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15 SECONDS
June 22 2009

"WAS THAT THE VOICE OF GOD?" MY HUSBAND WAS SITTING STRAIGHT UP IN BED, AS I WAS. "IT WAS CERTAINLY THE VOICE OF SOMEONE." I RESPONDED IN AWE. "I ALSO THINK I HAD BETTER FOLLOW THAT COMMAND. I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HEARD IT ALSO, BUT I AM SO GLAD YOU DID." "OH, I DEFINITELY HEARD IT, AND I AGREE WITH YOU. THAT IS NOT A COMMAND TO BE DISOBEYED. YOU HOP IN THE SHOWER, AND I WILL GET SOME COFFEE GOING FOR YOU AND PACK YOU AN OVERNIGHT BAG. I WILL ALSO FIX YOU A SANDWICH AND CALL MY PARENTS TO COME WATCH THE KIDS." SMILING, I REACHED OVER AND HUGGED HIS NECK. AT LAST, HE HAD HEARD WHAT I HAD HEARD MANY MANY TIMES BEFORE. SOMEONE TALKING TO ME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. BUT THIS TIME, IT WAS MEANT FOR HIM TO HEAR IT AS WELL, AND WE BOTH KNEW EXACTLY WHAT IT MEANT. I HAD TO GO BACK TO MY HOME TOWN. MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER WAS GRAVELY ILL, AND APPARENTLY I WAS ORDERED TO GO THERE. NOT BY JUST ANYBODY, THAT VOICE WAS COMMANDING. THE MESSAGE HAD BEEN " GET UP RIGHT NOW AND GO TO TEMPLE. DO NOT HESITATE, JUST DO IT."


AS I HEADED OUT OF TOWN, I PRETTY MUCH KNEW WHAT TO EXPECT. I KNEW I WOULD RUN INTO MY BIOLOGICAL FAMILY, AND THAT WOULDN'T BE THE BEST OF CIRCUMSTANCES. I HAD BEEN TO THE HOSPITAL MANY TIMES BEFORE, BUT FORTUNATELY  NEVER HAD ANY RUN IN'S WITH THE BROTHER THAT HATED ME SO VERY MUCH. THIS TIME THOUGH, I KNEW IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT.


ABOUT AN HOUR INTO THE TRIP,  I STOPPED AND CALLED MY HUSBAND. HE EXPLAINED THAT HIS PARENTS WERE ON THEIR WAY AND WOULD BE THERE BY THIS AFTERNOON WHEN THE KIDS GOT HOME FROM SCHOOL. A NEIGHBOR WAS GOING TO GET THEM OFF FOR US, SINCE HE HAD TO BE AT WORK EARLY. IT WAS ONLY 4:30 AM. I STILL HAD 5 HOURS OF DRIVE TIME LEFT. HE ALSO TOLD ME THAT SHORTLY AFTER I LEFT THE HOUSE, THAT MY BROTHER JOE HAD CALLED AND TOLD ME TO GET MY BUTT TO TEMPLE. HE TOLD JOE THAT HE WAS SORRY TO BE THE BEARER OF BAD NEWS BUT THAT GOD HAD BEAT HIM TO THAT MESSAGE. HE SAID JOE SLAMMED DOWN THE PHONE. JOE WAS FROM THE DARKER SIDE OF LIFE, AND HAD BEEN TICKED OFF AT ME FOR MANY YEARS;  EVER SINCE I HAD REFUSED TO BAIL HIM OUT OF JAIL WHEN HE HAD DRIVEN THE GET AWAY CAR FOR AN ARMED ROBBERY. HE HAD ONLY BEEN 17, BUT I WAS IN HOPES THAT RECEIVING THE PUNISHMENT WOULD TEACH HIM A LESSON, HELP HIM FIND GOD AND STRAIGHTEN HIS LIFE OUT. IT HADN'T, BUT AT LEAST HE HAD PAID HIS DEBT AND GOTTEN OUT ON AN EARLY PAROLE, DUE TO THE FACT THAT HE HAD BEHAVED HIMSELF WHILE SERVING HIS SENTENCE. I HAD FELT GUILTY AS ALL GET OUT FOR REFUSING TO BAIL HIM OUT, BUT RIGHT IS RIGHT AND WRONG IS WRONG. HE NEEDED TO LEARN THAT YOU JUST DO NOT TAKE WHAT IS NOT RIGHTFULLY YOURS.


