Seasons of Change

Contributor: Victoria Elizabeth Ann

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Palliative care.

She read it again. That couldn’t be right.

Patient is receiving palliative care. Terminal renal cancer. Metastasized. Lymphatic system.

The words jumped off of the page. Her father’s cancer was far worse than he had admitted. He had entered the final moments of his life and it was a surprise.

Last winter, he called her at the start of her final semester in college. He let her know of the diagnosis, assuring her that they had caught it early, it could be easily treated, and that she shouldn’t worry about him. Focus on her life. Enjoy her last few months before the “real world” roared into focus.

“Michelle,” he had chastised her, “This is the spring of your life. Everything is open and blossoming for you. Don’t waste it worrying about me. Enjoy the last bloom of your adolescence – it goes so fast.”

And so she did. Parties, classes, the beach. All spring, all summer; she lived for herself. Stopping home to visit only every few weeks. Calling her father to complain about her problems. Boys, teachers, shoes. A solstice of triviality that only immaturity can permit.

And now here they were. Ten months later. The feathery petals of the dogwood trees were falling outside the window of the sterile room. Was it October already? Had autumn, with its promise of cold, bleak days to come, filled her world with its ominous presence again? How did it sneak up on her so fast?

Her father, lying in the hospital bed, an IV filled with morphine going drip, drip, drip. Her, a diploma on the wall, real life going knock, knock, knock.

Why didn’t he tell her the truth? How much differently she would have lived! Winter, spring, summer, and fall – she would have given them all to him. Weekly visits, heartfelt conversations, a semester off from school. What’s one more season? Graduation could have waited.

A completely dissimilar existence she would have spent. The guilt of selfishness, the superficiality of youth – they weighed down on her as she watched the gentle rise and fall of his chest.

She pulled a CD player out of her book bag and placed it on his bedside table. The CD was old, scratched. She hoped it would play.

“Let me tell you a secret, about a father’s love. A secret that my daddy said was just between us. Now daddies don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, amen.”

Their song. His promise. Her life.

She watched the bluest summer sky in his eyes, his hand held tightly in hers, as the time between the beeps on the monitor grew longer. Longer. Stopped. His chest didn’t rise again.

The hibernation of her youth had started. In the spring, she would be reborn again, an adult. The real world would blossom in front of her, offering with it the sweet petals of opportunity, of challenge, of pain, of joy. But for now? Now, it was her winter.

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Victoria Elizabeth Ann is a lifetime student of the arts, literature, and life as a whole. She is currently studying Creative Writing at Full Sail University and aspires to publish a novel in the near future.
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