arm and dragged her up to Pete.
“Yeah, hi, knock, knock” she said, knocking Pete on the shoulder.
“Phoebe?” he said when he turned and saw her. “You, you… know anything?” “About what?” Rachel asked.
Phoebe looked at Pete for a few seconds. She thought he knew her condition. She wondered why no one had told him, and why she was going to have to do it.
“Yes Pete, I know” she said after a few seconds. “I know. She’s… okay.” Pete sighed in relief.
“So she’s just fine, huh? Wow… I feel so relieved… I mean it was some hit, after all… And she’s doing just fine?”
“No” Phoebe said, shaking her head. “I said that she was okay, I didn’t really mean… physically.”
“Is she…” Pete asked, his voice breaking with fear.
“Monica’s in a coma” Phoebe told him. “They don’t know if she will live or die. But I think her spirit is okay anyway.” Pete sank to the ground and dropped the cup of coffee he was holding.
“I can’t believe this…” he whispered.
“Could somebody please just tell me what the hell is going on?” Rachel asked in frustration. “What the hell does Pete have to do with Monica?”
“He… he drove the car” Phoebe said, helping Pete to his feet. Rachel stared at him for a few seconds while the news sank in. Pete was the one who had hit Monica with his car. Then she snapped and flew into his arms, hitting him with her fists.
“This is all YOUR fault? It’s your fault this happened to her? You ANIMAL, you, you BASTARD!” she cried.
“Rachel, Rachel calm down!” Phoebe said and pulled her away from Pete. Rachel sank down to the ground, just like Pete did earlier, and started to cry.
“It’s all his fault, Phoebs! All his fault!” Phoebe looked at Pete. She didn’t feel any anger towards him. He hadn’t intentionally hit Monica with his car, it wasn’t his fault. But it was clear that both he and Rachel thought so.
“Mr. Bing?” Dr. Barkley said, waking Chandler up. He’d fallen asleep for a few minutes, sitting next to Monica.
“Yeah?” Chandler said, quickly waking up and feeling a head ache coming.
“I suppose you’ve tried talking to her” Dr. Barkley continued. Chandler nodded. “That’s good. You should keep talking to her. But not so much about the accident and things like that. Talk about ordinary things. Tell her about your day, stuff like that.”
“My day?” Chandler replied. “My day pretty much sucks.”
“Then talk about something else. Just keep talking as if you expected her to answer. I think that would help her much more.”
Dr. Barkley checked some of the charts and then left. Chandler sat quiet again. He’d never known it could be this hard to speak to her.
Judy found him sleeping in the chair a few hours later. She tapped him on the shoulder to wake him up. He woke with a start.
“You need to get some sleep” Judy said. “In a real bed. Go home, Chandler.” He shook his head, feeling the head ache return. He didn’t want to go, he wanted to stay next to Monica.
“Well it won’t do you much good just to sit around here” Judy said. “Go home, sleep and then you can return tomorrow. We’ll give you a call if anything changes.” Chandler shook his head again. He wanted to be there when she woke up, and since they didn’t know when that would be he planned on sitting next to her all day and all night.
“I’m not really allowed to be in here” Judy said. “They only want one of us in here with her at a time. You’ve been here for hours, let somebody else see her.” Judy watched him for a few seconds, but there was no reaction in him. “You know, once she gets well enough to leave you’re gonna be the one taking care of her. So why can’t you let the rest of us help you with that now? I want to see my baby girl, you know.”
Chandler finally gave in and rose to his feet. His head was spinning due to the lack of food, water and sleep. Judy helped him get to the door, and then Ross, who was waiting outside, followed Chandler outside.
They took a cab and were back at the apartment around noon. Ross suggested a cup of coffee at Central Perk, but Chandler declined.
Joey had gone home to sleep about an hour before Ross and Chandler left. He was woken after a few hours by a knock on the door. He hurried to answer, and found Chandler on the other side, holding a blanket and a pillow from the couch.
“Can I crash here?” he asked. Joey frowned, but let him in. He didn’t understand why Chandler wanted to sleep here.
“I couldn’t fall asleep over there” Chandler said, as if he knew what Joey was thinking. “I just… couldn’t go to sleep in that bed without her.” Joey noticed he was carrying something else.
