The End of My Story

The End of My Story

We forget all too soon the things we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. We don’t realize in the moment but those precious, beautiful memories can just disappear in seconds. And you’ll never know when or how.

My name is Eleanor Smith and this is the story of my life.

***

Eleanor’s eyes fluttered open. The curtains were drawn apart, bringing in golden sunrays through the windows. The bare walls were… well, still bare. The room was empty except for the bed in the middle, accompanied with a lonely bedside table. The only color in the room was the miserable plant pot that sat on the windowsill.

Nothing could make her happy here.

She hated it at first, but with time the feelings dissolved. Leaving her with an emptiness. how long can you hate the place you live in? Or rather forced to live in.

The only thing that she enjoyed throughout her day were her phone calls with Lauren and Rosie. It was the only thing that truly got her through the day.

The door slid open with a squeak. This could only mean two things – Lauren was here for her visit or it was the same old nurse who came in every day with her medicines. She wished so hard it was not the latter.

‘Hey, Mom!’

Eleanor was so glad to hear her daughter’s soft voice. It was the one thing that never left her head. She looked at the bottom of her bed to see Lauren smiling bright.

‘Hi, Laur,’ Eleanor smiled but her voice was croaky. She barely sounded like herself. Coming to this miserable place, having nothing to do, and no one to talk to had changed her.

‘How’re you feeling?’

‘Fit as a fiddle!’ Eleanor replied with a shrug and a cheeky smile.

If there was one thing that hadn’t changed, it was Eleanor’s humor. Always the same. Lauren laughed while shaking her head. ‘Rosie misses you. She had a thing at her school today, so she couldn’t come along.’

A soft knock at the door interrupted their conversation. The two women looked towards the door in sync. A familiar head popped in.

‘Alondra! Hi!’ Lauren went in for a hug. Alondra laughed and reciprocated but it sounded hollow. She wasn’t her cheery self.

‘Hi, Eleanor,’ she said with a smile. ‘Hope you’re doing good?’

Lauren pushed back her brunette hair and asked, ‘Why so glum?’

‘Yeah, um… Can I talk to you for a sec, Lauren? Outside?’ Alondra asked, gesturing outside the room door. The thick Spanish accent rolled off her voice.

‘Yup, be right there,’ Lauren replied before getting out of her seat. Eleanor sighed as the room became silent again.

Outside the door, Lauren went out to see Alondra along with Dr. Simmons. Alondra fiddled with her notepad. She didn’t know how to say it. This was always the hardest part of being a case worker.

When none of them spoke for a while, Lauren had already realized what this was about. The slight ray of hope in her eyes faded into a heartbroken acceptance. She knew this day would come… sooner or later. She just wasn’t ready. She would never be ready.

‘Lauren, your mother…’ Alondra began, clearing her throat. Being the bringer of bad news wasn’t easy. Even though she had to be the one to say it dozens of times before, it never got easier. ‘She… doesn’t have much time left.’

Dr. Simmons nodded along, a grim look on her face. ‘She is in terminal stage. We are giving her medicines to take care of her pain so she doesn’t suffer in her final moments. I am sorry, Ms. Drew. That’s all we can do for her now. There’s nothing else to be done, except wait for…’ he stopped short of stating the obvious.

Lauren’s eyes welled up with tears. Her nightmare had come true. ‘Uh… when does…’ her voice cracked with emotion. She couldn’t muster up the courage to ask the dreaded question. Swallowing the rising lump in her throat, she asked, ‘How many… how long does she have, then?’

Alondra looked down at her feet, avoiding Lauren’s penetrating gaze.

‘A few days, at most. About a week,’ Dr. Simmons replied instead. Lauren wiped away her tears, sniffling slightly. ‘Can… can I take her home?’

Dr. Simmons nodded. ‘Yes, you can. Our staff will make sure she’s comfortable and that she feels alright. They’ll help you with fixing in the IV, the feeding tubes, and the nurse will inform you about the medicines. Call us if there is anything else that you would need.’

