I was in the bedroom when I hear Fleur yelling. “HELP ME!” My heart stopped. All morning I had a feeling of dread. Like something was going to happen but I didn’t know what.
I had been keeping myself busy trying to shake the feeling off. I kept telling myself I must have had a bad dream that was lingering but I knew that wasn’t the truth.
Before I even made it down to Fleur and Carmen, I knew what I would be walking into. Ever since I met Carmen, we have had a connection that neither one of us can describe.
It was like I could always feel her arms around me keeping me safe even when we were apart. But in this moment I couldn’t feel her. Carmen’s strong, caring arms were letting go. “Fleur what happened?” I asked as I came into the living room.
Carmen was on the floor and unresponsive. Fleur was yelling to her, trying to wake her. “We were just talking and I went to get my bag. When I came back she was on the floor and I couldn’t wake her up.”
Fleur began to sob. She had always had a special relationship to Carmen. They had a bond unlike our other great grandchildren. She was here almost everyday after school just to tell Carmen about her day.
The ambulance was there within minutes. They hooked Carmen to the monitors and we headed to the hospital. I knew I needed to call Hope and Alle.
So many people needed to know but as I sat in the waiting room, I couldn’t bring myself to make those calls. Instead I sat hugging Fleur and trying to find the connection I felt slipping away. I thought back to the time I first felt it.
I’m touching her hand! I feel speechless at first but then it passes and I actually want her to do more to me. Damn this dirty thinking! She led me to series of pathway and amazing scenery.
All the flowers, the shrubs, it’s all perfectly tend probably by her hired gardeners. We walked passed a mini fountain where the most amazing and beautiful statue I ever seen was the main decoration of the fountain.
She looked a lot like one of the twins. I looked closely and I noticed a name plate on the bottom. ‘Cassandra Larove’ Wow, this magnificent beauty was her older sister.
I was gawking at it when Carmen splashed me with the water from the fountain, making my sweatpants wet in the process. “Why did you do that? You know I have no extra pants right,” she smirked. “You can use mine,” she said and sits at the bench nearby.
She patted the space next to her and I sit next to her. “This is my private sanctuary. The place where I can ease my mind,” she started. She took a deep breath and I followed her.
Immediately, I smell the scent of roses invading my nostril and I feel really at peace. “Wow .... This is peaceful. It’s good to not worrying about something for a change,” I blurted out.
This is so not me talking. Damn those roses! “What do you worrying about?” I sighed. I know she will ask me this question sooner or later. “It’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it,” she said. I feel guilty.
I smiled. “It’s ok. I’m worried what will my sisters eat for dinner or breakfast. I’m worried about my mother’s condition. I’m worried about everything.” I said like it’s a normal thing.
“Did you ever think about yourself for a change?” well, now that someone asked me that, I really don’t know what to say. I never think about myself. All I care are there’s food that can feed my sisters and mom while dad and I work.
“Not really,” I chuckled. “Why?” “Because I have no time to think about my future and my sisters and my mom is my priority now,” She nodded as if she understands my struggle.
“I’m sorry for asking,” she apologized? “Hey, it’s ok. It’s good someone even asked me. My own friends don’t care about my problems.” That’s actually true.
Carrie and Gina probably never have life problems to deal with. “Maybe those people are not really a friend,” that actually got me thinking.
Before I get to say anything she cut me off. “Look, what I’m trying to say is, a friend should be there with you when you need someone. A friend should be treated like family and not just shopping and gossip buddy,” Is she ranting about friends?
“I know how that feels like. My friends threw me away when they learned about my anger issues. I mean come on, my anger will only show up when I’m annoyed or I feel I want to protect my loves ones,”
Does that mean I am one of her love one?? “I really want to know your middle name,” I laughed at her. I never thought she’s this talkative. “My middle name is Clarice,”
“Larissa Clarice Vincent?” I nodded. “That’s one beautiful name for a beautiful lady,” she smiled. I’m guessing I’m blushing hard right now.