THE CLOSER I CAME TO MY HOME TOWN I BEGAN TO HAVE A FEW DOUBTS. WHAT IF I WAS TOO LATE. NO, I KNEW I WOULDN'T BE. I KNEW THAT NOTHING WOULD GET IN THE WAY OF WHATEVER HAD TO BE ACCOMPLISHED.


AS I DROVE INTO TOWN, IT WAS CLOSER TO 10 AM AND TRAFFIC WAS FAIRLY DECENT. HOWEVER, I GOT CUT OFF AT AN INTERSECTION BY A FLOWER VAN, DRIVEN BY SOME CRAZED OUT BROAD. I WAS MADDER THAN ALL GET OUT AND FLIPPED HER OFF AS SHE ZOOMED AROUND ME. I MADE A PROMISE TO MYSELF TO FIND HER AFTER THE DAY WAS OVER AND GIVE HER A LESSON ON DRIVING. SHE NEEDED IT. AS I NEARED THE HOSPITAL I PULLED INTO THE HOTEL ACROSS THE STREET, AND THERE WAS THE FLOWER SHOP THE VAN HAD COME FROM. HOWEVER IT WOULD HAVE TO WAIT. I WENT IN AND QUICKLY CHECKED INTO A ROOM AND THEN DROPPED OFF MY STUFF. SINCE I WAS JUST ACROSS THE STREET I LEFT MY VAN WHERE SHE WOULD SEE IT. SHE WOULD DEFINITELY RECOGNIZE IT.


AS I WALKED INTO THE HOSPITAL I RAN INTO MY 3 SIBLINGS AND MY BIOLOGICAL MOTHER. SHE JUST LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, "WELL, IT'S ABOUT TIME YOU SHOWED UP." SHE HAD NOT BEEN TOLD OF MY VISIT'S, THAT WOULD HAVE CREATED  TURMOIL THAT WE DIDN'T NEED. SHE ALSO INFORMED ME THAT MY FATHER WAS IN A COMA AND WOULDN'T COME OUT OF IT AND THEY WERE HEADED TO BREAKFAST, INSISTING I JOIN THEM. JOE OF COURSE ADDED : "OR YOU COULD JUST GIVE US A COUPLE OF TWENTY'S AND WE WILL GO BY OURSELVES AND NOT HAVE THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY." THAT SOUNDED OKAY WITH ME. I DUG OUT 40 DOLLARS AND HANDED IT TO MY MOTHER. I ALSO HANDED HER MY MOTEL ROOM KEY ADDING THAT IF THEY WANTED TO FRESHEN UP OR GET SOME REST THAT THEY WERE ALL MORE THAN WELCOME TO DO SO.  I TURNED TO THE DOOR AND THEN LOOKED BACK AT THEM AS THEY STARTED OFF TOWARD THE NEAREST CAFE. THEY DIDN'T CARE IF I ATE WITH THEM OR NOT, BUT SOMEONE ELSE DID CARE ABOUT ME. I NEEDED TO FOLLOW THE COMMAND OF THAT EARLY MORNING ENCOUNTER.


AS I ENTERED THE HOSPITAL, THE NURSE RECOGNIZED ME. SHE HAD BEEN ON DUTY THE WEEK BEFORE WHEN MY AUNT AND I HAD GONE TO VISIT HIM, WHILE HE WAS NOT IN THE COMA.


