The impact of a death in the family and the pain that follows.
|A Death in the Family
In loving memory of my honorary brother, Caleb Andrew Yinger, 11/25/89-2/9/06
The doctors said repeatedly that Natalie was going to die. The cancer was spreading through her body and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Oh, Natalie had prayed and cried and begged for a freedom from this fatal disease. But once the killer disease was loosed, what could anyone do?
Natalie was sixteen, young and vibrant, always eager to lend a hand. Her short brown hair curled joyously around her face and her hazel eyes crackled with life. That was the description anyone of her friends or family would have given you a while ago. But today, after another chemotherapy treatment, that description fit Natalie like a ‘one size fits all’ hat. Her hair was still brown but the curls sagged and it only framed her face in clumps. Her hazel eyes still crackled but now it was with pain when her dose of morphine was too low.
Natalie’s mother sat on the bed next to her daughter, gently stroking her head as Natalie threw up again. The ragged sobs and shudders racked Natalie’s young body, causing her mother acute pain as she watched her daughter’s will to live slowly die.
“Oh, my Nat, my poor girl,” whispered her mother as another heave of bile spilled into the bucket. Natalie looked at her mother and her eyes conveyed all the pain and sorrow, so much so that her mother had to turn her head before her daughter saw her tears.
“Mom?” Natalie croaked after her stomach settled for a moment. “Mom? It really hurts!” Natalie’s mother began to cry, this was the first time her beloved daughter had ever admitted to the extreme pain. The realization that it was bad enough for her daughter to confess combined with the thought there was nothing she could do to make it easier for her baby girl wreaked havoc in her maternal soul.
Natalie cried and so did her mother. The sheets became soaked with tears in a tangible sign of love and grief. When her father entered the hospital room with Natalie’s twin Melanie in tow, they both found Natalie asleep. Natalie’s mother was sitting quietly in the plastic chair, reading her New King James.
“Honey, how is she?” Natalie’s father asked. He looked sadly at his sick daughter lying on the bed, her pale skin almost translucent. He could almost see the medications flowing through her veins, attempting to heal her.
“Nat had a…a rough day. Oh Bill…I doubt she’ll make it to remission!” Natalie’s mother confessed, flinging herself into her husband’s comforting arms. Both parents overlooked Melanie.
Melanie walked to her twin’s bed and sat down on the edge of it. She looked at Natalie’s damp hair and grimaced at what cancer had reduced her sister to. “Oh Nat,” she murmured brokenly, “You’ve just got to get better! Nat, make an effort, please!”
Natalie rolled over in her sleep until pain awakened her. “Mom!” she moaned, “Mom, I hurt!” The rawness of her voice made her mother want to curl up into a ball and scream. What sort of world was this when she, the mother, could do absolutely nothing to help her poor, dying daughter?! She looked at Natalie with pain etched all over her face and then went out to find a nurse for more morphine.
Too soon, it was over. Natalie’s cancer had been swift, as quick and decisive as an unyielding and bitter judge. The memorial service was held at the family’s church, First Baptist of Geneva. Natalie lay in the coffin, dressed in a pretty summer dress and surrounded by flowers. Her father stood up at the pulpit and delivered the eulogy.
“My daughter was a gift from God. Her very presence made you smile and the light in her eyes made your heart stop. When she passed on to be with the Lord on Friday, I thought that the cancer had won. But the cancer that killed my Natalie did not win because the Natalie that I kissed good-night, the daughter I played with, the beloved girl I read to, and the teenager I taught to drive is the Natalie that will still live on in our memories.”
Natalie’s father sat down next to his wife as their remaining daughter made her was up the aisle and to the pulpit.
“My sister was my best friend. I gotta say that I thought I would be standing next to her at her wedding, not speaking at her funeral. This wasn’t what I ever expected. All the graduation, wedding, and travel plans that we giggled about won’t be put into action and realizing that is hard. But I know my sister loves me, I know she doesn’t want us to grieve, because that is how she would have lived. My sister is the most amazing person ever…just look at how she dedicated years of her time to helping at St. Jude’s Orphanage and visiting the elderly at the retirement center. Nat never focused on herself, only others. My sister is a testament to all that is good…” Melanie broke down, the tears streaming down her face, the pull of emotions so strong.
By four o’clock that afternoon, in the cemetery a coffin lay six feet under, covered by loose dirt. Natalie’s body lay cold and stone-like, ignorant of the birds singing to warm summer’s day above her.
When the teenage girls at Geneva High School looked from Natalie’s empty locker to a sad faced Melanie the following day, they pointed and whispered to each other, “There has been a death in the family.”
Brief History -- This was the first story I ever wrote and I wrote it for a contest. It had a word limit of 1,000 words and it must mention "There has been a death in the family". After my beloved brother died on February 9, 2006, I took this story back out and changed/re-wrote a bit. To all my readers, please keep your loved ones close!! May God bless each and every one of you!