Three Views of Life and Death

Submitted into Contest #105 in response to: Write a story from the point of view of three different characters.... view prompt

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Drama Friendship Christian

Carol stepped out of her mom’s bedroom speaking in a low tone into her cell phone. She was in shear frustration when she got her brother’s voice mail. “Jan, I think mom is slipping away. She’s barely breathing. Please get here as fast as you can! The hospice lady is on her break and Connie won’t be here for another hour. I don’t know what to do!”

Feeling all alone, not equipped to handle her mother’s death all by herself, her family’s circumstances kept playing in her mind. In a few days she was turning twenty-one, her sister was graduating from college, and Jan’s wife was giving birth. Her mom wouldn’t’ be able to enjoy the fruits of her hard work getting them all that far on the road of life.

Holding back tears, Carol returned to the bedroom as her mom, Mary, groaned from her bed. She was trying to say something. Carol knelt next to her bed leaning as closely as she could to hear mother say, ”Mom? What are you doing here?” It was so faint that Carol wasn’t sure she heard her correctly.

Carol whispered to her mom, “No, Mom, it’s me, Carol. Did you want to say something?”

Mary frowned as her mother, Francis, appeared more clearly hovering at the foot of her bed. Francis glowed with peace, joy, and compassion. She looked saintly, youthful even. “Mary, yes, it is me, your mother. Are you coming to join us?” Francis had passed on eight years earlier.

Mary opened her eyes ever so slightly, gasping for breath between words. “Are…you…here…to…take…me?…Is…this…how…it’s…done?”

Francis stood silently with a saintly smile as she took in the situation. “Yes, Mary, I can take you, but you don’t need to come, yet. You have much to do still right where you are.”

Carol couldn’t hear her grandmother speaking, only her mother.

Mary moaned. “It’s…so…hard….I…just…can’t…do…it…any…more….I…hurt…so…”

The embodiment of peace, Francis smiled. “Yes, I feel your burden. “You read your Bible. It says to, ‘Cast your burden unto the Lord.’ You can do that, you know. Feel the Holy Spirit’s Love. Let it wipe your burdens away.”

“Mary’s eyes opened even further, “Yes,…I…feel…the…Love! Oh, my! Oh, my!”

Carol put her hand over Mary’s. “Mom? Are you talking to someone?”

Mary’s eyes glanced over at Carol, her breath coming easier. “Yes, don’t you see her? Your grandmother, Francis, she’s here.”

Carol looked around the room more in search of what to say than trying to see someone she knew wasn’t there. Was her mother delusional or was she really seeing her grandmother in the next world. “What is she saying?”

Mary was confused. Why didn’t Carol know what Francis said. She said it perfectly clearly.

Francis spoke again. “Is that Carol, Jan, or Connie? I can’t see and hear them, and they can’t see and hear me. You are the only one who can see and hear me.”

As she slipped closer to the next world Mary’s mind became clearer. She understood she was passing on, now. Till now she had been desperately holding onto her human life. She wanted to witness Carol’s birthday, Jan’s new baby, Connie’s graduation. But the Love she felt, it was like nothing she had felt before. All of her earthy concerns were fading away. The loss of her job when the pandemic started, didn’t seem to matter so much. Her debt to put Connie through college seemed so insignificant now. Her hurt from being abandoned by her husband ten years earlier was like a sore wound that just vanished. Her hate of him seemed irrelevant, melted by the Holy Spirit’s Love. That Love was indescribable-something like the sun warming her on a cold winter day, but infinitely better. It permeated her whole being. She felt complete. Loved. Carefree.

Carol whispered to herself, “Oh, Mom, don’t stop breathing! Please, hold on! Jan and Connie will be here any minute!” She wiped her mother’s brow with a tissue. She looked for signs of life from her now closed eyes. She pressed the tissue to her own nose, sniffling uncontrollably, closing her eyes to block out the painful scene.

Francis smiled radiantly. “Mary, honey, tell me about the children.”

Mary had slipped past the point where Carol could hear her, the confines of her bodily limitations. Speaking took no effort. Mary told her about Jan’s wife about to have their second baby, Connie graduating with a 4.0 grade-point average, and Carol planning her twenty-first celebration despite the pandemic. 

As happy as she was to see Mary, Francis knew Mary still had a brief chance to come back to this world. Francis had no problem advising her of her options, but Mary had to really want it. That would be hard when Mary felt the Love of God for the first time in her life. “Mary, tell me about Jan’s first child.”

Mary beamed with joy. “Kenny is just the happiest little boy! He and I just laugh and laugh whenever I take care of him. He is two and a half, but he talks better than any three year old I know. We sing songs and play games. He is the one good thing about not having a job. I can take care of him when Jan is out interviewing or needs to run errands.”

Francis liked hearing that answer. “What is Connie’s major?”

