I hide behind my hair to stay away from the view. I can hear my mother’s frail breathing as she gulps down the air, only for her to find that she needs even more. I dare not look, as I’m afraid that a single glance will be the last. I’m afraid to even listen, but my head is forcing me to cling onto something, even if it pains me.
“S… Sarah?” I hear her forever tiring voice call out my name. I’m frozen in my seat, so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever stand again. She calls for me another time. I shudder, but refuse to look up. I know what is it come, but I don’t think I have the strength to say goodbye.
“Sarah, sweetheart, please…” My father’s comforting voice appeared just beside me, along with a reassuring hand. I can hear the hurt in his voice; can almost hear the tears forming. I shook my head defiantly.
“Come on, now, remember what we talked about?” He stroked the back of my head. I could feel myself falling towards him, desperate for the safety of his embrace… but nothing would be enough to make all of this fade away.
This morning, my father knelt down beside me, his hands on my shoulders, smiling so delicately it told me something was wrong. He told me about “The Final Angel”, as he had always done since I could remember, and how she was there to take care of us all once we had reached the end of this life.
I remember asking all sorts of questions all those years ago: “Why do we have to go?” “Is she an evil Angel?” “Is she coming for me?!” My father would always laugh and hug me, saying “No, sweetheart, she’s not evil; she’s just there to show us the way. She’s like a light in the dark, a lone flower in the dessert. She’s there to make sure we are safe”.
Safe… I think to myself over, and over, and over. How can she make sure we’re safe if she’s taking us away from those we love, allowing them to be alone forever.
“Sarah…” The pained voice of my mother came once more. Come on now, Sarah… be brave… you’ll regret it if you don’t go over…
I force my hands away from my knees, and part my black hair, pushing both sides behind my ears.
“Thank you.” I heard my father whisper in my ear as he gently kissed my cheek. I stood up, my legs trembling. I was surprised that my feet held my body up as I stepped forward. The steps were shaky, but they were brave.
“There’s my sweet girl.” My mother turned her head to the left to see me as she smiled weakly. She was so beautiful, even now. I tried to speak, but my voice croaked. “Shh, shh, don’t worry, I’m always here.” She was just able to lift her arms up to signal a hug. For a moment, I hesitated, finding myself stuck once more, but a word came to me yet again. Brave.
As quickly as my feet would move, I leapt forward into the arms of my mother, burying my head between her shoulder and neck. The tears finally emerged, and my, were they more defiant than I.
I could hear my mother shushing me, trying to calm me as he hugged me as tightly as she could, which wasn’t very tight at all. She was weak. She needed help… She needs taken care of…
My mother broke from the hug rather suddenly, as though she were sick of my presence.
“Don’t go…” I managed to say as I rubbed my already red eyes.
“I’m afraid I must.” She smiled at me, this time strongly as though nothing had even been wrong. My father held me from behind, wiping away the tears I had missed. “I’m proud of you.” He sniffed as his tears began to fall.
“Sarah,” My mother giggled, which took me by surprise. “Would you believe it if I told you she was here?” My mother grinned, pointing to nothing.
“Who’s here?” I asked, looking into the empty space.
“The Final Angel!” She beamed. “She’s come to take care of me.”
It was then that everything made sense. My mother wasn’t sad, she was happy. She knew that this wasn’t the end, so, perhaps she’ll be ok. After all, she’s not alone.