"I can't believe it mother, after seven years, we're finally going sledding again. It reminds me of him." Ruby set up her board, ready to go downhill. She glanced at her mother who was also doing the same.
"Me too, Ruby, me too." she nodded as she held the board.
8 years ago...
Ruby held on to her mother's hand. She was scared. The young girl didn't know what was happening to her father. This was their 20th doctor visit in just one year! She was getting very scared, and tense about her father's terrible condition. She was unsure.
"Mama, is...is daddy gonna be alright?" she whispered in her mother's ear.
"Why yes, Ruby. He is. Believe me." she replied, giving courage to Ruby. Her mother held on tight to Ruby's small hands. "He is going to be just fine."
"Why does he look so...so sad mama? Why do we always come here?" Ruby asks her mother.
"I'll tell you when you're older, child. But for now, know this. Your father is just fine. He's just a little tired sometimes, that's all." her mother reassured her, and kissed her on top of her little forehead.
"Daddy is going to be fine," Ruby told her mother.
"He is," she said, and they both hugged each other.
"Are you ready? We're going to go down in 3...2...1!!!" Ruby exclaimed as she was going down.
"Who-hoo! Hold on tight my girl!" her mother yelled back.
They were having fun after a long time.
8 years ago...
Ruby and her mother came back home with her father. They were done with the doctor's visit. Her mother held his hand tightly as they were going inside.
"Are you fine?" she asked him.
"Y—yes, my dear," he replied weakly.
"You need to rest. Don't look at your laptop for some time," she replied sternly.
"No, I am fine, I just rested in the hospital." he refused to, and she got mad.
"I cannot lose you. If I do, I won't have anyone but my daughter. Her life will be miserable. Maybe she won't ever be able to handle the fact about her father's loss. Do you want that to happen to your daughter?" she questioned him, tears dwelling in her eyes.
"I am sorry. I will rest, for my daughter, for Ruby and you." he exhaled and started going inside the house.
Ruby continued to run around the house, feeling very energized. As she was playing with her doll, Ms. Mary, her clumsy hands hit a photo.
"Oh no. Ruby, what have you done?" she came running towards her wails, afraid Ruby hurt herself while playing. "Ruby, stop crying, honey. What happened?" her mother asked gently.
"Mama...I...was pl-play-ing with Ms. Mary and then I run around i-in ci-rcle but then I—" Ruby tried to talk, between her tears.
"Honey, calm down. Wipe away your tears. Ms. Mary wouldn't want you crying, will she?" her mother asked.
"No, Ms. Mary wouldn't," Ruby replied.
"Good. Now, tell me, Ruby, why were you crying before? Did your hands hit something? Did you fall? What happened?" her mother asked worriedly.
"No. I was playing with Ms. Mary and then my hand hit something and broke it. Don't scold me, mama. Please, I'm sorry, I really am mama." Ruby explained what happened.
"Oh little child, there was no reason to cry for that! Mama's not mad at you, now sit here and I will clean the glass shards of the photo." her mother instructed Ruby.
"Yes mama," she replied.
Her mother went inside the kitchen to get a broom and she crouched down to clean up the picture when she noticed what it was.
"George," her eyes teared up to see the young man in the photo. He was standing in a lot of snow and had sledding gears.
"Mama, why are you crying?" Ruby asked her mother, and soon she too realized who it was. "Wait a minute, isn't it daddy? But...but he looks so...better," she concluded.
"Yes, Ruby, he does." she cleaned her tears up and saved the photo, and threw away the frame and the glass.
"Daddy doesn't look like that anymore," she pointed out her tiny hand to the photo, and her mother nodded.
"No, he doesn't. But he looks handsome in a different way," she explained, but still was sad.
"Why is it snowing where daddy is, mama?" Ruby asked.
"He was sledding," she answered, and Ruby nodded, getting ready to ask the next question.
"Did he go to the red cross every day?" she asked her mother, who was very hesitant to answer.