Lauren thanked the doctor and Alondra before they walked off and she went back into her mother’s room. She stopped at the door, taking in a breath and wiping off a few more tears that escaped.

Eleanor heard the door creak again, but one look at Lauren’s face and she knew what was going on. 

‘Mom…’ Lauren began to cry again. Eleanor shook her head.

‘Shh… I know. I know… It’s okay, baby. It’s gonna be okay.’ She pulled Lauren in for a hug. Lauren bawled her eyes out in her mother’s arms. Eleanor took in a breath as her eyes began watering, seeking comfort from those empty walls that she once hated.

This is it, then, she thought to herself. The end of my story.

‘Th-they…’ Lauren started, her voice hoarse from the crying. ‘They said I could take you home.’

Home. Eleanor was finally going home. But… it wasn’t because she was cured. She was dying.

***

And soon, Eleanor found herself leaving the building that kept her alive and from being sick while ironically, left her sickening. Ever since she went there, it felt like all colors drained out of her life and everything was just… white.

Plain and empty.

Devoid of life and joy.

As she left the building, the colors seemed to fade back in. Everything seemed so full of colors. Almost as if she was colorblind for years and all of sudden… she just wasn’t. Lauren pushed her mother’s wheelchair out front before helping her into her car. None of them spoke, still recovering from the news they had received moments ago.

Eleanor looked at her daughter in the driver’s seat. She’s become so responsible and independent. She’s become… an adult.

She reminisced the times where Lauren would come to her for everything – be it books, bagels or boys.

Ever since she’d been diagnosed with bronchial cancer, the roles had switched. Lauren wasn’t her carefree, playful self. That side of her rarely came out, and more than ever, the mom side – as she called it – came out.

‘Mom!’ Eleanor heard the 17-year-old call out from downstairs. ‘I’m home!’

As she heard her daughter walking up the stairs, she tried to clear up the mess she’d made. Wouldn’t want Lauren to worry, right?

‘Mom?’ She called out again. The bathroom floor was still a mess. She tried cleaning up frantically but to no avail. She was tired.

Lauren banged on the door. ‘Mom? Are you okay?’

Eleanor tried to give out an answer but right there, in front of her, was Lauren.

‘Oh, my God, Mom! What happened? Are you okay?’ The words stumbled out of her mouth as she saw her mother sitting down on the bathroom floor, resting against the cabinet. She got down on her knees and helped her mother up.

‘I… I’m okay. I just…’ she barely got the words out of her mouth, her eyes drooping as she coughed up. Lauren carried her over to the bed and made sure she was comfortable.

‘I’m calling Dr. Simmons.’

Although she never said it, Eleanor felt guilty. Lauren had paused her life to take care of her, while she could’ve been enjoying and partying till midnight.

‘Mom?’ Lauren waved her hands in front of her mother’s eyes. ‘Earth to Eleanor!’

‘Hmm?’ Eleanor shook her head, snapping out of her trance. ‘Y-Yes.’

‘You okay?’ She asked. Eleanor nodded with a soft smile. ‘I am.’

‘Let’s go.’

***

‘Granny!’ Rosie ran from in front of the house as soon as the car came to a stop. Lauren helped her mother out of the car and within a heartbeat, Rosie was all over her grandmother. Eleanor laughed heartily as she jumped onto her arms. The front yard was decorated with bright flower pots and a cute, little swing set.

‘Rosie, be careful,’ Lauren warned in between laughs. It was that same care-free laugh that brought back a million memories in Eleanor’s head.

‘Mom, Mom, Mom!’ Lauren squealed into the phone. She spoke so fast, it was a surprise that Eleanor even understood her.

‘Lauren!’ Eleanor shrieked back. ‘I have great news!’

‘I’ve something to tell you!’ They both said in sync before breaking into a fit of giggles.

‘You go first,’ they said as one, once again.

Lauren laughed, ‘Alright, you go.’

