Martha’s feet hesitated over the dried leaves that travelled from the desolated street through the broken, partially unhinged front door. She touched the old, chipped doorframe and took a deep breath, still feeling the warmth of the place that we once called home.
“Looks like things haven’t changed a bit, have they?” I smiled at her.
“Things might have changed, but it all still feels the same…” she mused as her voice faded with the rising dust, as she finally found the courage to step through the door. We walked along the old paint-ridden wall of the house as we savoured every moment because our time was running out.
The silence that we carried inside echoed through the now uneven, shaky floorboards as her eyes swept across the tired walls of the dimly-lit hallways. Even though the frames were coated in dust, the memories that resided in them were still fresh in her mind.
“I could go on and on, telling you the stories behind each photo, but I know that it will never get over in a lifetime.” I mused.
“I know that you always loved to fill our little abode with beautiful memories, no matter how little they were,” Martha said, tracing her young fingers through the old photos, “You always said that-“
“-memories are the greatest gift that we can give each other,” we completed that thought together. We smiled and reminisced the memory of that particular portrait as we both teared up. It was a beautiful portrait of the both of us, taken at Martha’s fifteenth birthday.
“You should… not blame yourself… for what happened that day…” I told her, hoping that she would forgive herself for that fateful night. But, no matter what happened, I knew that the pain would still stay.
I could read her mind. I could see how guilty she felt for driving with me that night, on our way back home from her fifteenth birthday. I could see how her heart broke with regret as she dodged the truck driven by a drunken man. I could see the horror on her face as she was aware of her unavoidable fate, as the totalled car toppled over. I could see her world end when the last thing she witnessed was my lifeless body.
As her family, I wanted her to know that I had forgiven her. As her friend, I wanted her to know that I still loved her.
But, more important than ever, as her mother, I wanted her to see me just as I could see her before my time ran out and I would vanish-faded away into oblivion.
Because, as much as I accepted my own death…
…I wanted her to accept her own.