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Authors: C. C. Brown

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

Shattered (3 page)

BOOK: Shattered
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I steered my look away from Colby back over to my mother, awaiting her response and trying to figure out my role in all of this.

"I will continue to go in for scans, but that's about it."

Her answer inflamed me. That was it? I didn't know where her fighting spirit had gone, but I wanted to yank it back into her. I wanted her to give her tumor the middle finger and kick it in the ass! She wasn't doing any of that, and it saddened me. "Mom!" I shrieked. "There has to be more that you can do."

She softly shook her head and replied, "There is nothing more I want to do, honey."

Anger and shock coursed through my body. She was giving up; she was giving up and embracing her death-- two things I couldn't reconcile my mind with. I wanted to shake her and kick our fighting Irish blood back into her body because she had to have lost it somewhere along this treacherous journey.

"Damn that, Mom." It was the best I could come up with without making good on the thoughts scouring around in my head. "We are going to fight. No doctor is putting a deadline on your life. You fight and fight and fight until you can't fight anymore. Until then, you just fight." My voice was stern and strong. I had never taken this tone with her before, but I couldn't believe that she was settling herself with the words of some doctor who didn't know her.

"Dallis O'Brien," she said, with a motherly, consequential tone, "You watch your tone, young lady." I glanced over at Colby who looked as if he were silently pleading with me to let it go. "I've been dealing with this for a while, Dallis. I've had headaches that have left me bed-ridden. I've had blackouts and more vomiting than I care to remember. I'm tired, honey. I'm just tired."

I looked into her eyes, grey to green, and it was then that I noticed that she was suffering, that she just wanted it to end. I quickly repressed my anger and softened myself into a warm smile. A few tears trickled down my cheeks, and as my mother lifted her finger to wipe them away, I realized that sadness mixed with a slight hint of joy was the guiding force behind my tears. I didn't cry when I'd heard the news, but I was crying now because I saw the woman that I loved more than anyone else in the world beat down and tired. Through my own selfish wishes, I'd wanted her to expend more energy that she just simply didn't possess. "What do you need me to do, Mom?" I asked.

"Nothing, honey. I just want to spend my time living. Not dwelling, but living."

Her words soothed my soul. Spending countless hours in hospital rooms and undergoing treatment after treatment would do nothing but further erode what little spirit she had left. And any remaining time she had, she wanted to spend it living.

I turned to Colby who looked at me with a compassionate smile on his face. "Do you mind if I spend this time with my mom?" I asked, my voice light and emotional.

"Not at all. I'll be at my parents' house," he said. "Do they know, Mrs. O'Brien?"

"No, they don't," she answered, walking over and giving him a hug. "You can tell them, though. I just want to spend some time with my daughter tonight."

Colby nodded his head and hugged my mother again, leaning down to her and whispering, "I'm here if you need me. I love you." He then took my hand and walked towards the front door.

"Thank you, Colby," I said after clearing the emotion from my throat.

"For what?"  

"For giving me this time with my mom."

"Of course, babe. I know you need this." He placed his hand on my check and leaned down and kissed me.

I saw him out the door, then turned to go back to my mother.

Monday morning arrived quickly. I'd spent the past couple of days spending every waking moment that I could with my mother: sitting on the shore reminiscing about the fun times we'd had on the water, eating at some of our favorite restaurants, watching some of our favorite movies, and playing hair stylist to her. I didn't want a second to go by where she and I were apart. If I only had the next three months with her, I wanted to make the most of it.

Colby had made the long drive from Bellingham down to Seattle and back to bring my clothes and other pertinent belongings. I felt it was best to cancel any jobs that I had lined up in order to spend as much as time as humanly possible with my mom.

I'd let Miranda know the shocking and gut wrenching news that I'd been given and like the amazing friend that she was, she'd offered to come to Bellingham to help take care of me. I politely declined the offer, but was thankful for it anyway.

 Today was the day that I had been dreading. Mom said she had an appointment to take a look at more scans, and while she had grown comfortable with them, I wasn't sure I was ready to have reality sucker punch me. I drove her to the hospital, even though my stomach felt like a twisted pretzel. I wanted to keep her at ease, even at the expense of myself.

Walking into the hospital, I felt my mom take my hand. She wasn't grabbing my hand out of fear, but out of compassion. She looked into my eyes; I knew she could see the obvious signs of nerves overtaking me and just wanted to make me okay with this.

It didn't take long until we were in the doctor's office with brain scans on the screen that hung to the left of my seat. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but the large white mass on the top of the picture sent shock and panic through my body and I quickly grabbed my chest, hoping to ease the searing heat that had exploded within. I looked over to my mom with concern on my face, but she simply smiled and took my hand in hers.

The doctor began speaking.

"Ms. O'Brien, your mother has what we call a glioblastoma. It is a high grade, malignant tumor that has intertwined itself within the brain." I stared straight ahead at the scan, not wanting to look the doctor in the face. "We could always try surgery, but there is no guarantee that we would get it all and it would more than likely grow back." I could feel the squeeze of my mother's hand grow tighter. "We could also do chemotherapy, followed by radiation, but of course that would just prolong the inevitable." I was finally able to look the doctor in the eye. His face took on more of a compassionate human being, rather than just a doctor. "With no treatment at all as your mother has elected, we are looking at three months at most."

