I peered into Mom’s room, my heart racing. She laid on her bed, smiling wide when she saw me. After taking a deep breath and promising myself that I’d do my best to hold myself together, I walked into the room and shut the door behind me.
Mom patted the bed next to her, and I laid down, wrapping my arms around her boney waist. She grasped my hand and stayed quiet for a few moments, enjoying this silence. Her hold was frail and not as strong as it used to me, and my heart broke. “Mia, you know that I love you very much.” Tears welled up in her eyes, and I frowned at her. “You’re my only daughter, my sunshine, you have made me so proud and happy these past twenty-two years.”
A tear rolled down my cheek. “And I’ll make you happy for years to come,” I said. “This surgery will go fine and you’re going to come out of it stronger than before. You will.”
But as I said those words, it felt like I was only talking to myself, trying to make myself feel better because Mom didn’t agree with me. She just stared at me with glossy eyes and a heartbreaking smile that told me she didn’t think so.
“Mia, you have to be strong for me. I wanted to be honest about this but you make it so difficult because I don’t want to see you cry.” She wiped some tears from my cheeks. “I don’t know if I’ll survive this surgery. I don’t feel as strong as I did the first time around.”
“No,” I whispered, my heart hurting. “Don’t say that.”
“Mia, it’s true,” she said. I curled up next to her and rested my head on her shoulder, my body jerking back and forth as hiccups escaped my lips. I couldn’t lose Mom. I couldn’t. I loved her so much it hurt. She was the only person I loved unconditionally. She had taught me so much. I grasped onto her, listening to the steady rhythm of her heart and didn’t know if that would be the last time I heard it.
She rested her cheek on my head and gently stroked my hair. “I love you so much, Sweetheart, and I just wanted you to know that whatever happens, I will always be with you.”
“Mom,” I choked out. “Please… don’t say that.” My whole heart was hurting.
“I need you to be strong, Mia. You are an amazing woman, and I want you to know that you can make your own decisions. Don’t depend on someone. Don’t let any man rule you. Don’t let things go unchecked. I want you to be happy and healthy and to live without regrets.”
“Mom, stop.” Tears were streaming down my cheeks and staining her hospital gown. My lips quivered and I wanted to yell at her that she was going to survive this, but I didn’t know if she would.
She took my face in her hands and forced me to look at her. And all I could do was cry even harder. “Promise me that you’ll do that,” she said to me. “I need you to promise me.”
My lips quivered and I shook my head, my chest heaving back and forth. “Mom, please, don’t say this. I… I can’t… I dont want to lose you. I love you so much.” I placed a hand over my mouth to try to hold back my sobs but I couldn’t.
“Listen to me, Mia,” Mom said, her voice stronger this time. I couldn’t resist looking her into her eyes which--while they looked so sad--were so damn strong. “Promise me that you won’t take any more abuse from a man, that you will finish school no matter what happens, that you’ll be happy in every aspect of your life because you can’t live with regrets. I want you to succeed in life, in your career, in your family. Make a family and be happy. Visit me when I’m gone. Okay?”
I blinked, trying to push away the tears, but I couldn’t. So, I just nodded my head and bit my lip, holding back my hiccups. “I promise you.” I grasped her face in my shaky hands. “I promise you.”
Dr. Jackson knocked on the metal door and popped his head into the room. “It’s time,” he said to Mom. “Mia, I’m going to have to ask you to wait in the waiting room with your family and friends.”
My lips quivered, and I pulled Mom closer to me and into a tight hug. She hugged me back, wrapping her arms tightly around me and holding me so close because we didn’t know if this was the last time we would ever see each other.
I held her for as long as I could, resting my head against hers and sobbing so loudly that everyone could hear me. “Mom, I love you with all my heart.” Tears streamed down my cheeks.
“Mia,” Dr. Jackson said again, resting his hand on my shoulder. “It’s time to go.”
But I didn’t want to let go of Mom. I didn’t want to never see her again. I loved her so fucking much and something was telling me that this was the last time I’d ever see her like this. She was the only family I had left, the only person I could turn to that would love me unconditionally, the only person I loved unconditionally.
“Mia,” Dr. Jackson said.
Mom pulled away from me, eyes filled with tears. “I love you, Sweetheart.”
Dr. Jackson grabbed my arms lightly and pulled me to the door, yet I didn’t take my eyes off of Mom the entire time. I didn’t want to leave her. I couldn’t leave her. I… I couldn’t. As soon as the door closed, I buckled over, unable to hold myself up. Everything hurt so fucking bad. I didn’t want this to be the last time I ever saw her.
A nurse grabbed my hand. “Please, Ms. Mia, let’s get you to the waiting room.”
I stood up onto two trembling legs and stumbled to the waiting room. Tears raced down my cheeks, I could barely see through the tears in my eyes, loud shuddering sobs were escaping my throat.
And when I turned the corner into the waiting room, I found the first open seat and collapsed down into it, curling up into a ball and crying my eyes out.
A/N If you want to read the rest of this trilogy right now, you can find it on Patreon (Click “Support Me” in my bio!)