No Goodbyes for the Grieving

Submitted into Contest #44 in response to: Write a story that starts with two characters saying goodbye.... view prompt

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General

It's not goodbye, just see you later.

The sound of her voice saying those seven short words rang loudly in my head.

No, not goodbye.

But how can it not be goodbye if I don't know if I'll ever see you again?

I lost myself for a moment in my emotions, then attempted to pull myself together. I had to be strong. Not for myself, but for her. She had always been my beacon of light, and now it was I who needed to be her pillar, her strength.

I picked up her hand gently in mine, and lightly stroked her tired, aging skin.

I remembered when I was a little girl, I would climb into bed with her after being awoken by another awful night terror. She would wrap her arms tightly around me, and while she would softly sing my favorite Irish lullaby, she would run her fingers from my palms, to my hands, up my arms then back down to my hands. She would hold me this way until I was finally able to drift back to sleep again. Night mares never came when she was near me, holding me and protecting me from the darkness.

I watched her lying peacefully in the bed, half expecting her to sit up and wrap her arms around me, bringing me in close to her chest like she did when I was a child, where I could smell her sweet rose perfume she always wore and listen to her murmurs of love and strength in my ear. It didn't happen.

I was only 8 when I lost my father that cold winter morning. He had left a few minutes early for work, but an accident had caused him to spiral out of control, smashing his car into the barrier of the overpass where he went barreling over into the frigid waters below.

I had been devastated by his loss, too devastated to notice how broken my mother was. But doing as a good mother would, she shielded me from her pain and mine, always putting my needs ahead of hers, refusing to let me see her pain and weakness during all of it.

As an adult now, of course I can look back on my life and put everything into perspective with more clarity. My father died taking a piece of my mother with him, and there was nothing that would ever replace that.

As a teenager, I remember asking her if she was ever going to date or remarry again. Her answer had been simple and short: "Of course not baby, I'm married." My mother had only been in her early thirties when he died, and she was a stunning, impressive woman. I recall watching her in so many different places and situations, all eyes on her, every head turned. She could have gained the affection and attention of anyone, yet she did not. She had loved my father too much to move on. I never asked her about that again.

When it came time for me to apply to colleges, at my mothers bidding I applied to all the prestigious colleges in the country. With my outstanding GPA and hard earned scholarships, I could have went to any school of my choosing. My mother knew that and was trying to push me to live my life, that I didn't need to stay home to care for her anymore.

I knew I couldn't actually leave though. I had lied to her and told her that my only acceptance had been to the not so impressive local community college. As much as she didn't hide her disappointment about my choice, I also knew deep down inside that she was grateful I was staying close. I stayed home throughout my education, and after my husband and I were married we renovated the basement into a beautiful 2 bedroom In-Law Suite.

When my husband and I were in the first few months of our courtship, I had made it very clear to him that I had no plans of moving from my mothers house. "I'm all she's got!" was what I had said, but to be honest, she was all I had too.

My husband being the man that he was, loved me enough to oblige, for the time being anyways.

Shortly after the birth of our son, his business was booming and he started talking about purchasing a nice family house for us. He insisted we would remain close to my mother, and to appease him, I even went along for a few showings.

By the end of the year, my mother had received her diagnosis, so it was solidified now that there would be no moving out. It all eventually proved to be too much for my husband, and by spring the following year, we had separated.

I threw everything into caring for my mother. I needed to prove to her that I was a good daughter, and I needed to prove to myself that I could fight her cancer for her. She had protected me from every storm in my life, and it was my turn to do that for her.

I took care of everything. Doctors, treatments, medications, nutritionist. I even had Reiki healers and Energy cleansers regularly come to our house. Anything, something...I had to try it all.

I suppose in some ways, my mothers illness became a scapegoat for my failed marriage, but I loved her dearly and the thought of losing her was too much for me to bare.

The night before she had slipped into a coma, we had been sitting on her bed while I carefully and gently brushed her long beautiful silver hair. When I was done, she had turned to look at me, her deep emerald eyes full of beauty and sadness and something else I couldn't put my finger on.