“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to what Chandler was holding. “It’s a sock bunny” Chandler answered, looking down on it. “Yeah, Mon gave this to me once, and I sprayed some of her favorite perfume on it.”
“What for?” Joey asked, closing the blinds in the living room so Chandler wouldn’t be bothered by the sunlight.
“It smells like her” Chandler answered, and laid down on the couch.
“You’re weird” Joey said, going back to his bedroom to get some sleep.
But Chandler couldn’t sleep. He knew he needed to, but whenever he closed his eyes he saw the accident.
A week later nothing had changed. Monica was still in a coma, although now she’d gotten a new kidney. Joey had turned out to be a match, so they’d operated two days after the accident. Joey had been forced to stay at the hospital for an additional two days.
Chandler was sitting on the couch, staring into space. He’d just gotten home from work, but he would not return there anytime soon. Doug had told him to take a few weeks off, since he was clearly not up to the job at the time.
“Hey man” Ross said, entering the apartment with take-out from Burger King. Chandler waved hello, not ceasing to stare into space. Ross sighed, and put the food down on the table. He took his jacket off and noticed the magna doodle on the door. Joey had given Chandler and Monica one as a two year anniversary present.
“Dude, you’re taking this a bit far…” Ross said, reading the doodle. Chandler had written 'Monica, I miss you' on it. Ross glanced over at Chandler.
“I brought some food” he said. “Because you need to eat.”
Chandler shrugged his shoulders, but rose and went over to the kitchen table to sit with Ross.
“I was watching ‘City of Angels’ earlier…” he said while Ross handed him a hamburger. “And I thought of something that scares me.”
“Oh yeah?” Ross said, sitting down as well.
“Yeah… You know how Meg Ryan talks about the human body just being a bunch of cells?”
“You didn’t know that already?” Ross asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes I knew that” Chandler hissed. “But the thing is, if that were really true, shouldn’t the soul also be just a bunch of cells?”
“What, like soul cells?”
“No, not what I meant.” Chandler paused for a while, thinking of a way to explain to Ross. “I mean, shouldn’t the soul be something that lies inside your cells? ‘Cause in that case, when you die your soul dies as well, and…”
“And what?” Ross asked, biting his burger. “Chandler, I know I’m a scientist, but that doesn’t make much sense. I mean, if that were true, people with severe brain damage would have no souls, right?”
“I’m not so sure that’s were it lies.” Chandler replied.
“Yeah, well get this. Our cells die all the time. In that case our soul would too. Let’s just drop this, okay?”
Chandler nodded and sighed. He looked down at the hamburger and felt he wasn’t hungry at all. But judging by the look on Ross’s face he might as well eat it.
“Do you think Monica will make it?” he asked as he started to eat.
“I don’t know” Ross replied. “I mean, I don’t think it’s any use for me to lie to you… And I seriously don’t know. The longer she’s in that coma the worse it is. And the doctors won’t know anything about the damage to her brain until she wakes up.” He paused. “And you need to shave.”
Chandler forced a smile. At least he was honest with him.
“I can’t sleep, Mon” Chandler said, sitting next to her again. He’d made it a habit to talk to her about all that had happened to him since he sat by her last. And he talked to her about his problems as well, just as if he expected her to help him solve them. Like the doctor had told him. “I haven’t even been inside our bedroom since the day after you… well, after this happened. If I sleep, I either fall asleep here with you, on the couch or at Joey’s. And when I sleep I dream nightmares, Monica.”
He paused for a bit. He wasn’t sure if he should tell her anymore. The nightmares were about her. He chose to change the subject.
“Everybody misses you, you know… Everybody’s hoping for you to wake up. How can you leave when so many people want you to stay? I know it seems allot easier just to let go, but in reality it’s not! Not for all of us.”
He quieted. He was getting upset, and it was best not to talk then. Dr. Barkley had informed him that there was a possibility she could only hear the tone of his voice. And he didn’t want her to think he was mad at her.
He heard a knock on the window and saw Joey and Rachel on the other side, motioning for him to leave Monica for a while so one of them could see her instead. Chandler knew he couldn’t think of anything more to say to Monica at the moment, so he went outside, letting Rachel in instead.
