I board the commuter train with heartfelt tears in my eyes. The taste of my husband’s salty lips still in my mouth, and the whiff of cherry blossom still in my nose from my daughter’s favorite lotion. It breaks my heart to say goodbye to them. I’m shaken to my very core as my heart aches with sadness. I must leave Boston for a very important business meeting in Cape Cod.
Come back soon mommy - echoes through my mind as I find my seat. I smile as I sit down in a maroon colored seat. I had no idea that train seats would be so comfortable, but it still doesn’t put my mind at ease. I miss them already. I wonder if every mom feels like this when they have to leave their family. I reach into my brown leather purse and pull out my iPhone. Sure enough, I already have a text message from my husband Dennis that reads:
Have a nice trip Samantha. Try to have some fun, and don’t worry about us. Lucy will be fine, and your sexy beast will be here when you get back! Love always.
I inhale a deep breath, and slowly exhale. This usually helps with my anxiety. Dennis always has a way of making me feel better when I’m about to lose my shit. I put my business face on and agree to take my husband’s advice. I should try to enjoy myself.
My thought process is interrupted by more passengers entering the train. I never knew so many people still rode these things. It’s my first time riding the train, and I must admit - I’m a little nervous. I would have taken my car and drove to Cape Cod myself, but I didn't want to face the bumper to bumper traffic.
I see people of all ages both male and female taking their seats and pulling out their handheld devices. They look like a bunch of mindless zombies spaced out from a brain shortage. Isn’t it weird how we all seem so lost in the digital world? Have we lost that human connection? In my home we make time for each other, and only allow smart devices to be used when necessary.
My thought process is interrupted again by the ticket master. He is wearing a fancy dark navy-blue uniform with bright gold buttons, and looks like he came straight from the 1800’s.
“Ticket please,” he says with his hand held out.
I reach into my pocket and place my ticket into his white gloved hand. He smiles warmly and says, “Thank you ma’am. I hope you have a pleasant trip.”
I nod my head and watch as he moves from seat to seat collecting everyone's tickets. He says the same thing to every person, apart from ma’am and sir respectively. I wonder if he really likes his job. If it were me, I would mix it up a little and have some fun.
What’s up? Ticket please.
Yo’ Yo’ give me your ticket... now!
Come on you know what I want. Hand it over!
Me the ticket monster. Me hungry, please feed me a ticket!
I hear myself giggle out loud and look around to see if anyone noticed. The next thing I hear is a rush of steam and a deafening toot, toot. I feel a slight pull on my body as the train moves forward with a chugga-chugga sound. I look out the window and watch the city zip by as we pick up speed. I open my eyes wide and become one with the train. It’s such a rush of exhilaration. This isn’t just a train ride - it’s an experience.
I look around to see if anyone else is enjoying the ride as much as I am, but they're all still zombified by their devices. I decide to be different and put my phone back into my purse. I sit back and just stare out the window. Things outside seem to wiz by so fast I almost feel like a superhero with super-speed. Well… that’s if superheroes existed in real life. Lucy loves The Flash, he’s one of her favorites. She would have gotten a thrill out of this!
I hear a crackle over the intercom and the ticket master starts to talk:
“Ladies and gentlemen please remain in your seats. We are about to enter a tunnel, so things will be dark outside. The lights in here will stay on for your safety. Thank you for your patience.”
Wow, this guy is a real pro, he should be an actor or something like that. I start to chuckle again, but no one cares. I close my eyes and lean my head back on the seat. I feel the tension in my neck loosen as I sink into the cushion. I was up all night preparing for the upcoming meeting, so I didn’t get much rest. I decide to take a small nap as we enter the tunnel.
As I drift off to sleep a delightful memory of my wedding day springs to mind. Dennis looks into my eyes with a burning passion as he says his vows:
“From the moment I met you, I knew you were the one. You fill my heart with a happiness I can’t explain. It’s a wonderful feeling and I want to feel that every day for the rest of our lives. You're not only the woman I love, but my best friend. Today…,” he paused to wipe a tear away. “Today I give you my entire heart and soul. I will always love, honor, cherish, trust, and obey you for the rest of my life.” A quiet laughter erupts, and my mom snarls her mouth for them to shut up.