Carol picked up her mom’s hand. She couldn’t find a pulse in her wrist, but it was still warm. She didn’t know what to do or say. She continued to hold Mary’s hand, squeezing it to send her a last message of love. She closed her eyes trying to find peace and direction.

Mary smiled at Francis. “Connie has two majors, accounting and corporate accounting law. She already has job offers!”

Francis was the picture of peaceful joy as she asked, “And Carol?”

“Carol has been caring for me. After I lost my job, I found I had cancer. Carol quit school. She didn’t like it anyway, since it had all gone on-line. She’s been a real trooper. I was hoping to make her twenty-first birthday bash, but maybe she would have more fun without me there.”

Carol sobbed as she murmured to herself, “I was hoping Connie and Jan would get here before this. What do I do? Do I keep her here till they get here? Do I call 911?” She looked at her watch. The hospice worker will be back soon. She will know what to do.

Francis radiated peace. “Don’t you think Carol would be overjoyed if you came back?”

Mary closed her eyes. “But I feel so Loved here. I don’t want to go back to pain and sorrow.”

Francis smiled. “But you don’t need to go back to pain and sorrow. You can take your peace and love with you. You can share it with the family.”

Mary frowned. “But I am so tired and sick.”

Francis said, “You were carrying way too much burden. Those burdens have melted away. Do you feel them now?”

Mary looked contemplative, then beamed. “No. I’m at peace!”

“And you can stay at peace as you play with your two grandchildren. Wouldn’t you like that?”

“Yes, Kenny and I have so much fun! And I can’t wait to dress his little sister. Jan and his wife are going to name her after me and her mom-Mary Lynne!”

Francis beamed, too. “And you could be the nanny for them when Jan gets his job back. 

Mary, if you really concentrate on your family and love yourself by protecting your inner peace by not loading yourself up with burdens, then you can go back.”

“But I feel so Loved! I don’t want that to end. I’ll get those burdens again!”

“The Love won’t end. You have to take it back with you and spread it around! You will feel

Love as you give love. And for goodness sake, leave the burdens here!”

“But I’m out of a job. So is Jan. We are all in a mountain of debt.”

“That Love you feel will guide you to a job. The secret is to love to use your abilities to bless your fellow beings and the right job will come to you. The debt will go too.”

Mary closed her eyes and concentrated. She thought about taking care of the grandchildren, celebrating Connie’s graduation, and Carol’s birthday. It all seemed so possible when Francis said it. She breathed slowly as she concentrated. 

Carol felt a twitch in her mom’s hand. She opened her eyes. She stared at their mom’s face. She dropped Mary’s hand and felt under her mom’s nose. “Is that breath, I’m feeling?” She felt Mary’s temple. There might be a pulse. She was still warm. She checked Mary’s wrist for a pulse. “I think I feel something.”

Mary took a distinct breath, then another, then another.

Carol clasped her mouth. “Oh, my God! Mom, can you hear me? Breathe! Take another breath! Keep breathing!” Carol wiped her mom’s brow, then kissed her mom on the cheek. “Wake up!”

Mary’s body became animated. Her arms showed life. Her head started moving.

“Mom! You’re back! Oh, my God! You’re back!” cried Carol.

Mary’s eyes opened. She looked at Carol, then smiled. She whispered, “I just had a nice talk with your grandmother. Everything’s going to be all right!”

Carol stared at her mother. She wondered it this was for real, but she really didn’t care. Her mom was back! Just in case her mom still needed a reason to stay alive she turned to her and said, “Connie and Jan are on their way. They will be here any time now!”

“Granny Francis is doing well. She looks radiant. Life on the other side suits her well.”

Carol was intrigued. “What did she say?”

Mary’s voice got stronger. “She wanted to know about you children. Then she said I could come back if I wanted to.”

Carol practically laid on her mom to give her a hug. “I’m glad you wanted to.”

Mary smiled. I didn’t want to at first. I felt so Loved.”

Carol frowned. “We love you!”

Mary reached to hold Carol’s hand. “It’s different. It’s divine. It’s like you are breathing it! Like every cell of your body feels it.”

“Why did you come back?”

“To love you guys. She said I would feel the Love as I gave my love. I can still feel it now. My body feels it, too.” 

“Oh, Mom!” exclaimed Carol.

Mary offered a weak smile. “It’s all going to work out. I can feel it working already.”

August 05, 2021 04:48

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3 comments

Michael McGee
23:51 Aug 10, 2021

Very touching and well written. Nice work.

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Anne Fifield
17:09 Aug 10, 2021

Cliff, you’ve written a poignant and touching story. I’ve been in that situation before. You’ve captured the emotions perfectly.

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16:59 Aug 10, 2021

Your writing is the greatest. You evoke such emotion and true to life situations. A real winner in my estimation.

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