“To be fair, my middle name is Erica-Lyn,” “That’s a very nice name,” I said and smiled. I turned to see she’s looking at me with her amazing ocean blue orbs. Our eyes met as if they were talking to each other.
What happen next shocked both of us! I kissed her! I kissed her on the lips. Her eyes were wide open as if trying to register what is happening.
But she responds my kiss with equal passion. I moved my hands to her shoulder as if to make her come closer to me. She took my waist and pulled me into her.
I licked her bottom lips as if to asking for permission and she opens her mouth, letting me to explore her mouth with my tongue.
I taste the food we just had but most importantly, I can feel she’s trying to telling me the same feeling I’m telling her with this kiss.
I love her. I love this girl. I am sure. She pulled away, breathing heavily, looking at my orbs. Her hands moved to my cheeks, caressing them gently. “I have been trying to do that from the day we met,”
She said breathlessly. I feel my heart leaped from joy. She feels the same way! She took my hand and we walked together. I looked at her and smiled.
She smiled back. “I’m falling hard for you Larissa Clarice Vincent,” I smiled stupidly and just squeeze her hand gently. “Me too Carmen,” she smiled. This is the best day ever! ...
*END OF FLASHBACK*
“Grandma? ..... Grandma?” Fleur brought me out of my thoughts. “Your phone is ringing?” I looked at the phone in my hand. Hope. It was Hope. “Hello?”
I answered as if I didn’t know who it was. “Mom, it’s Hope. Are you ok? I have been calling Daddy but she isn’t answering.” I took a deep breath. “Hope we are at the hospital.” “I will be right there.”
Within the next 30 minutes everyone had made it to the hospital. We were still sitting and waiting for the doctor to come and tell us what happened.
I continued to sit, hugging Fleur and thinking of my first years with Carmen.
I was about to walk to class when Carmen grabbed my wrist. I looked at her and she smiled. She turned her head to meet Carrie and Gina. “She’ll be there in a sec.”
My friends nodded and Carmen turned her head to meet mine again. At first she was like trying to say something. She opened and closed her mouth but no words can be heard. “Carmen I can’t be late to class.”
I move to the side but stopped when Carmen raised her hand and trapped me in.
“I don’t know how to say this in a very romantic way but, Larissa, from the first I look at you, my heart stop beating for a minute or two. I thought it’s just a phase but it’s not. I really like you Larissa and I can’t live without you being mine.”
I feel confused, yet happy at the same time.
I am speechless. She likes me?! I raised both my hands and caressed her cheeks.
“Carmen, I feel the same way.” She looked at me; excitement can be seen in her orbs. She smiled. “Larissa...” she pulled away and kneel? She reached her back pocket and pulled out a gold box.
She opened the box and I gasped. “I don’t know your size so I just measure using my finger,” she said and smiled. “Larissa Vincent, will you be my girlfriend?” I am speechless!
She asked me to be her girlfriend?!She tilted her head to the left. So cute! “YES! Yes! A thousand yes!” I manage to say. She smiled and slides the ring in my finger. It fit perfectly.
She stood up and leaned in for a kiss. We met halfway and that kiss sealed our love. She loves me! Carmen Larove loves me.
*END OF FLASHBACK*
The doctor walked into the waiting room and I stood to meet him. “Mrs. Larove Your wife has suffered a massive heart attack. At this point there is nothing we can do other than keep her comfortable.
She has regained consciousness but its only a matter of time before her heart gives out. She has a DNR on file and she has also made it very clear she wants it to be carried out.”
“What is a DNR?” Fleur barely could speak the words. “It means Do Not Resuscitate. Grandma doesn’t want to be kept alive on machines.” I wasn’t even sure who answered.
All I could think about was being with Carmen. “My suggestion is, you bring everyone to say there goodbyes as soon as possible. She doesn’t have much time.”