‘I went to the doctor’s today. They said I don’t have cancer anymore. I’m- I’m cancer free!’

A feeling of overwhelming happiness and relief seized Lauren as she said, ‘Oh, my God! Mom! That’s amazing!’

Eleanor nodded, sniffling again. ‘What’s your great news?’

‘I… I’m pregnant, Mom!’ Eleanor was silent for a while. ‘…Mom?’

Lauren heard sniffles through the phone. She was about to speak again before she was cut off by an exciting scream. Eleanor was bubbling with happiness.

‘Oh, my- I can’t believe it! That’s so great, I’m going to be a grandma!’ She cried out with joy.

That was the happiest day in their lives. But little did they know back then, that moment of happiness would not last forever. The cancer would return – just worse than ever.

‘Granny?’ Rosie jumped onto the couch next to Eleanor. ‘Yes, love?’

‘What is that thing on your head? It’s so pretty!’

Eleanor settled back in her seat. ‘Ah, this?’ She pointed to the bandana sitting on her hairless head. ‘That’s a bandana! Do you like it?’

Rosie nodded enthusiastically. ‘Well, not to worry, but…’ She paused, digging into her purse. ‘I got one for you, too!’

She brought out a pink and blue patterned bandana out of her purse, handing it over to the 6-year-old. Eleanor chuckled at Rosie’s failed attempt to put on the bandana before helping her out. ‘First, you need to make a triangular shape. You grab the two edges…’ she did so, before saying, ‘and then put it against your forehead.’ She did that as well, before explaining the next steps. ‘Lift the tringle tip, then tie it using the other two edges at the back of your head.’

She slowly continued to explain and demonstrate the following directions. ‘Got it?’

Rosie scratched a finger against her hair, a muddled pout sitting on her pink lips. She slowly shook her head. ‘Um… no. I’m confused. Very confused.’

Eleanor’s eyes turned into small crescents as she laughed softly. ‘You’ll learn, eventually.’

‘What are all these tubes around you, Granny?’ Rosie pointed to the IV tube.

‘Rosie, darling, the questions can wait. Alright? Let Granny rest for a bit.’

Lauren brought her mother a glass of water as Rosie continued to run around the house.

‘Granny, Granny! Why do you have these tubes?’

‘Well, Granny did not eat much vegetables when she was a child so now, she’s become so weak that she can’t even chew her own food!’ she explained and Rosie gasped, her eyebrows raising up wide.

‘I promise I’ll eat my veggies!’

Lauren heard her mother and Rosie laughing and enjoying in the living room. How am I supposed to live without you, Mom?

‘Hey, Rosie? Get over here for a sec!’ Lauren shouted from her bedroom.

‘Coming, Mommy!’

‘Here, Granny,’ she handed over a stuffed bunny from nearby. ‘This is Ms. Penelope. She will stay with you till I get back!’ Rosie got off of her grandmother’s lap and waddled off into the bedroom.

Eleanor heard soft whispers from the room and chuckled unconsciously.

‘Laurie!’ Eleanor called Lauren over to the kitchen. ‘Come here!’

Lauren giggled and thumped her feet across the living room excitedly. ‘Yes, Mommy?’

Eleanor smiled and gestured to a covered up container on the slab. ‘Look what I made you!’

The 6-year-old’’s eyes went up wide as she climbed up the counter and opened up the lid to reveal a chocolate cake. ‘Cake!’ She squealed and clapped her hands.

‘Yesss!’ Eleanor picked up her daughter and gently tapped her on the nose.

‘Mom, you bake the best cakes in the whole world!’ Lauren spoke while gobbling up the chocolate cake.

Eleanor laughed at the small yet vivid memory in her mind. Lauren and Rosie hopped back onto the couch, Rosie turning on the TV. ‘Hey, Laur?’

‘Hm?’ Lauren hummed in response, turning towards her mother. ‘I’m… going to tell you a secret.’

