When I Look at You

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Chapter Twenty Three

The hospital released Mom a few hours later and Tammy brought her van up to the hospital to get her so she wouldn’t have to climb into Blaine’s truck. A medical van had dropped off oxygen while we were gone and Blaine helped my dad bring in the tanks for mom. She explained everything in greater detail once we were home, opening up about the cancer and how it was such an aggressive cancer to have. The doctor in Maine had told her that she wouldn’t have made it this far but she proved them wrong. When she found out there were no more choices for her, she decided to quit her job and head here to spend the rest of her life with me and the ocean.

Over the next couple of days, things seemed to be normal. I returned back to the art gallery and worked like before. But then Mom came down with a bad cough. It was getting harder for her to catch her breath and she was having problems walking even short distances without needed to take a break. Dad and Tammy moved her room downstairs into the den so she didn’t need to climb the stairs at night. Mom spent a lot of time sleeping or laying down, fatigue setting in quickly.

Most days following her cold were like this. They worsened as time progressed, her illness getting worse and worse. She had a few scares where she was rushed to the hospital. Each time, she refused treatment though because it would just further prolong the inevitable ending. She would come home to her new hospital bed that was in the den one afternoon. A nurse now made daily visits with my mom, checking on her and taking vitals on an hourly basis. Each time it was the same; she was doing okay for how she should be doing but time was slipping away.

Three weeks after my birthday, I came home from work and found my mother’s makeshift bedroom empty. Alarmed, I ran into the kitchen and found Tammy sitting at the kitchen counter. She was reading the newspaper and sipping water from a bottle. “Where’s my mom?” I asked. She turned to look at me.

“She went to the doctor’s with your father. They should be coming back anytime now. Her hospice nurse is due here shortly. How you doing, Kerri?” She asked, looking at me with the same sad and sappy look everyone around me has been giving me since I found out.

“I’m fine.” A car honking outside made both of turn. I walked towards the front door and peered out the screen. Dad stood there, helping my mom out of a car I had never seen before. It was a white little convertible with a leather roof. Opening the door, I stepped out on the porch. “Whose car is that?” I asked.

“Yours. Catch.” Dad said, tossing a set of car keys at me.

“What?” I asked, looking at them. There was a little red bow tied to the keys.

“You’re going to need a car for school next month and when you head off to college in January. So I figured why not get one now? I got a great deal on it since I told the dealer I was dying.” My mom joked. She was making a lot of these comments lately. It was the kind of person she was but it still made my stomach flop each time she said it.

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