"SO, I FIGURED YOU WOULD BE HERE. YOU HAVE TO BE THE ONE HE IS WAITING ON. I AM SO SORRY, BUT BY NOW YOU HAVE PROBABLY FIGURED OUT THAT HE ISN'T GOING TO MAKE IT MUCH LONGER."  SHE SAID AS SHE SMILED SWEETLY. I NODDED. " THERE MUST BE A REASON WHY YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO WILL BE HERE. YOUR FAMILY, HAS ALREADY LEFT. WHY ARE YOU SO DIFFERENT FROM THEM? OH, NEVER MIND, IT'S REALLY NONE OF MY BUSINESS, BUT I DO KNOW THAT YOU MUST BE THE ONE HE WANTS BY HIS SIDE. I'VE SEEN IT DOZENS OF TIMES." AS SHE ESCORTED ME TO HIS SIDE, I LOOKED AT HER AND SAID, "THEY DIDN'T RAISE ME, I WAS GIVEN AWAY AT BIRTH AND IT CAUSED A LOT OF FRICTION IN THE THE FAMILY. BUT HE USED TO COME TO SEE ME A LOT. MY MOTHER IS THE ONE WHO GAVE ME AWAY, AND WELL, I GUESS THE OTHER KIDS DON'T UNDERSTAND IT, HELL, I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT. SHE WOULD GET MAD WHEN EVER HE CAME TO SEE ME WITHOUT HER. I WAS HER FIRST BORN, BUT DEFINITELY NOT THE ONE SHE PREFERRED TO RAISE." SHE SMILED AND THEN SAID, "IF YOU NEED ME, JUST PUSH THE RED BUTTON, AND BE BRAVE. YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU ARE A VERY STRONG PERSON." I WISHED AT THAT TIME I COULD HAVE BELIEVED THAT. I DIDN'T FEEL VERY STRONG.


AS I NEARED THE BED, HIS BREATHING WAS VERY RAGGED AND HE LOOKED SO VERY DIFFERENT FROM LAST WEEKS VISIT. THERE WAS AN AURA ABOUT HIM THAT WAS DEFINITELY DIFFERENT. I REACHED DOWN AND KISSED HIS FOREHEAD AND THEN SAID, "DADDY, I'M HERE". I THEN PULLED UP A CHAIR AND SAT DOWN TO WAIT. WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR, I WASN'T SURE, BUT I KNEW THAT I WAS TO JUST WAIT. A FEW MINUTES LATER, I HEARD A SHARP INTAKE OF BREATH AND LOOKED UP. HIS EYES WERE OPEN. HE COULDN'T SPEAK, HE HAD NO VOICE BOX, OR TONGUE LEFT. CANCER HAD EATEN HIS THROAT AWAY. ALL HE COULD DO WAS USE HIS EYES TO COMMUNICATE. AND HE DID. OH HOW HE DID. HIS EYES SAID IT ALL. I COULD READ EVERY LETTER SO CLEARLY AS HE SAID,