‘Uh… okay? Go on,’ she laughed. ‘Why so serious?’

‘Alright, but promise me you will not be mad,’ Eleanor warned.

‘Mom, what’s going on?’

‘Just promise me,’ Eleanor repeated and Lauren complied with her mother’s request.

‘Okay,’ Eleanor breathed out. ‘So… Remember that chocolate cake I used to bake that you loved so much?’

Lauren looked skeptical. ‘Uh, yeah? What, so you finally decided to give me the recipe, hmm?’

‘No, not the recipe, as much as the secret. Don’t be mad, but… I never actually made those. I just bought them from Andy’s Bakery from all the way across town.’

Lauren’s mouth went up wide before she began laughing. ‘How could you? I genuinely thought you baked those! That’s cheating!’

Eleanor chortled, her head moving back and forth as she laughed heartily. ‘Sorry! But, it was worth it, was it not? Or would you have rather I burnt down the house instead?’

Her pleasant laughs soon turned into a fit of coughs. Lauren was behind her mother without a delay. ‘Mom. Mom, sit up.’ Helping her up, her coughs soon subsided.

‘Granny, are you okay?’ Rosie glanced at her grandma, her eyes tight with concern and confusion.

Raspy words left Eleanor’s mouth. ‘I’ll be fine, don’t worry.’

Rosie sat on Eleanor’s lap and hugged her closely. ‘Will you become a star like Grandpa, too?’

Eleanor didn’t know how to answer that question. She got teary-eyes at the memory of her late husband. Her throat tightened as she opened her mouth to answer but no words came out. Lauren felt the atmosphere get tense, intervening with a tray with glasses of lemonade.

‘Who wants lemonade?’

‘Me! Me! Me!’ Rosie jumped around the living. Lauren set the tray back onto the table and doubled over in laughter and happiness. She carried Rosie in her arms, spinning her around. 

Innocent, merry, joyful giggles and squeals left the mouth of the 5-year-old. Eleanor watched as her husband, Mike, spun Lauren around in his arms, lifting her high up and down.

‘Mommy, come dance with us!’ Lauren screamed to her mother as Mike lifted her up on his shoulders. Eleanor put down her cup of coffee and jogged over to them.

Joining hands, they all spun in circles to the beats of the music playing in the background.

The fond memory brought tears to Eleanor’s eyes. Oh, what she wouldn’t do to have a few more minutes with Mike.

***

‘I know I’ve taken a week’s break already…’ Lauren spoke into the phone. ‘No, I know. I just… I just need a little longer. My Mom’s here.’

‘Yes, I get that but we need you back here.’

Lauren sighed. She looked at Rosie introducing her bears, bunnies and dogs to Eleanor. It had been long since she saw her mother laughing and smiling as much. Despite her knowing her fate, she still tried to stay as cheerful and happy. She was drawn and pale – and getting paler as the days went by, with dark circles underlining her usually light eyes.

But for a long time, that care-free smile hadn’t appeared on her face. And she might even be happier than she was before. And in the end, that was all that mattered.

‘Lauren? Are you there?’

‘Yes, I’m here. Please, just one more week.’

This time, it was her boss’s turn to sigh. ‘Alright,’ he said, ‘Fine. But just another week. No longer.’

Lauren let out a relieving breath. ‘I promise. Thank you so much!’ They bade their goodbyes and she disconnected the phone call.

As Rosie and Eleanor spent their time in the front yard doing who-knows-what, Lauren managed to sneak into her room. She looked through an old phone book, few song lists, cooking recipes, anything that could be of help. She knew that her mother would want a fun night – even if it ended up being her last.

After 20 minutes of calling, searching and calling and searching, Lauren finally came out of her room. She wore a red and black flannel over a pair of black leggings. She had that mischievous look on her face that she’d have when she used to get a sneak peek at her Christmas presents.

‘Mom?’ she called out.

‘Yes, honey?’

Lauren walked into the living room to see her mother on the couch, watching Rosie dance and sing along to the TV. She took a seat next to her. ‘How are you feeling? Are you okay?’