We all went into see Carmen together. That was her request. Fleur slowly walked to Carmen and took her outreached hand. I was at the other. “Grandma please don’t leave us.” Nobody was expecting the comment. It sent us into tears.
“If I had a choice in this my sweet girl, I would be here forever. But this is just my time. We need to remember all of the good times we have had together. Nothing can take that away from us. Look around this room at all the people you still have in your life.”
Carmen struggling to talk.
“These are all people who love you. Hold onto that. When you are sad and missing me, talk about a fun memory we shared. By sharing those memories with others, the pain will become less until all you feel is happiness when you remember me. Keep your heart open to love.”
Even though Carmen was looking at Fleur when she gave this advice, we all knew she was talking to us all. One by one we shared our memories and said our goodbyes until it was only Hope, Alle and I left with Carmen.
We sat together sometimes laughing and sometimes crying. It was a gift to have these last moments together. Most people don’t get that with the people they love. It meant everything to me.
Alle was talking to Carmen when Hope walked over to the door and looked out. I followed her and touched her shoulder. She turned with tears running down her face. I hugged her.
“It will be ok Hope. She isn’t leaving us. Not really.” Hope pulled out of the hug. “I know but it will never be the same again. I hate seeing Daddy so fragile. I cant remember one time I have ever seen her this way. She is always so strong and sure about everything. She never lets anything get to her.”
Then Hope gave a small smile. “Well I have seen her unsure, frazzled and uncomfortable one other time.”
I woke up with a pain in my stomach. I have never felt like this before. I will go find dad. I must look sick because dad took one look at me and said “Hope are you ok?” I asked.
“I don’t feel good daddy. It’s my stomach but it’s different than anything I have felt before.” Dad walked over to me and felt my forehead. “You don’t feel warm. why don’t you go back to your room and lay down and I will come up with the heating pad ok?”
I nodded my head and went to my room. I walk into my bathroom first before I lay back down. When I sat down to pee I saw blood on my underwear. Why would there be blood on my underwear.
“DAD!!!” I yelled in fear. Dad came running into the bathroom. “Hope what’s wrong?” She asked. “Look dad! I’m bleeding!” Dad’s eyes grew bigger than mine. “I knew it. I’m dying right dad?”
Dad looks at me. “Hope your mommy told you about periods didn’t she?” Hope looked confused “You mean what a sentence ends with?”
“No I am talking about the blood on your underwear. You don’t know what that is?” “No but if I’m bleeding we should go to the hospital right?” Dad starts to sweat. “Ummm no. It isn’t anything to worry about. Its normal you know?”
I look at dad as if she is crazy. “No dad. Bleed isn’t normal. Especially when it comes from down there.” dad looks really nervous. “I will be right back. Stay there.” Dad came back quickly and handed me a clean pair of underwear and something that looked like a big plastic square.
“What is this?” I asked her. “I am going to kill your mother for leaving me to deal with this. “Dad said mostly under her breath.
“Open it like this and it sticks to your underwear. It absorbs the blood so it won’t get on your clothes.” Dad showed me how to use the pad as she called it and then told me to finish and to go lay down.
When I came out of the bathroom dad was pacing my room on her phone. It sounds like she is leaving a message for mom. She sounds like she is panicking. If this is so normal then why is she sweating so much? “Dad why am I bleeding? How can bleeding be a good thing?”
Dad stopped pacing and looked at me. “Well I have tried to call everyone we know and nobody seems to have their phone on. Honey I told you that you can come to me with anything so I will explain this to you as best as I can. So for one week a women will have her what is called a period. Blood comes out of your vagina and it means your body can have a baby.”
Dad stumbles through the brief explanation “But that doesn’t mean you should have a baby. Not for many, many more years ok?” I nod my head “Is this why my stomach hurts too?” I ask.
