The Last Goodbye

By Jose De Jesus Lopez, a Finalist of NewsPortalSite’s Writing Contest

I
didn’t see it coming, surely I must have known, at the very least I
should have seen the signs. It began in the autumn of my life, right
when we are suppose to have superior intelligence and foresight. A year
ago we were told that my mother-in-law had been found unconscious in her
small bedroom and my wife quickly packed, kissed our children goodbye
and we went to bring her home. We found her at the hospital, full of
life and quick wit. Leaving the hospital, on the front steps, she
collapsed. The attendant was very courteous and she was taken to the
emergency room. It was a minor aneurysm, but she should be alright in a
few days. I had to return to work so my wife would stay with her,
afterwards I left, secure in the knowledge that in a few days everything
would be okay.

The
following weekend my wife assured me that they were ready to come home.
We arrived that evening and our children crowded around their
grandmother to make her feel loved and not alone. My mother-in-law was
improving and getting around by herself when she awoke early one morning
with an incessant cough. Instantly my wife was at her side and decided
that we should get her to the hospital as quickly as possible. Her lungs
were full of liquid and she would go into intensive care with my wife
in attendance. The following afternoon I paid her a visit and she looked
tired.

For
one reason or another I got along famously with my mother-in-law. I was
the only one who could joke with her and get a good laugh, sometimes
she would laugh so hard that tears would come to her eyes. I would ask,
“Who’s your handsomest son-in-law?” and she would retort, “You are.” And
she cracked a smile. Of course I should mention that I am her only
son-in-law so it’s not as if she had many options in the matter. My wife
slept fitfully in the waiting room while I watched over her. At ten
o’clock she finally stirred and I left promising to return after work.
In the next few days my mother-in-law started to lose consciousness and
her ability to recognize us. Every day my wife’s face was increasingly
haggard so I insisted that she take a night off to attend to her needs
and get a good night’s rest. Unfortunately my mother-in-law passed away
early the next morning and for one reason or another no one heard the
phone.

At
the hospital we were informed that she was down at the morgue. As
formal identification of the remains was required, we were escorted to
her side where I identified the body and my wife became almost
hysterical. She was blaming herself for her mother’s death. She reasoned
that had she been with her, she would not have passed. At the reunion
it was decided that she would be incinerated and that we would purchase a
niche at the pantheon. My wife decorated the niche with autumn leaf
wallpaper and added several images and figures of Jesus Christ and Mary
Mother of God.

My
wife, always being a God fearing woman, kept images and figures of
Jesus Christ and her favorite saints around our house but now she was
lighting candles and incense. Next, she started having aches and pains
but they came and went so I put them down to aging from personal
experience. A month later she would not get up and asked me to go buy
breakfast which I did feeling guilty for not having thought of it first.
Time went by with her aches getting worse, until the queen bee of our
household was unable get out of bed. I scheduled another appointment
with our family doctor because something had to be done.

Our
doctor did a complete battery of tests and told us that there was
nothing wrong with her. He recommended us to psychiatrist friend of his.
Dr. Johns, Phd. Md. Applied Psychiatry, it said on the door so I
reasoned that he must be good. That first day both of us went in and
frankly I thought that he belonged at the loony farm but my wife liked
him and wanted to return. Afterwards only my wife entered to see him and
after several visits he finally asked to speak to me alone. “Mr.
Lopez”, he began, “after having subjected Mrs. Lopez to several
sessions, I am convinced that she believes that her mother is calling
her from the grave. What I cannot believe is that she actually wants to
go, furthermore she is doing so bit by bit.”

The
shock from hearing that she was going was reverberating through my
entire being leaving me spent and shaken. How could she contemplate
leaving our entire family after a lifetime of interaction and what I
thought was married bliss. Hence I could not get her to anger for she
was always serene as if her goal was in sight and there was naught
anyone could do about it. She weakened, until the day came when I had to
spoon feed her and hold her head up so that she could drink water and
she spoke to me ever so softly. “Honey don’t be upset, it is time for me
to go. After all, we have raised our children and you worked hard to
ensure that all our needs were met. Please understand that my work is
done and that I need to go to my mother where I will watch over you.”

The
very next morning my life, my love was gone and though I sit here
wondering how this could have happened in just six short months, I am
starting to feel a warm glow flowing over me for she is already at work
and though I may sleep by myself, I know that I am not.

About the Author

Hello
my name is Jose De Jesus Lopez, I currently live in El Paso, Texas and
dedicate myself to my university studies. I usually write technical
manuals on everything from quality control to manufacturing processes.
This is my first attempt to write fiction. I wrote this piece in just a
few hours but it was 1527 words in length, so I began butchering it.
Now I can sympathize with anyone having to write a condensed version of
anything. Thank you for your invitation to write.

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