I had heard the words from my mom before, but seeing the scans and hearing the doctor speak with finality made it all hit home. I took a deep breath, and after looking back to my mom who smiled meekly, I closed my eyes as a few tears slid down my face.

When we arrived home, I stepped out to call Colby and fill him in on the information that the doctor had given me. He'd been working, but took the call and promised that as soon as he could get away he would be back up in Bellingham by my side. I thanked him, but told him it was unnecessary since I really just wanted to spend the time with my mom.

Standing outside on the front steps made me think about all the memories that I'd shared with my parents over the years. I'd been brought home from the hospital to this house, took my first steps here, stood in my cap and gown on these very steps…and, I'd been carried up these steps by Colby the night I came home after being informed of my father's death. Now, as I stood with the crisp Pacific Northwest air hitting my face, I was faced with the very real prospect of losing my mom any day here. The thought was unsettling so I made my way back into the house. I found her making a cup of tea in the kitchen.

"Tea, honey?" she asked lightly.

"Yeah, I'll have a cup," I responded, taking a seat at the table.

She poured our tea and squeezed a bit of lemon in each cup before walking over to me. Taking a seat across from me she said, "Dallis, when I go, I want to be cremated…"

I stopped her. "Mom, I don't want to talk about this right now." My eyes drooped at the mere mention of death and funeral plans.

"We have to talk about it now, Dallis. I want to make all of my wishes known and make sure you know that you are taken care of." I closed my eyes and sighed, but let her continue. "I've opted for cremation and Paul's Funeral Home will be handling all of the arrangements." I took a sip of my tea. "The house will be yours and you are free to do with it as you please." I shook my head at the mere thought of doing anything with the house other than keep it. "The house is paid off, and all insurance policies list you as the sole beneficiary." As difficult as it was, I managed to contain the tears that were desperately trying to break through. My mom was stoic and needed me to be a rock, so breaking down into a blubbering mess was the last thing I wanted to do in front of her. "I just want to prepare you, Dallis. I don't want any surprises."

"I know, Mom," I murmured because it was all that I could fix my lips to say.

We sat for the next hour talking about me and my photography business. I'd told her that I'd recently paired with Miranda and her interior design business to be the sole photographer for her projects. She was pleased to know that Miranda and I were doing well. She'd learned just how good of a friend Miranda was when Dad had passed away. She was unwavering in her love and support, and my mom took great solace in the fact that I was going back to school, knowing that Miranda would be there with me.

She also asked about Colby and that was when the conversation turned awkward. "Why don't you want to marry Colby?" she asked staring into my eyes and willing an answer out of me.

"It's not that I don't want to marry him, Mom. I just don't want to marry him

She studied me for a second before saying, "You two have been together for a while. Surely thoughts of marriage have come up. Why are you not leaning that way?" I started to speak, but she continued. "Colby is a good boy with a good background. I don't want you struggling, Dallis, and Colby can make sure you don't."

I was shocked by her statement. She'd never focused on the material side of life, so her pointing out the Shaw's wealth was a bit unnerving. "Mom, you know I don't care about that, and you've never cared either. Why do you care now?" My tone came off harsh, but I couldn't hide the bitterness in my question.

"It's not that I care, per se. I just know that boy loves you and wants to make you his wife. I don't want you all alone in this world, and let's face it, the life that the Shaw's provide cannot be overlooked."

"When I'm ready to marry, I will marry… and not a moment sooner." I said, running my fingers through my long, auburn hair. "Colby is great, but sometimes his arrogance puts me off, and I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle that for the rest of my life."

"I can understand that, honey, but let me remind you that, there are no perfect men. They will all have flaws, so focus on the things you love about him rather than on the thing you don't."

She winked at me and took a sip of her tea, then we went back to light hearted, carefree conversation.

A month had gone by.

While I was settling into my childhood home once again, I heartbreakingly watched my mother deteriorate. We'd gone to the doctor's office at least twice a week, and spent a few days here and there in the hospital due to blackouts and violent bouts of vomiting. I wanted so badly to help my mom, but there was nothing that I could do. I tried to make life as care free and painless as I possibly could, but it just seemed it was never enough.

Colby had taken a few days away from work to come up and assist me with my mom. His parents had been a big help as well, and while I could see the appreciation on Mom's face, I could also see her growing more and more tired.

I'd gotten my mom to agree to a night out at the park. There was a free concert taking place, and she'd been complaining about getting time out of the house, so I figured this was the perfect venue. Colby had driven up and his parents had said that they would meet us there to help her enjoy a good time out.

The park had illuminated lanterns dangling from the trees. Outdoor vendors and blankets were spread across the grass as far as the eye could see. I pushed Mom along in a wheelchair, since her energy had recently depleted. Colby and his parents carried our blankets and commented on the delicious smells filling the air from all of the vendors. We took our spot towards the back of the grassy area, furthest away from the stage, giving ourselves an easy exit when the show ended--to avoid the crowds.

BOOK: Shattered
11.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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