“Uh yeah. That is cramps. I can give you some pain meds for that if you want. Do you have any more questions?” Dad asked in a nervous tone “No I think that is all for now. Thanks dad.” She hugs me and said
“Let’s go eat some ice cream” I can’t believe dad just said that. “Dad I haven’t even had breakfast yet.” Dad sighs “That’s ok. For your first period, we both deserve ice cream.” I yell. “My first period? How many times is this going to happen?”
Dad looks scared again “About every 4 weeks until you turn 50.” I can’t believe this. “See? We need Ice cream kiddo. My period started today too.” With that we went down stairs for ice cream.
THIRD PERSON POV PART 2
Larissa comes home after a relaxing day of beauty with her sisters in law. She was expecting to find Hope and Carmen eating Junk food and watching a movie. But instead the house was silent.
She walked upstairs and found Hope already asleep in her bed and Carmen laying asleep next to her. How strange she thought. “Carmen?”
She shook Her awake. They both walked into their bedroom and Larissa asks “Is everything ok? It’s so early for Hope to be in bed.” Carmen looks at Larissa and said “Hope woke up this morning and started her period.” Larissa started laughing so hard.
“This isn’t funny Larissa. You were supposed to explain this to Hope. Not me. It was horrible. All day she asked questions and she had cramps too. You left me to deal with it all.” By now Larissa is rolling on bed laughing even harder.
She knew how uncomfortable it made Carmen to talk about menstruation so for her to have to deal with Hopes first period all alone was just plain funny.
“I’m sorry Baby. You did good. I will talk to her more in the morning ok?” Larissa kissed her and they went to bed.
*END OF FLASHBACK*
By this time we were all back by Carmen and laughing at the memory. “I still have nightmares about that day.” Carmen said in a joking tone. “You always had your special ways of dealing with situations.” I said thinking back again.
“Carmen Larove! You are not going to have an ice cream eating contest with our 2 year old!” I swear I am raising 2 kids. But I love it. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. “Awwww mommy!”
They said in unison with the cutest pout ever. I roll my eyes at the site. They were eating their ice cream and I was responding to a text my mom sent.
Just as I finished with Carmen on one side and Hope on the other, they kissed my cheeks with ice cream all over their lips! “What are you two doing!?!” I yelled in surprise.
Hope squealed in excitement and Carmen was laughing hysterically. “Don’t blame me. It was Hope’s idea.” I couldn’t help but laugh with them as I wiped my face off.
*END OF FLASHBACK*
“I was so young at that time but I remember that.” Hope said. “We have always been able to come to you for everything. You have never broken that promise. I love you daddy.” Hope said as the tears came again.
Carmen tried to lift her hand to wipe the tears. She barely had any strength left. Hope met her half way. “You all have made it so easy to love you. I have no regrets about my life.” Carmen turned to look at me.
We joined hands the way we have for so many years and yet it didn’t seem long enough. Hope and Alle walked out to give us one last moment along. We could all see she was fading fast.
“Carmen have so many things I want to say to you. I cant begin to thank you for the life you gave me. You saved my whole family. You made my family part of yours. You gave Hope back to me and made her your daughter. You gave us your name. I have been so honored to be your wife. My only regret is that you are going first. I don’t know if I know how to live without you”
I broke down in tears. Carmen slowly moved over and I climbed in the bed with her and for the last time she held me. But this time when she went to sleep, she wouldn’t be waking up to share another day with me. This was our last moment.
“Larissa my sweetheart, You have love me so well. You dont even realize that you are the rock in this relationship. Not me. If you would have gone before me, I would have killed myself and gone with you. But you will hold this family together. You have been my strength all of these years. You will be ok. It has been a pleasure loving you and I am the one honored that you chose me to love.”
Carmen then used all of the energy she had left to pull me into one last passionate kiss. That passion we have had everyday we have been together.
Then all at once I felt that connection come back. It was stronger then ever. We pulled out of the kiss and I could see her drifting away. With her last breath Carmen said.
“I am so glad I dated a cheerleader.”