She brought her hand to cup the side of my face and said, "I'm dying honey."

I had brushed her hand away, rising from the bed.

"Mom, don't be ridiculous, you are thriving!" You are doing better now, I know that! Another round of treatment is all it's going to take. We can go see another specialist, and I'll have the Reiki healer come by tomorrow to rid the house and you of any negative ener-"

She softly interrupted me, patting the spot on the edge of the bed next to her.

I stopped talking and sat down next to her, already feeling the tears welling up in my eyes.

She cupped my face once more with both hands. "I'm dying," she started again. "There will not be any more treatments or specialists, my body is shutting down, I can feel it. But its ok honey, I can feel your father waiting to bring me home, that is how I know it will be ok..." her voice trailed off but all I could do was solemnly nod, there was a lump in my throat preventing me from speaking.

She continued, "You need to let me go baby. You are the best daughter a mother could ever hope for. You have made my life worth living, every moment of it. But I need you to let go and move on. I have come to terms with it, and you need to as well. Live your life my sweet girl. Your husband loves you the way your father loved me, repair your marriage and be a family together for that beautiful grandson of mine. My life is moving on now, but its ok, because I will see you again. Me and Daddy will both see you again. It's not goodbye, just see you later."

The lump in my throat growing, I had just simply nodded again, tears streaming down my face.

"I love you, my sweet girl, oh how I love you so much." she wiped the tears from my eyes, and I laid down in the bed with her, my mother, my beautiful strong mother.

When I awoke the next morning, she did not.

3 days later, watching her lay still in the hospital bed, her last fragile moments alive, the rhythmic beeping of the vitals reader next to her, listening to the sounds the breathing machine made every time fresh breath was pushed into her lungs.

I kicked off my flipflops, and very carefully crawled into bed next to the delicate frame of my mother.

Very gently, I wrapped my arms around her, and picking up her hand in mine, I ran my fingers along her palm, her hand, up her arm, and back down again. Over and over again.

I brushed her silver hair away from her face and whispered softly, "Its ok Mama, everything is going to be ok. I am here with you, and you can let go now if you want. It's ok, everything is going to be ok. It's not goodbye, its see you later..."


June 03, 2020 16:49

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11 comments

Mara C
11:19 Jun 12, 2020

This is so gorgeous and emotional! I absolutely love it! I could feel the emotion (and sadness) so strongly from the character! Honestly, this is amazingly written! Well done! Best of luck for the challenge! :D ;D (Thank you again for your sweet comment on my story,) :-)

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Talia M
11:47 Jun 12, 2020

No problem at all! And I am so glad you liked mine as well! I look forward to reading more of your stories! Good luck to you!! :-)

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Mara C
11:58 Jun 12, 2020

I look forward to writing more, as well! Look forward to reading more from you, too! Thank you as well :DD

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X Y
13:39 Jun 11, 2020

Hello Talia, This is a beautiful, tragic, and touching story. You had a few typos, so watch out for those. Otherwise, everything worked beautifully. You're an amazing writer. Keep up the good work!

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Talia M
14:58 Jun 11, 2020

Thank you very much! I will watch out for more typos in the future!! I look forward to reading more of your work :-)

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X Y
15:44 Jun 11, 2020

Of course. Thank you! :)

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Oh my gosh! This is such a great story! You really know how to make the characters feel tense, upset, and strongly happy. I felt too, very upset that her father died. Also, what is the name of the main character's name? When the mother was dying, I felt truly devastated. A perfect way to end a story. 💗

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Talia M
16:12 Jun 07, 2020

Omg thank you so much! I REALLY appreciate your input! I didn't have a name for her, I want the reader to be able to feel like it is their experience, more personal... Thank you again, your input means so much!!

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No problem at all! :D

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Lanie Pochurek
21:01 Jun 09, 2020

this story was incredible! i loved every moment of it. you are so good at describing feelings, and you are so talented in writing. i would love to hear more of you!

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Talia M
21:54 Jun 09, 2020

Thank you so much! My intent was to create an emotional response from the reader and I am so glad you felt that way! Much more to come!!! Thank you again!

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