Dying woman gets help from an unknown source
Mother’s Last Act
I, Katie Kennedy, lay in the corner wondering when it would end. The floor was bare except for the rusty spring bed in the corner across and a scarred bureau in the center of the other wall. I looked up at the bald light bulb staring back. Then it started again, the shakes. They rattled my bones, and I just held on for the ride, hoping my racing heart wouldn’t give out. My dad always said we had good hearts in our family. I needed that now because mine was racing, and the finish line was death. The shaking came to a slow stop.
This had been going on for hours now. It was sometime during the middle of the day. My so-called friends left during the night, when it was obvious I was going into DT seizures. They wouldn’t call anyone because someone might recognize them. Geniuses. When they found my dead body someone might recognize them then too. But I never did think I was hanging out with a smart bunch of people. They were conniving, thieving, and ruthless, yes, but intelligent? No way. But who am I to judge, I had stopped using my brain a long time ago. It was about two years ago when stuffing the grief of my mother’s death didn’t work and drugs did. That was when I hit the ‘off’ switch to my brain and my emotions. Since that time I had spent all my money and anyone else’s, until I had ended up here, on the streets
I had moved my location from an upper class neighborhood to this latest sleazy motel called the Vagabond, where I had smoked my last hit of crack and then started to drop like a rock from a cliff. The booze leaving my system left me dehydrated, and the crack left me, well, it just left me. I was hit with another shaking jag, and when I was finished I leaned my dry head against the cool wall. I needed water in the worst way. I couldn’t walk well enough to get to the sink to try to suck some brown water out of the rusty pipes, even if I had wanted that crap. No, I was resigned that I was going down with the ship, and it was just as well. I was just a disappointment and loser. My family and old friends wouldn’t talk to me, and put their hands on their wallets when I was around. I didn’t blame them.
I could feel another shake coming on, and I thought this one might do the trick, might be the end of it all. I shook for a full minute, and then I toppled over on my side. I struck something when I hit the hard, sticky linoleum floor. I laid there gasping trying to get my breath back, and then I opened my desiccated eyes. Not two inches from my nose was a bottle of water. I hitched myself up onto my elbow and reached for the bottle. I didn’t want to drink it. I was so beyond thirst and just living in nausea that even water had no allure. But it was fun to look at, watching the beads of water build up on the outside of the bottle. It made me thirsty just to see it. But my stomach slammed shut, and I shuddered at the thought of putting anything in it.
However, for some reason I decided to open the top and smell it. I knew I couldn’t drink it. I would just throw it right back up. I closed it, and the coolness and the crisp, fresh smell made me long to drink it.
Then, with the sound of trumpets, a voice whispered in my ear, “Drink it slowly, honey. I’ll always be here with you.”
I held to a perfect stillness. But how can you disobey a whisper. So I drank enough just to wet the inside of my mouth, and then I waited a while. I wet my mouth again and waited again. Then I drank just a sliver of liquid down my parched throat. It took me an hour and half to drink that one bottle, and when it was done I thought, well that was nice. Then I looked down, and there was another cool bottle waiting for my consumption. After about two hours I had drunk three bottles, but I was still so tired and weak.
Then again that whisper came, “Go to sleep, honey.”
I couldn’t sleep. I craved sleep desperately but the chambers of my mind would not rest. Always thinking, thinking, thinking. I couldn’t get off the Ferris wheel. My thinking wasn’t fast or slow, but it never stopped. My heart raced my thinking and flew laps around it. They were both beating the life out of me.
Again, “Get into bed and sleep. I’ll always be here with you.”
Somehow when the voice said it would be there, it made me feel better. I had decided I had died and gone to hell or I was hallucinating, but I was just going to go along with it anyway. So I crawled to the saggy bed and lifted myself into it and lay there, wide awake. I didn’t know what happened next, because the next thing I know I opened my eyes, and the sun was either rising or setting. When I got into bed it was past noon. I looked at my watch. The sun was rising. I had slept from just after noon to about 6:00 a.m. the next morning. I got up physically feeling like I might live. I grabbed my things and staggered to the door. I tried to sneak out without paying, but the manager caught me.
“Your friends paid for the first week, but you owe for the last two days.”
I scrounged around in my bag knowing I had no money. Then I came upon some cash, I had no idea I had where it had come from. It was enough to pay the manager and no more.
“Here you go.” I had cheated death with the help of an angel. No, not an angel, this voice was more familiar. I couldn’t quite place it.
I jumped into my beat up old civic, and went to turn on the ignition when I saw the picture. It was a picture of my mom and me in Hawaii. It was all ragged and tattered, but I kept it taped to the dash nonetheless. In the picture, we are by some cliffs with the water spraying up behind us. We are both smiling, enjoying the moment to the fullest. It was after that trip we found out my mom had cancer, and she was dead in six months. I was on crack in a year and two years later I was lost to the streets. The dream was over except in that picture. I had a sudden idea, and I jumped out of the car, and called to a man passing by.
“What day is it?” I frantically asked the man.
“It’s May 26th,” he said, then rushed away.
I didn’t care. May 26th. How could I have forgotten? Yesterday was my birthday. I got back in my beat up car and looked at the picture. I looked at both of us smiling into the camera so happy and full of the future. I know it was farfetched, but it was my belief to believe. I felt that my mother had come to me when I was dying and had, one more time, given me life, just like she had twenty-two years ago.
From where had the water come? The voice? It kept saying, “I’ll always be here with you.” The money too! I must have sat in stunned silence for an hour, and then I started my car and drove in a daze. I had no idea where I was going until I parked outside my father’s house. I expected him to slam the door in my face or not answer at all, but instead he came out with my sister and younger brother. They ran to me as I tottered up the path, not quite understanding what was happening.
Then my dad explained. “The kids and I all had the same dream of you dead in a horrible motel room. But then you came home to us, and you stayed. You got better. Now here you are, like in the dream!”
“Was Mom in the dream?” I asked.
My Dad looked at me in utter surprise, and then he started to cry, “She was behind you.”
I did stay and eventually recovered. It wasn’t all easy and sometimes it was as hard as that motel room but always behind me was that whisper, “I’ll always be here with you.”