"OH BABY, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, WANTED YOU SO MUCH, AND AM SO VERY VERY SORRY." I SMILED, AND WIPED AWAY THE TEAR FROM HIS CHEEK. I TOLD HIM, "DADDY, IT'S OKAY, I ALWAYS KNEW YOU LOVED ME. NOW, THOUGH, IT'S TIME FOR YOUR PAIN TO END. GO IN PEACE DADDY, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, I JUST WANT YOU TO NOT HURT ANYMORE." THEN HE RETURNED TO HIS COMATOSE STATE AND I HAD JUST EXPERIENCED THE MOST PRECIOUS 15 SECONDS OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. THOSE 15 SECONDS OF LOVE, OF FATHERHOOD WOULD BE ENOUGH TO LAST ME A  LIFETIME. I CONTINUED TO SIT WITH HIM, AND THEN THE REST OF THE FAMILY WALKED BACK IN. JOE ASKED IF THERE HAD BEEN ANY CHANGE. I SIMPLY SHOOK MY HEAD NO. I DIDN'T DARE TRY TO SPEAK, MY VOICE WOULDN'T HAVE HELD WITHOUT BREAKING. I COULDN'T SHARE WHAT HAD BEEN MEANT FOR ME, FOR IT HAD BEEN SOMETHING THAT WAS ONLY FOR MY FATHER AND ME. MAYBE THAT WAS SELFISH OF ME, BUT AT THAT POINT I DID NOT CARE. I WASN'T ABOUT TO GIVE THEM MY LAST MEMORY, NOR LET THEM KNOW THAT HE HAD REGAINED CONCIOUSNESS FOR ME. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO HARD ON THEM TO KNOW THEY HAD MISSED IT. I WALKED OUT THE ROOM TO GIVE THEM A FEW MINUTES, AND SANK DOWN BY THE OPEN DOOR. AS I SAT THERE, I HEARD HIM DRAW IN A DEEP BREATH AND THEN EXHALE SLOWLY. THEN ONLY SILENCE FILLED THE ROOM, UNTIL THE WAILING STARTED AND THE "DON'T LEAVE ME, WE CAN BEAT THIS, THE DON'T DIE DADDY, THE "GIRL WHY YOU AIN'T CRYING", AS MY BROTHER RAN OUT THE DOOR, "HE JUST DIED."


NO, I GUESS I COULDN'T CRY, OR GRIEVE. ALL I COULD DO WAS BE THANKFUL THAT HIS SUFFERING WAS OVER. IT DIDN'T MATTER THAT THEY WERE MAD AT ME FOR NOT WAILING OR FLINGING MYSELF OVER HIS LIFELESS BODY. HE WAS NO LONGER THERE. BY OUR ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ACKNOWLEDGING WHAT HAD BEEN, HE HAD BEEN SET FREE. HE WAS INDEED NOW IN THE ARMS OF HIS CREATOR AND I KNEW THAT WITH MY VERY ESSENCE. THE GRIEF THEY WERE EXPERIENCING WAS FOR THEM, AND I HAD BEEN GIVEN SOMETHING I HAD NEVER REALLY HAD. I HAD BEEN GIVEN HIS LOVE ON A SILVER PLATTER SO TO SPEAK AND THAT WAS WHAT I HAD NEEDED AND HE HAD BEEN GIVEN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT I UNDERSTOOD. THAT WAS WHAT HE HAD NEEDED IN ORDER FOR HIS SUFFERING TO END. HOW COULD I GRIEVE OVER THAT? THE CHAPLAIN WHO HAD BEEN CALLED CAME OUT OF THE ROOM AND APPROACHED ME. AS HE LOOKED AT ME, HE POLITELY ASKED IF I WERE OKAY. WAS I IN SHOCK? DID I NEED ANYTHING. I SMILED AND TOLD HIM "NO I WASN'T IN SHOCK AND THAT GOD HAD PROVIDED EVERYTHING BOTH MY FATHER AND I HAD NEEDED." HE SMILED AND THEN SAID, "WELL, I GUESS THEN I WILL RETURN TO YOUR FAMILY. MAYBE YOU SHOULD TOO." AS I WALKED BACK IN THE ROOM, I WAS NOT MET BY PEOPLE WHO WANTED ME THERE. THE CHAPLAIN MOTIONED ME OUT THE DOOR AND THEN I WAITED FOR HIM TO COME OUT, WITH THE REST OF THE FAMILY. "I WILL TAKE IT FROM HERE", I TOLD HIM. THEN I TOOK MY MOTHER BY THE ARM AND ESCORTED HER BACK TO MY ROOM. TAKING THE KEY FROM MY BROTHER I TOLD HIM, "I WILL TAKE HER BACK HOME, IF YOU WANT TO GO AHEAD AND LEAVE." IT TOOK THEM NO TIME AT ALL TO GET OUT OF THERE, AND I STAYED WITH MY MOTHER FOR A FEW MINUTES UNTIL HER NERVE PILL TOOK EFFECT AND SHE WAS ASLEEP.  QUIETLY SHUTTING  THE DOOR, I WALKED OUT AND ACROSS THE PARKING LOT TO THE FLOWER SHOP. AS I WALKED IN I TOLD THE LADY BEHIND THE COUNTER THAT I WANTED TO TALK TO THE CRAZY LADY WHO HAD BEEN DRIVING THAT VAN AROUND 10 AM. A VOICE FROM BEHIND A CURTAIN SAID, "YEAH, WELL I AM THAT CRAZY LADY, ARE YOU THE ONE IN THE VAN WITH THE HORSES, WHO WAS DRIVING SO SLOW CHRISTMAS SHOULD HAVE BEATEN YOU HERE"? I TURNED AND WE BOTH JUST ABOUT FELL DOWN TO OUR KNEES. WE HAD AT LAST FOUND EACH OTHER AGAIN. WE HAD BEEN BEST FRIENDS SINCE WE WERE KIDS SITTING IN CHURCH EATING REDHOT CINNAMON CANDIES, BEING KNOCKED ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD BY HER DAD WHEN WE GOT TOO ROWDY. WE HAD LOST TOUCH RIGHT AFTER MY GRANDMOTHER HAD CROSSED OVER AT THE BEGINNING OF OUR SENIOR YEAR. I HAD MOVED FAR AWAY, AND HER FATHER HAD BEEN RESTATIONED ELSEWHERE. NOT ONLY HAD I REGAINED A FATHER, AND ALL THAT LOVE, BUT MY BEST FRIEND HAD ALSO BEEN LED TO RE-ENTER MY LIFE.