My dream suddenly changes to when Lucy is born. Dennis holds my hand as I scream in agony. I squeeze so hard I can hear his fingers crack. Like a champ, he doesn’t let go. He holds on... he holds on. I give one final push and I swear I give it all I’ve got, and I hear her cries. The doctor raises her up to me, and she looks so beautiful I think I’m looking at a real-life Angel.
I see Dennis sitting with Lucy - staring at her intently. “Say da-da… you can do it Lucy. Say da-da.” Lucy giggles the cutest laugh that lights my soul up like the burning sun. Dennis gives me that reassuring smile of his and I start to laugh. Lucy looks over at me, big blue eyes open wide and says her first word, “Ma… ma.” We just start laughing and we embrace her at the same time.
My mind drifts off to Lucy’s first day of school, waiting for the school bus to pick her up. It starts to rain, and I pull her yellow hood up over her golden hair to keep it from getting wet. The school bus pulls right in front of us and the driver pulls open the door.
“I’m scared mommy.”
“I know sweetheart. Remember we talked about this. You’re going to make some wonderful friends!”
Lucy sucks in her bottom lip and says, “What if they don’t like me?”
I kneel and give her a hug - not caring that my clothes will get wet. As we part I say:
“I promise you that you will make friends and you will have a fun time learning about all kinds of wonderful things. But you’ll never know if you don’t have the courage to put one foot in front of the other and try it.”
Twisting back and forth Lucy says, “Oh… ok mommy. I’ll try it.”
She runs up the big black steps and waves goodbye to me. The bus door closes and drives away. With a tear in my eye I wave goodbye.
My thoughts roam to my tenth wedding anniversary. I just get done fixing breakfast - Lucy loves my pancakes. As I get ready to set the plates, I find a beautiful bundle of pink roses sitting on the dining room table glistening in the morning sun. Dennis pops up from behind the table and says, “Surprise! Happy Anniversary!” I run over as fast as I can and jump into his arms. I plant my lips on his and it feels just like our first kiss.
“I love you Dennis.”
“I love you too!”
The passion still burns deep within us even after all those years.
Lucy runs in smelling the pancakes and says, “Yes we all love each other. Now where’s my pancakes!”
I open my eyes and look out the window. It’s still dark outside, so we must still be in the tunnel. I rub the sleepies out of my eyes and let my vision return to normal. I look around and all the seats are empty. Where did everyone go? The bathrooms aren’t that big.
The ticket master approaches me from behind and places his hand on my shoulder. I look up at him and his eyes are gleaming. He somehow looks different from before. He is now wearing a bright white uniform with golden buttons.
I raise my eyebrows and look up at him, “Where did everybody go?” I ask.
He gives me a comforting smile and replies, “I’m afraid you just missed them.”
I scrunch my lips together and wrinkle my forehead. “What do you mean I just missed them? Did we make an unscheduled stop?"
He shakes his head very slowly and closes his eyes. “They already flew away my dear, and now it’s time for you to come along with me.”
I look at him like he’s crazy. “What do you mean they flew away?”
He takes a deep breath and says, “I’m afraid there was an accident.” He pauses for a moment and then continues. “A few minutes after we entered the tunnel, the train derailed. I’m afraid that no one survived.”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “You mean I’m dead? I-I can’t be dead! I have a family!”
He doesn’t say anything and lowers his head. My heart falls into a deep abyss of panic.
“This can’t be happening!”
“I have a husband and a daughter! I can’t be dead!”
“My life is an unfinished symphony!”
He looks up at me and points straight ahead through the darkness. I see a bright white light quickly approaching. The train rolls full steam ahead and we enter the light. I’m blinded for a moment, but only for a moment. A sense of calming peace sweeps over my subconscious. I look all around and observe scenery that I could only imagine.
I see big white stone pillars holding up two massive pearly white gates.
I see golden trees pulsating with life.
I see a crystal-clear waterfall falling from a high mountain top.
I see Angels with big beautiful wings looking towards us.
I turn around and see Earth lit up like a shining beacon surrounded by an endless void of darkness.
I see my husband Dennis, and my daughter Lucy.
Not for myself... never for myself.
My soul weeps for the loved ones I will leave behind and the suffering they will feel with my passing.
I weep for my daughter who will grow up without a mother.
I weep for my husband who will no doubt never be the same.
I feel some strange power tugging at my everlasting grace.
It’s time for me to cross over.
I walk towards the pearly gates and as they slowly open, the only thing I can see is a bright white light…
Daniel R. Hayes