“You need to go say goodbye to her,” Grandma told me softly. All the humour was gone from her voice, but somehow she stayed strong. Her daughter lay dying and yet she managed to keep her wits together. It didn’t occur to me until much later that Grandma felt like she had to stay strong for my sake.
I picked Mushkin up, and headed for the bedroom where my mother spent the final week of her life. I made no attempt to wipe the tears from my cheeks. There was no point; I knew I’d be crying again soon enough.
I also knew that I was about to lose my mother forever, and that there was nothing in the world I could do to stop it.
Mum lay limp in her bed, propped up on as many pillows as we were able to scavenge from around the house. Her skin was so pale she looked like a porcelain doll. There was a clammy sheen of sweat on her brow that never seemed to go away.
I wondered briefly why Grandma would let me near her when she was so sick, then I realised that it was already too late for us both. If my mother had the disease, then we’d both been fatally exposed already.
It was only a matter of time.
I sat down beside her and reached out, taking her clammy hand in mine. I gave it a gentle squeeze; she opened her eyes and looked up at me helplessly. Although she tried to speak, when she opened her mouth nothing came out.
“She can’t talk anymore,” Grandma explained softly, her expression unreadable. I was about to lose my mother, but she was about to lose her only daughter. I could not imagine how she felt.
I made no attempt to stop the tears rolling down my cheeks as I leaned over to stroke my dying mother’s forehead. I couldn’t think of what to say. Everything seemed inadequate. How do you say goodbye to the one person you love more than anyone else in the world?
Lacking any other option, I just told her the simple truth.
“I love you, Mum.”
The only response she gave me was a tiny smile and a gentle squeeze of my hand. She was too far gone to reply, but she still understood. Then suddenly, Grandma was bundling me out of the room, though I fought to stay longer.
“Please,” I implored her, feeling completely helpless, ”at least let me stay with her until the end.”
Grandma caught my shoulders as I tried to get by her and held me firmly. ”You can’t, sweetheart. I made her a promise when she could still speak; now I have to keep it. Take Mushkin outside, I’ll join you soon.” She turned me around and ushered me out the door. With no other option, I took my fat old cat out and sat down on the doorstep to wait.
A few minutes later, a single gunshot shattered the silence. My head jerked up in surprise. Not long afterwards, Grandma stepped up beside me, her face a mask of grief. There was a small handgun clutched between her frail fingers. I looked up at her in horror, and she looked at me with more emotion than I’d ever seen on her face before.
“She made me promise.” Grandma’s voice was choked up, grief and guilt warring on her face. She sat down beside me on the stoop, staring down at the gun in her hand.
Then she looked at me. I realised with a jolt that her skin was clammy, and now that same sheen of sweat shone upon her brow as well.
“Sandy, I need you to make me a promise.”
Genre - Paranormal Romance
Rating – R-18