Fiction Inspirational

Blackness surrounded me as if even the sky understood what I was going through. 

I could barely make out the foam that formed on the edge of the sand as the tide rolled in, bringing with it an array of shells that early morning beachcombers would delight in picking up. By midmorning this area would be filled with noise and bodies of every shape and color. But tonight, it was just me, a few crabs and a starless sky.

"Why?" My body shook as an icy wind surrounded me. I pulled my jacket tighter and lifted my hoody over my head. January in Boston was cold, but it never stopped anyone from coming to the beautiful beaches.

Mother had been diagnosed with cancer only six months earlier. 

"Don't worry." She reassured me. She was going to fight this disease and win. That's what she did. As a trial lawyer she was highly sought out because of her tenacity and ability to win every case. So why had this been different? Why didn't she get to win this time?

December started out as usual. Mom and I picked out a tree from our favorite tree farm. She looked weak and pale, but she didn't want to miss our traditional tree search.

Laughing I picked a handful of snow and formed a ball, she jumped just as the ball took flight, causing it to miss her by inches. Her reaction was quick as she leaned over and formed her own snowball. Her legs began to shake as her body started to sway. I caught her before she could hit the ground.

"Are there any family members you want to call in" The doctor's words pounded in my ears. "The cancer has spread to her brain, and it's inoperable."

My stomach lurched and I tasted the vomit that threatened to escape my mouth. I ran back to mom's room praying she would give me a different answer. She didn't.

"I will always be with you, but I'm tired. It's time to stop."

"NO mom. You can't stop. You can never stop." I begged her, I was a freshman in college following her footsteps. I was going to be a lawyer and join her firm. "How will I do this without you?"

She tried her best to look reassuring as she patted my hand. "You are smart. The firm will be yours in a few years. Just get your degree and my team will lead you the rest of the way. When you need me go to our favorite place on the beach. I will send you a sign to let you know I am there."

That was the last conversation I had with her. I traced my hand on her face as she closed her eyes. She looked so peaceful sleeping. There had been a few brief moments where she would open her eyes and mumble something incoherent, but other than that she just slept.

"Her organs are shutting down." The words from the doctor hit me like bricks. "It's time to discuss the next move."

"What next move? You're talking as if we are making plans to build a house or something!" Aunt Shirley grabbed my hand, sitting me back down. "Honey, I know this is hard, but the doctor is right. She would not have wanted to stay like this."

A ventilator was the only thing keeping mom alive, the tubes running into her mouth and nose breathed for her and fed her. The click clacks of the machines let us keep track of her oxygen level and heartbeat. There was no sign of my vibrant, life-loving mother lying in that hospital bed.

"I know." I sat down reluctantly asking the doctor to continue. 

"If we take her off of life support her body will continue to shut down but at a more rapid pace. I can't tell you how long she would breathe on her own. It may be minutes; it may be a couple of hours. I have seen it go either way. I always suggest the families say their goodbyes before removing the tubes."

Glancing at my Aunt I knew the decision was already made. We were her only family and neither of us wanted to see mom this way. My father was shot down while on deployment when I was four, mother said he was the love of her life, so she never remarried.

My aunt was my mom's only sibling. They were two years in age difference and had been best friends growing up. They had even been the Maid-of-honors at each other's weddings.

Earlier today I said goodbye to my mom, my best friend for the last time. The ground was cold beneath my knees, as the last bit of dirt was placed over mom's casket. "How will I manage mom? I need you."

I felt a warmth on my shoulder and turned to look up at the bloodshot eyes of my aunt. "It's time to go."

I didn't want to go. I wasn't ready. She reached out for my hand, and I lifted mine to her so she could help me to my feet. I grabbed her and she held me while my tears formed a wet spot on her black wool coat. I wiped the snot from my nose with my mittens not caring about the stain it might leave.

My feet felt like lead as we walked back to the limo the funeral home provided. Although we didn't have any other family, my mom had tons of friends. The funeral service had been beautiful and her entire law firm as well as countless friends and church members were there.

I saw the sad eyes of others that were taking their time leaving the cemetery. A light snow had started falling but the weather reported called for one to two inches. I knew the limo driver wanted to get home before the roads got worse.

Staring at the sky tonight, I think about her promise. "I didn't want to say goodbye mom. I needed you then and I need you now. Where is my sign? I see nothing but darkness. Is this the sign you spoke of? We put you in darkness today, so you leave me in darkness tonight?"

Once again I look up into the void that would usually shine with a million stars, but this time something catches my eye. Was that a shooting star? How could there be a shooting star when there were no stars in the sky at all? 

"Mom, is that you?" Another star flew by in the otherwise black abyss and my heart felt her. She kept her promise. "I love you mom and I will make you proud of me." The last sentence barely escaped my lips as the tears streamed down my face. 

I knew that moment I knew mom was with me and always would be.

As I turned to leave, the clouds parted and the sky lit up with a million stars. The moons reflection cast shadows on the ocean filling me with a sense of calm for the first time in months. Yes, everything was going to be ok.

January 07, 2024 15:56

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18:53 Jan 18, 2024

Beautiful writing!


Tammie Williams
12:31 Jan 19, 2024

Thank you so much.


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Alexis Araneta
15:48 Jan 15, 2024

Brilliantly-written ! I love how poignant it is.


Tammie Williams
18:14 Jan 15, 2024

Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my story.


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