“How are you?” Joey asked. “And how is she?”
“The same” Chandler replied, rubbing his temple. “And so am I, I guess…”
“I’ll follow you out” Joey offered.
“Thanks, but I want to stay… When you and Rachel have seen her I want to talk to her again for a bit.”
“Fine by me” Joey said.
They walked to the small room where they’ve waited while Monica was in surgery. It was empty now. A nurse had explained that it was used for relatives in an accident like Monica’s. Joey and Chandler sat down on two of the plastic chairs.
“I wish she could just show some sign of life” Chandler said. “A movement on the EEG, a blink, a smile, anything.”
“It’s still quite early…” Joey said, knowing it wasn’t true. “The doctors still have lots of hope.”
“Nearly two weeks, Joe” Chandler said. “Two weeks tomorrow. And that’s not ‘early’ to me.” Joey sighed and shook his head. So much for trying to cheer him up.
“What if she… doesn’t pull through, Joe?” Chandler asked. “I mean, we all thought we were home free, right? Well now it turns out we’re not, so… What if she dies, man?”
“If she dies we should be thankful for having these last days with her. At least we all got to say goodbye.”
“I don’t want to say goodbye” Chandler replied, knowing it sounded childish. “I just don’t want to spend the rest of my life missing her.”
“I know, man…” Joey said.
Rachel was in the middle of telling Monica about some gossip she’d heard at work when Joey knocked on the window.
“No change” she told him as they passed each other in the door. She found Chandler where Joey left him, sitting in the small room.
“You’re still here?” Rachel asked, slightly confused. “I was sure you’d be home by now.” “I want to see her one last time” Chandler said. “Before I go home, I mean.”
“Oh…” Rachel said, grabbing her purse. “Do you want some company?”
“I’m okay” Chandler replied.
“Okay, you know what?” Rachel said, sitting down next to him. “No you’re not. You’re not okay. It’s more than obvious.”
“Then I guess I’m okay given the circumstance. I’m okay for someone who’s loosing his girlfriend like this.”
“Chandler, what are you doing? Don’t give up on her.”
Chandler looked up at Rachel. Her words felt like an accusation. The way he saw it, he wasn’t giving up on anything. He was preparing himself for the loss.
“You know, you go around feeling so sorry for yourself” Rachel said, getting angry. “Well what if you thought about us for a change, huh? I mean, Monica is my best friend, and she’s Phoebe’s best friend too! What do you think we feel when we see her in this condition?”
“Rach…” Chandler said, trying to get a word in. Rachel wouldn’t let him, though.
“No, you just think this is all about you and how YOU feel! Well what about Ross? The poor guy is possibly loosing his sister, someone he’s had by his side for almost his entire life! We’re sad too!”
“I know!” Chandler yelled.
“Do you? Because you really don’t show it! She’s our friend too, someone we all love, and then this happened!”
“Yes, I know” Chandler said, calmer this time. “Because she’s my best friend as well as my girlfriend. Everything was for her! Ever since day one of our relationship! She was the only thing I thought about when making plans. I would rearrange my schedule in a split second just to be with her. Everything was for her, it was only Monica, Monica, Monica… And as you said, then this happened. So sorrow, I know what that is!”
“But don’t deny US to feel the same way” Rachel said softly and put her hand on his arm. She was quiet for a second. “Chandler, I was thinking, we really need to learn from this. We’ve all taken her for granted, thought she was invincible, but now we know better. And we all need to promise each other never to take each other for granted again.”
“Rach, I might have taken her for granted…” Chandler said sadly. “But I never forgot just how lucky I was to have her.” Rachel rose to her feet.
“Don’t let her go” she said in a low voice, then she left.