‘I’m never okay. But yes, I’m fine. I’m happy,’ Eleanor replied, ruffling her daughter’s hair. ‘What have you been doing for so long in there?’

‘Well… just a little planning,’ Lauren replied with an excited smile.

‘I’m going to give you the best night of your life!’ She squealed and her eyes sparkled with happiness.

Eleanor smiled. She could almost see the old Lauren. That 16-year-old with nothing but happiness in her life. She missed the old her.

‘Alright, then. Whatever you say! But I am telling you, nothing can beat that party I threw for you in the third grade!’

Lauren shook her head while still smiling. ‘Alright, alright. We’ll see,’ she added with a wink.

‘Yes, we will.’ Eleanor held her head up high with fake pride.

***
At the sound of the doorbell, Lauren rushed to the living room from the kitchen. ‘Mom,’ she dragged out the ‘m’ at the end. ‘I think that’s for you!’

Eleanor giggled as Lauren came behind her and wheeled her towards the door. ‘Well, go on! Open the door, Mom!’

She opened the door, and to her big surprise, all of her friends and neighbors stood their bearing bright beams on their faces and big presents in their hands.

‘SURPRISE!’ They all yelled in sync.

Eleanor covered her mouth with her hands. ‘Oh, my God…’ Her eyes flickered through each person standing at the door. ‘Dave, Sandy, Thomas! I can’t believe my eyes! Candice, you flew down all the way here?!’ 

But that was not all! Eleanor was elated to see them all dressed in beach themed clothes. She remembered, Eleanor thought to herself.

She had once told Lauren that if she ever planned to throw a party for her when she was… well, old. She wanted it to be a party with a summer theme and not bingo and other “lame” games.

‘Can we come in, already?’

‘Oh- yeah, yeah!’ Eleanor laughed. ‘Since when do you ask to come in, Dave?’

David rolled his eyes but smiled right after. All of the guests dragged their feet into the living room, taking a seat on the couch.

‘Phew! I’m so tired… You know I just took another course of antibiotics for my urine problem?’ Thomas huffed.

‘Can we not talk about your interesting diseases for once?’ Candice grunted. ‘Remember, we are here for a party!’

Lauren wheeled her back to the living room. ‘This is a great surprise. Thank you, Lauren,’ she whispered, holding Lauren’s hand over her shoulder. Lauren snickered. ‘Better than my third grade party, now?’

Eleanor shook her head, chuckling silently, before whispering, ‘Nope. Not yet.’

‘Well, the party has just started!’

Lauren rushed over to the speakers and began playing ‘Barbara Ann’ by the Beach Boys. Eleanor’s ideal party.

Candice and Sandy began bopping their heads to the rhythm while Dave danced in his seat. ‘Oh, it’s been so long! Kids these days listen to something called K-pop!’

‘Yes, finally. This is what music really is! Not that noise!’

‘Oh, come on! K-pop is fun! You are just a bunch of oldies,’ Eleanor teased. Her lips curled up at everyone’s moves around the room. She wished she could dance along. But she didn’t let that bring her down. The sadness was just a little drop in a large pool of happiness.

‘So, Sandy. Still all sleepy?’ she began as the music came to an end and everyone sat back down. Sleepy Sandy was the nickname all their friends had given him. What? He was always sleepy!

Sandy looked over at her and made a mocking face. ‘Hardy, har, har. You’re funny.’ He laughed out loud. ‘Yup. And you? Still cracking jokes at the worst times?’

‘Yup,’ Eleanor mimicked.

‘Granny, are these all your friends?’ Rosie jumped out from her room. Eleanor chuckled and pulled her over. ‘Yes, they are! Everyone, this is Rosie – my granddaughter.’

They all gushed over the little girl in a bright yellow skirt and a lei standing in front of them. ‘Aloha!’ She said while twirling on her toes. 