"No, child, he didn't. But let's not talk about this anymore! You need to go to Sally's birthday party! I'll drop you, but first, you need to wear a good dress." her mother tried to change the subject.
"Oh yeah! I wanna wear a tutu mama. I wanna have a wand and pink shoes. I wanna look like a fairy." Ruby replied very enthusiastically.
Her mother chuckled. "Oh really? What fairy do you want to be?" she asked.
"A fairy who takes away the red cross forever," she answered her mother's question.
"Oh, umm...honey, what about a fairy who rides...unicorns!" she suggested to her daughter, and she nodded her head.
"Yes! I wanna be a Pegasus fairy. I control unicorn land!" Ruby screamed through the hallway as she went to her room. Her mother followed.
Little Ruby referred to the hospital as the 'red cross'. She always saw a big red cross symbol and soon just started to call the hospital like that. Ruby didn't know why they always visited the red cross, and her mother never really explained it to her, mostly because she felt sad to talk about it.
"Are you up for another round, mom?" Ruby asked her mother.
"Anything to beat you!" her mother and Ruby giggled as they set their boards again.
"You know, I am so happy that we are doing this again. I really am." Ruby told her mom. "It reminds me of dad and his sledding photos," she added.
"Me too, and George, this is for you!" her mother yelled into the air and they both set up for another round.
7 years ago...
"Your hair, it's—almost gone. George, why are you getting worse? Please god, why can't he be rescued?" her mother was crying into his arm.
"Mom, what's happening to dad? Why are you sad? Why do we still have to go to the red cross mom? Why?" Ruby continuously asked questions.
"Honey, I am not feeling well enough to answer all your questions. But once you get older, I will tell you, I will tell you everything," she replied, sobbing.
"But—" Ruby continued to talk.
"No, Ruby. Don't ask any more questions, please. I cannot answer all of them. Please, Ruby, try to understand." her mother pleaded.
"Yes, mom, I will. Sorry." she tucked her head down in silence.
"Ruby, you wait here, I will come back," she told her.
"But where are you going?" she asked her mother.
"I'm going to check on your dad. Please stay there and don't wander off anywhere, ok?" she asked Ruby.
"Umm...sure, mom," she replied.
"Good. I will be back soon," she replied.
As she went inside the room to check on her husband, she saw him laying there, very weak. She noticed that he was bald now. So many tubes were poking out of his body. She was afraid that his time was close to an end. She suddenly spotted the doctor in the room, and she asked him.
"Is there any positive sign that he will survive?" she asked him.
"I am afraid not. He has a type-4, which you already knew. It is very hard to treat him now. I am sorry, but he will leave his family, and his sledding legacy behind." he replied.
"NO! GEORGE!! YOU LEFT US! NO!" she screamed in the room.
Just then, Ruby heard the scream and dashed inside.
"Mom? Mom, what happened? Why are you screaming? Please tell me!" Ruby too, started crying.
"Honey, your father, he's gone," she replied calmly.
"Where? He's right there! Sleeping! Isn't he?" she asked her mother, very confused.
"He is in heaven, my child. He is in a better place. This world was very cruel to him." her mother explained to her child.
"What?" she was shocked and paralyzed.
Poor Ruby ran to her father and started trudging him, shaking him, kissing him, hugging him, screaming at him to wake up, but she didn't hear anything back from him. He was just sleeping there, not a single muscle of his body moving.
"Daddy? Why aren't you waking up? Mom, try to wake him up! Red cross sir, ask him to wake up! Please, why isn't he? Mother? WHY ARE YOU ALL STARING AT ME LIKE THIS?! What happened to him, mom? Why is he not getting up!" Ruby started to sob.
"Come, honey, I will explain everything to you." her mother called her, and Ruby followed as she dried up her tears.
"Mom, this board you gave me, it's dad's, isn't it?" she asked her mother.
"Yes. Ruby, I'll never forget him, he's in my heart." her mother replied soothingly.
"Me too. May you rest in peace father." Ruby whispered to herself. "You will always be in my heart."