“Hey, do you remember that time Ross and I argued over who came up with that joke?” Chandler asked Monica. “You helped us solve that one… Yeah, you told us that the joke sucked. Had that come from anyone else we wouldn’t have cared, but it’s different when you say stuff…”
He smiled at her and tried to think of anything else to say. He’d been talking memories to her for over an hour, ever since Joey left. Now he felt he wanted to talk to her about something else. “This whole thing, it isn’t good for either one of us” he said, leaning forward in his chair. “The difference is that your wounds are visible. Mine aren’t. And some of the people we know that I’ve talked to since this whole thing happened, they haven’t seemed to understand that maybe I got my scars that day at that road too.” He paused. “You know Mon, I’ve had nightmares… More or less every night. Sometimes I dream about the accident, but honey sometimes I dream about YOU. And you come to me in my sleep, and we fight and hate each other. Either that or you ignore me, you talk to everyone else just like normal, but you act as if I never existed. Sometimes I even dream that you’ve died and you’re sort of… haunting me… and you cry in those dreams and when I wake up my cheeks are all wet… Mon I miss you.”
He was quiet for a second and thought about what Rachel had said about giving up. “I need to talk serious with you, babe” he said, grabbing her right hand. “Those nightmares, I feel like you’re trying to get even with me for something, but that doesn’t sound much like you… So why do I dream that? I mean, I love you and you love me. Right?” Monica still didn’t answer. He watched her breathe in the respirator, the only visible sign that she was alive.
“I don’t even get how you can consider dying?” he said. “Because you know just how much I need you, how much we ALL need you. And you know what? I can’t forgive you if you die. I’m sorry honey, but I just can’t. How can you just die when you know what that would do to me? How can you just die and leave me here alone, to take care of our friends and families… Because we both know that when it comes to the point I won’t be allowed to grief you. Everyone will expect me to be normal… Joey said something like that to me the other day… He said…”
Chandler thought for a second to recall Joey’s words. “I think he said to me… that as if it wasn’t enough with you lying like this, it was really hard for him to see me too. He said that I’m so sad, so terribly sad, and that it feels as if they’d lost me as well. So I can’t really allow myself to miss you in front of our friends because then I just take more away from them.” Without him noticing it, a tear started to fall down his cheek.
“So please don’t die Mon! Don’t you go dying on me, leaving me out here to take care of everything, my love for you, life, our friends, the pain, the missing, I miss you Mon, I miss you so damned much I just can’t take it!”
As he’d spoken he’d closed his eyes hard. Now he opened them slowly and looked over at Monica, hoping to see some change in her, but she was still in the coma. “Is it even any use?” he asked. “Can you even hear me, honey? Or am I just talking to myself here?”
He felt as if he could cry, let her hand go and leaned back in the chair. He’d gotten used to sleeping in it, he usually fell asleep when he was with Monica for a long time. He found it easier to fall asleep when she was near. “Just… If you can hear me Monica, then WAKE UP! Wake up so that I can know that you love me too…”
Monica felt she was awake before she opened her eyes. She felt a bit cold, and her body was aching. She didn’t know why. She felt afraid to open her eyes. She had no idea whom she was, or where she was. Or why, for that matter.
She tried to move her right leg, but it was no use. It felt really heavy. She tried moving her left one, but the only difference was that it hurt more. She tried to move her fingers, but had about the same result. She felt scared.
What frightened her the most, though, was the fact that she couldn’t remember anything. Not her name, not what had happened to her… Not even where she was.
She could sense someone’s presence in the room, that scared her too. She didn’t know whom it was, or if that person wanted to help or hurt her. And in the state she was in at the moment, there was no way she could defend herself. She could only hope that whomever it was didn’t intend to hurt her.
There was one more thing she was aware of. Even though she couldn’t remember a thing, one word kept coming back to her. She had no idea why, because it didn’t sound one bit familiar. She slowly opened her eyes and saw she was in a hospital bed. It was in the middle of the night, and the room was dark with the exception of a small light on the nightstand. Someone, a man, was asleep on a chair on her right side. She felt relieved. As long as he was asleep he wouldn’t harm her. But he wouldn’t help her either. And he wouldn’t give her an explanation. The word came back to her again. She slowly looked around the room to try and see if the word could have anything to do with an item in the room. Her eyes felt funny, as if she hadn’t used them in a long time. And she hadn’t, either. She saw the casts she had and understood why her limbs were so hard to move. But what had happened to her? She also saw all of the machines she was connected to. And she saw a glass of water on the nightstand, and felt how thirsty she was and how dry her throat felt. The word came back to her once again, and she decided to try her voice by saying the word out loud.
She slowly licked her lips and then said the word.