Eleanor poked Rosie on her cheek. ‘Did you know about this, Rosie?’

Rosie giggled and hopped from one foot to another, unable to contain her excitement. ‘Yes, I did! I also have something for all of you!’

Without waiting for a reply, she waddled back into her room, leaving the adults in the room laughing silently.

‘I am here!’ She screamed and all heads turned towards her. And there she stood, poorly carrying about 6 leis in her small, little hands.

‘Aww! Pass them on!’ Eleanor dissolved into laughter as Rosie tried to help her put on the lei but failed miserably.

‘Having fun, are we?’ Lauren asked as she slid into the room, carrying a tray full of drinks and chips. ‘So, I’ve got lemonade, pina colada, and OJ! Who wants which one?’

‘I want the one with the pink umbrella!’ Rosie squealed over the music. ‘Please!’ She added.

‘Alright,’ Lauren smiled, handing the glass of orange juice over to the little girl. ‘Here you go!’

‘Thanks, Mommy!’

Lauren placed the tray on the coffee table, while everyone dug into the bowl of chips.

‘So, did you guys get me some presents? I mean, this might be the last time you see me, right?’ 

‘Well, yes, we did. But I am pretty sure you’ll probably haunt us after you’re gone. So, no, we sure will see you again,’ Dave retorted. 

‘Oh, so you did get me presents!’ She said, completely ignoring the second part of his response. 

‘Okay! So, present number one…’ she lifted a present from the couch nearby. It had a blue wrapping around it, labeled ‘To Eleanor, from Candice.’

‘Ooh, Candice! This is from you.’

Candice covered her mouth and giggled and Eleanor didn’t understand why. ‘This better not be some pie-in-the-face present!’

‘It’s not, it’s not! Not all of us are still 8-years-old. You’ll love it!’

‘Okay, if you say so…’ she replied, still narrowing her eyes at the present. Opening it, she found a faded pink scarf lined with intricate embroidery. Eleanor gasped, her lips parting slightly with surprise.

‘Is this what I think it is?’

She flipped the cloth over only to have her suspicions confirmed. In black marker, it said, you have the most gorgeous eyes. – E

‘Oh, my Gosh, I really thought I lost it! How do you still have this?’ She said through her laughter.

‘I just do!’

‘What is that, Granny? Show me, show me!’ Rosie asked, peeking into her grandmother’s hands to see what she was holding.

‘Oh, this…’

‘Okay… here goes!’ Eleanor and Candice sneaked behind the wall, their eyes on the school’s famous quarterback. He tossed his ball around the playground, his focus only on the ball and nothing else. ‘Um, I can’t do this!’ Eleanor whisper-shouted.

‘Chicken! Come on, it’s a dare. You have to!’

Eleanor sighed. ‘Fine.’ 

She took one last look at the cloth in her hand and rolled it into a ball. Letting out a nervous breath, she threw the cloth as far as she could. Michael’s focus was disturbed and he finally looked up from the ground and at the cloth ball that landed in front of him. As soon as he opened it, Eleanor closed her eyes. She regretted doing it the moment he picked up the ball.

Michael laughed hard at the note, looking around for anyone who might have threw it. His eyes fell on two girls giggling and running away through the halls.

He chuckled softly. ‘Hello, E.’

‘This is the reason your grandfather and I met.’ A fond smile played on her lips. Lauren smiled and said, ‘I’ve probably heard that story a million times!’

‘She’s exaggerating,’ Eleanor groaned. ‘Not a million times!’

‘Yes. I wonder who she got that from!’ Thomas said with a knowing smile.

‘Oh, please!’ Eleanor exclaimed. ‘You’re one to say! You were the one to stretch a small argument into school fight! And when the whole school showed up in that hall and they were all so disappointed.’

‘Okay, okay, fine. Guilty! It was fun, though, admit it.’

A murmur of agreement went around the room.

‘Shall we eat?’ Thomas asked and his stomach whole-heartedly agreed by growling, successfully making everyone laugh. 

