Kristen is out on the swing in the backyard soaking up the sun. It is her break time. The home health nurse is in the house taking care of her mother while Kristen snuck out back. Her 5-year-old body needs the play time. Her mother has been sick and stricken with breast cancer for 6 months now and doesn’t have much time left. The diagnosis came fast, and the prognosis is poor. It is a very aggressive cancer that has taken her whole-body captive. Kristen’s dad hasn’t been around much to help; therefore, they hired a home health nurse to help. She is on hospice care. Kristen’s dad, Ryan Kirkwood, works long hours and is sometimes gone overnight. Kristen has helped with her mother while her dad is gone. It is about lunch time, so Kristen goes inside to make herself a sandwich, PBJ, of course. Kristen goes into her mother’s bedroom to ask if she or the nurse would like a sandwich.
“No thank you darlin, but I really appreciate it,” says Gretchen the nurse.
“Mom, how about you?” Kristen asks.
“No dear, I am fine,” Melanie answers.
Kristen leaves but can tell something is wrong. Her mother was breathing fast and very pale. Kristen takes her sandwich and milk and goes to sit on the couch to watch TV.
Miss Gretchen is walking out of her mother’s bedroom on the phone. Kristen can hear her speaking.
“She’s getting really bad. I think you need to come home,” says the nurse.
Gretchen keeps walking around the house and talking while Kristen thinks she is talking to her dad. Gretchen turns around to see Kristen listening and following her around. She then walks outside, shuts the door and sits on the porch. Kristen gets up close to the window to hear but she can’t. She slowly steps away and proceeds to walk toward her mother’s room. She is scared yet concerned for her mother’s condition. Kristen walks in slowly and sees her mother lying there still and with her eyes closed. “Is she dead,” she thinks to herself. Kristen puts her hand over her mouth and stands right beside her mother’s bed. Mrs. Kirkwood coughs and opens her eyes to see Kristen standing beside her.
“KK, what are you doing just standing there? Are you ok? Do you need something? she asks.
“Oh my God mom, I thought, I thought…” says Kristen crying and interrupted.
“You thought I was dead? It’s ok hon. Here, lie with me.”
Kristen gets on top of the covers on the bed and is being held by her mother. Melanie rubs her head and kisses her on the cheek. “KK, you know I am going to die. I am so sorry to say that hon, but I want you to be ready. You need to take care of your dad. He is very needy.”
“I know mom. I am scared. I don’t want you to go. I love you so much,” says Kristen and hugs her mother tight. “Gretchen has called your dad. He will be here in a little bit. Why don’t you go and finish your sandwich,” Melanie says getting more short of breath.
“Why is daddy coming home early mommy?” What’s wrong?”
Gretchen walks through the doorway to get Kristen and take her back to the living room. Kristen finishes her lunch and continuous to watch TV. She is using the control and scrolling through the channels. Kristen finds ESPN that is featuring a poker tournament. She stops the channel and begins watching. After about thirty minutes Kristen’s dad walks through the door and into the living room.
“How many outs does Dave have? Figure it out quick,” Mr. Kirkwood says standing behind the couch and Kristen.
“7,” she says and then stands to hug her dad.
“Nice job KK. That was fast,” he replies and grabs her to kiss her forehead.
Kristen holds her dad tight and then looks up at her dad, “Mom is not doing good. She looks sick.”
“Yeah, I know. Why don’t you stay in here while we talk a little bit. I will be right back.”
Ryan gives Kristen another kiss on the head and leaves to join Mrs. Kirkwood. Kristen stays on the couch and continues watching poker. One hour later Kristen is on the couch asleep. She awakens when she hears her dad crying. He is sitting on the floor by the bedroom door with the door closed. He has his hands on his head and tears falling into them. Kristen walks over slowly to her dad and sits beside him. “She died, didn’t she daddy?” asks Kristen. Ryan looks up at his daughter who has the saddest face. “Yeah baby, she did.”
Kristen sits down beside her dad and starts crying. Hey both hold each other tight. “Don’t worry darling, we will be fine.”