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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Spring Comes After the Rain

It was a gray day. Christine looked out from the window as the rain spat against the glass, her eyes staring up at the bruised belly of the clouds blocking the heavens. The murmur of a prayer stayed locked at the back of her throat, as the door of the waiting room swung open. She jumped up as soon as she saw it was the surgeon coming out of the operating room.

She asked apprehensively: "How is my little boy? Is he going to be all right? When can I see him?"

The surgeon said in a blunt, but respectful manner, "I'm sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn't make it."

Christine didn't register the doctor's words at first.

The surgeon asked, "Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes..." He held her hand quickly, the brusque professional manner dimmed. "Mrs Thompson...we always knew this was a possibility."

Christine asked the nurse to stay with her while she said good-bye to her son.

This can't really be happening, she thought miserably. The shock had numbed her, but she could feel reality slowly seeping in, breath by breath, thawing her dreamy-like state.

She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick black curly hair and suddenly felt as though a dam of emotions had burst open inside her. She looked at the nurse.

"Why do little children die? Doesn't God care any more? Where were you, God, when my son needed you?" She lowered her voice then, "My Matt had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could. You know he even wanted to donate his organs? He said it might help somebody else. I said no, but Matt said, Mum, I won't be using my body after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mum."

The drive home was difficult. She left the bag with Matthew's belongings in the back seat of her car, where he had slept so soundly as a child. Car drives around the street block had been the only way to get him to sleep as a baby.

It was even harder to enter the empty house. She went straight to her son's room. She stared at the model cars and other personal things in his room, exactly the way he had left them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his Superman pillow, cried herself to sleep.

It was around midnight when Christine suddenly awoke. Laying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. Rubbing her eyes, she reached for the paper, smiling tenderly at the familiar scrawls on the page. The letter said:

Dear Mum,

I know you're going to miss me, but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just because I'm not around to say I LOVE YOU. I will always love you, Mum, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy or girl so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. Give them my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl get her to take care of my cars. I know if she's like you she'll take real good care of them, just like you took care of me Mum. Don't be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around a little, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. You remember how so many times I felt like flying, but you'd tell me to hang on? But it's okay now Mum. And, you know what? I told the angels that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you goodbye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, you know what Mum? They handed me some paper and God's own personal pen to write you this letter. One of the angels is going to drop this letter off to you. I've cut off a lock of my hair to send to you. God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him 'Where was He when I needed him?' God said He was in the same place with me. He was right there, beside me Mum. He was your love.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore. The pain is all gone. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent the angels to come get me. They said I was a Special Delivery! How about that?

Tell the nurse thank you, too. She did just fine.

Signed with Love from: God, the angels & Me.

The last words became blurred, as the tears cascaded down her eyes. She fell back on to the bed and cried herself to sleep.

She woke the next morning to a call from the hospital. She had left some of Matthew's things behind and could she possibly come in straight away? She gave a dull yes in reply, and put the phone's receiver back in its cradle.

Remembering the letter, she looked around for her little boy's momento. She frowned. She couldn't see it anywhere. She searched the entire room, and felt terrible when she realised there had been no letter. It had just been a dream.

Outside it was a bright day. The clouds had healed into puffy plumes of white cotton, and life seemed to taunt her.

Christine tried not to think as she approached the hospital. The nurse from the day before was waiting for her, with a box in her hands. She took the box, without smiling, and turned back to walk to the car.

"Wait," the nurse called from behind her. "You dropped this."

Christine turned and looked at the object in the nurse's right hand.

"It looks like a lock of Matthew's hair," the nurse said.

Christine nodded, struck dumb, looking at the lock of the black curly hair, neatly wrapped in a plastic bag. What was it her little boy had written in his letter? I've cut off a lock of my hair to send to you.

As the nurse handed it over to Christine, she said, "You know I forgot to tell you something yesterday."

"What?"

"Your boy came out of the anaesthesia just before - before he passed away. He whispered something to me." The nurse looked embarrassed.

"What was it?"

"He said, 'Mum, can I fly now?' And I - I told him he could. I hope that was okay?"

Christine looked at the spring day, the pavements still wet from yesterday's rain, but glistening now under the sun.

"Yes," she managed to say, clutching at her son's lock of hair. "You did just fine."

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