‘Really? Are you sure you are hungry?’ Candice asked, the sarcasm evident in her voice.

‘Huh? Of course, I’m hungry, but was that thunder?’ Thomas made a lame excuse and walked off to the dining table. Everyone chuckled, shaking their heads before following suit.

***

Eleanor lay down on the incliner bed while Rosie and Lauren sat on either side. They shared childhood memories, Lauren and Eleanor playfully arguing over things while Rosie giggled.

‘So, that was fun. Wasn’t it?’ 

‘Yes, it really was. Thank you, Laur,’ Eleanor replied. ‘And… it might have even been better than your 3rd grade party.’

Lauren gasped and threw her fists in the air. ‘Aha! I knew it! It was really great, wasn’t it?’

‘Yes, yes. How come you’re not at work today?’ 

Lauren fixed up the bandana on her mother’s head. ‘I don’t need to be there. Besides, I want to be with you.’

Eleanor smiled and for a moment, Lauren could see the stars in her eyes. 

‘You know, I never took you out for that celebratory meal after you got your first job,’ Eleanor mentioned.

Lauren snorted. ‘Nice of you to mention that now. What, are you trying to get your way out of it?’

‘Well…’ Eleanor laughed. Lauren smiled at her mother.

‘I already got a lot of those Andy’s cakes that you lied to me about, anyway. So, I’m good, thanks.’

Eleanor sniggered. ‘You are never going to let that go, are you?’

‘Nope! Never!’

Lauren moved closer to her mother and gave her a hug. ‘It’s alright. I’m happy without that meal, anyway.’

‘Yeah? That’s good.’ She chortled. ‘Because I don’t think I’ll be able to take you out anymore. It’d be more like you taking me out.’

Eleanor pulled Rosie closer to herself and pecked her forehead. ‘You better spoil Rosie for me after I’m gone. I am the grandma after all, aren’t I?’

‘No promises, Mom!’

‘And as creepy as it might sound,’ Eleanor took Lauren and Rosie’s hands in hers, ‘I’ll always be watching over you. I’m not leaving anywhere. Just look out of your window, and I’ll be the bright star shining.’

She kept repeating that she loved them both over and over again. A part of Lauren believed that she wanted it to be her last words. She rubbed her thumb over Eleanor’s knuckles, her heart filled with pain. But at the same time, happiness.

‘I love you, Granny. I’m going to miss you,’ Rosie’s face turned red as she a few tears made their way down her pink cheeks.

‘I’m going to miss you more, darling. You’re going to be okay. I’ll always be here with you. You know that, right?’

Eleanor wiped away Rosie’s tears as she nodded. ‘I do.’

‘That’s good.’ She said, but something changed. She hacked up a pained cough. Again and again. She tried sitting up in her seat and cupped Lauren’s cheeks.

‘Look at me. You are going to be alright, okay? Just…’ She wheezed, coughing again. ‘Just be happy and keep smiling. Take care of Rosie and yourself. I love you so much.’

Lauren began whimpering. ‘Mom! No, not yet!’

Although Eleanor was in pain, she looked in peace… She seemed happy with what she had with her. Her family. They were all she needed.

‘I love you, Rosie.’

The sight of her grandmother struggling scared Rosie. She began shrinking away, her hands trembling in fear. She smiled weakly. ‘It’s going to be okay.’

They got together for one final group hug, holding on for as long as possible. Lauren knelt down near the bed, stroking her mother’s hand as she sobbed harder.

‘Mom… it’s okay to let go. We’ll… we’ll be fine.’

‘You’ll… be okay, I know you will. You’ll be alright,’ her sentences were interrupted with coughs and wheezes.

Eleanor’s grip on Lauren’s hand loosened as she got weaker and weaker. ‘You’ll be alright…’ she repeated.

‘I love you both so, so much.’

‘More than you’ll…’ she got quieter towards the end, her breathing becoming weaker.

‘Ever…’

‘…know.’

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