By Susan E. Holle
Rodger cursed under his breath and wished he could get to the hospice faster.
“Please, come quick. I don't think Alyssa has much time left.” That was what his mother-in-law, Paula, said when she called. The words echoed in his head.
I knew I shouldn't have left her! Rodger hit the steering wheel. But she wanted me to get Aaron. He should have a chance to see his mother one last time.
He glanced at the rear-view mirror. His five-year-old son had closed his eyes, mouthing a prayer.
My poor Aaron. He has to grow up fast. So unfair.
Rodger's vision blurred, recalling the doctor’s words to Alyssa. “Your body has stopped responding to the treatments. There isn’t much left we can do except to keep you as pain-free as possible. I’m sorry.”
The past few months had been pure hell. Watching his wife in her weakened state had nearly killed him. It frustrated him knowing he couldn’t do anything but pray.
He ran a shaky hand down his face. How can I say goodbye to the woman I love? The one who helped me to love.
He glanced back at Aaron. At least a part of Alyssa will live on in our son.
He pulled into a parking space in front of the hospice and cut the engine. He helped Aaron out of the car, and they walked in together.
“Are you ready to see Mama?”
“Yeah, “ Aaron said. “Is Mama going to Heaven now?”
Rodger swallowed hard. “Yes, buddy, but she’ll be looking down on you.”
“Like a guarder angel?”
“That’s guardian angel. And yes, she will be yours.”
They headed down the hall to Alyssa’s room. When they reached it, Rodger saw Paula waiting for them and wiping her tears with a handkerchief. “Thank Heaven you’re here.”
“Thanks for calling.” Rodger rubbed his sweaty palm on his jeans, anxious to see Alyssa. “Is she awake?”
“Yes. Go on in.”
He took Aaron’s hand and went into Alyssa’s room. Lying in the bed she seemed so small and fragile, like she could shatter at any moment. Her chest rose and fell as she took shallow breaths.
Alyssa turned her head. “Rodger? Aaron?”
Rodger and Aaron walked to the bed and kissed her.
“Hey, sweetheart,” Rodger said.
“Hey, handsome.” She turned her attention to her son who was in the bed on his knees and caressed his cheek. “Hi, little man.”
Aaron threw his arms around her waist and cried. “Mama, please don’t go. I love you.”
As Alyssa held him she breathed his sweet scent. Rodger’s throat tightened, knowing it would be the last time.
“Baby, I don’t want to. I love you and your Daddy very much. I need you to know I’ll always be with you.”
“I know,” Aaron said. “You’ll be my guardian angel.”
“Yes.” She caressed his hair, tears welling up in her eyes. She smiled. “Aaron, could you go to Meemaw? I want to talk to your daddy.”
Aaron pouted for a moment, but then he scooted off the bed and sulked out of the room.
Rodger sat on the edge of the bed, took Alyssa’s hands in his and kissed them.
“I need you to do something for me,” she said.
He smiled, eyes glistening with tears. “Anything.”
“Don’t grieve for long. You’ll have Aaron to think about. I want you to promise me you’ll go on with your life and find love again.”
“I don’t know….”
Alyssa lifted her head, locking her gaze with his. “Please, promise.”
Rodger looked at their intertwined fingers and sucked in a deep breath. How can I promise when I’m not sure I’ll be able to love again? His gaze drifted back to her pleading eyes. She needs reassurance we’ll be okay. He nodded. “I promise.”
“Thank you,” she said. “Remember that I’ll always love you.”
Fifteen minutes later, Rodger’s heart clenched as Alyssa closed her eyes and took her last breath. Tears cascaded down his face. He bent and kissed her forehead, and whispered, “Goodbye, my love. You'll always be in my heart.”
After composing himself, Rodger rose and left the room. Aaron was crying in the arms of a brunette woman.
Rodger noticed she had a pair of wings with the medical staff symbol on her collar.
He drew his son to him, and turned toward the woman. “Hi, I’m Rodger. Where’s my mother-in-law?”
“She went to call her husband. I volunteered to stay with Aaron.”
“No problem,” she said, giving him a small smile. “I’m Jenna, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise.” She studied Rodger and Aaron’s faces. “I bet you’re hungry. I brought cookies, apple juice and coffee for the patients and their families. I can bring some to you.”
“I don’t want to bother you.”
“It’s no bother.” She scurried down the hall.
Rodger looked down at Aaron. "I think we’re going to be okay. God has already sent somebody to help us."
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Susan is a woman who has Cerebral Palsy. but doesn’t let her disability stand in the way of all of the things she wants to achieve. Susan graduated high school with honors and then went to Blinn Junior College and then went to Texas A&M University. She graduated in 2006 and now she is a video editor and writer.