WE COULDN'T LET GO OF EACH OTHER. ALL WE COULD DO WAS CRY AS I RECOUNTED THE MORNING TO HER. THEN SHE TOLD ME SOMETHING THAT I JUST COULDN'T BELIEVE. HER FATHER WAS ALSO IN THE HOSPITAL SUFFERING FROM THE SAME EXACT THING. AFTER A FEW MINUTES, I EXPLAINED THAT I NEEDED TO GET MY MOTHER BACK TO WACO AND THAT I WOULD RETURN AS SOON AS I COULD TO SEE HIM. THAT CHANCE NEVER CAME. I BECAME SERIOUSLY ILL AND WAS PUT IN THE HOSPITAL JUST A FEW SHORT DAYS AFTER MY FATHER'S FUNERAL. HER FATHER CROSSED DURING THAT TIME. I MADE IT TO HER, BUT NOT UNTIL A FEW HOURS AFTER THE FUNERAL TOOK PLACE. MY ONE REGRET WAS NOT GOING TO SEE HIM THAT MORNING, BUT I HOPE WITH ALL OF MY HEART THAT GOD WILL FORGIVE ME FOR THAT. HER FATHER HAD BEEN A VERY SPECIAL PERSON. HE WAS A VERY GOOD HUMAN. SHE HAS FORGIVEN ME, SHE DIDN'T KNOW I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL, I NEVER TOLD HER. I DIDN'T THINK SHE NEEDED THE ADDED STRESS. HOWEVER, I AM THANKFUL FOR THE FACT THAT EVEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS WE ARE STILL BEST FRIENDS. WE TALK AND SEE EACH OTHER AT LEAST ONCE  A WEEK.


YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT LIFE WILL BRING. OR WHAT THE NEXT 15 SECONDS OF LIFE WILL BRING. JUST BE GRATEFUL fOR WHAT YOU HAVE, WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH.  REMEMBER,


"JUST AS THE GIFTS HAVE BEEN GIVEN, SO SHALL THE BREAD BE GIVEN ,TOO".  IT'S NOT HOW OTHER'S TREAT YOU, IT'S HOW YOU TREAT OTHERS THAT COUNT.


MAY EACH AND ALL HAVE A WONDERFULLY ENRICHED DAY, AND MAY THE GUARDIAN ANGELS FLY BESIDE YOU.


jesse_jean57


(c) A. J. Angerstein ,, 06/22/09


Article views: 3388


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