‘Dad’, I say as I place my hand on his arm. ‘Let me take this from you.’
His brown eyes are slightly damp and I feel a pained agony cling to my soul as he glances to the ground like a child. When had he become so feeble? His shoulders are slouched, shirt lined with creases and my heart nearly snaps inside as his trembling hands touches mine. He places the soup in my hands; and like a protective bird I enclose my hands around his. His hands are rough and dry as a desert but warm. Tears begin to form in my eyes, but I don’t cry. If he is weak then I have to be strong.
Then, his voice like a weak child’s speaks out to me. ‘I have no more fight left, Becca. I’m lost. I’ll be lost without your mum.’ I watch as his tears drop into the soup. Where is his faith? Mum has been in a coma for four weeks. One day after work she got into a car accident because a lorry crashed into her. It sent her flying through the wind-screens. I remember when I heard the news. I have just gotten back from a class as university when I received the call from dad. His voice was like a broken melody. As he spoke, my chest tightened. My mind was a black hole of torment. The room begun to spin and my limbs lost strength. I sunk to the carpet in my bedroom, sick to the stomach, a cutting my pain in my head, arms, legs, eyes, and soul. My mum was the sweetest the woman. She couldn’t die. What would I do without her? Why her? Where was God to protect her, the faithful lord that we had all looked to? I curled my body into a ball. The walls were crashing around me. I was lost into the darkness of my sorrow and my soul was like a winter raging storm. My sobs turned into crying then turned into hysteria. I wanted to die here in the silence of my own thunderous roar.
‘If she dies, Becca, how I’m I going to live?’ he says, resting his head on my shoulder. He sighs with vulnerability, so broken like a fragile baby bird that I want to take his pain away. But, I know that I can’t, and although my legs are weak I stand firmly. Slowly, we enter the kitchen and dad weeps. I pour the soup into the drain, wishing that he had drank some because he had had to throw away some of his trousers.
We are sat at the kitchen table. I reach out my hand and tightly hold onto his, hoping that somehow I could show that I would be strong for him. Dad gets a handkerchief out of his pocket and wipes his tears, and then looks up at me.
‘Dear, you must think I’m weak. But, I’m just so lost. Where is God in all of this? Who do I look to?’
‘Dad, you are the strongest person I know’, I say and then smile weakly. ‘God is right beside us. I know he is’.
‘Well, I can’t feel him. I can’t.’
‘We’ve prayed and I know he has heard us. Whatever happens he loves us. He loves mum.’ I can’t explain the ways of God, and in this moment of grief all I can do is look to him. I have questioned him, which I think is only natural. But, I know that in the deepest trials, when our body is laden with pain and when everything collapses around us he is near.
‘Dad, I need you to be strong too.’
‘I know Becca, I know. Forgive me.’
‘Everything will be okay.’ I look at the watch on my arm. ‘So, do you want to visit her now? Will you be alright?’
‘Of course. I was a mess last time, but I’ll be just fine today.’
Dad and I drive the car over to the hospital. As he sits in the passenger seat beside me, he looks intently ahead with lips tightly closed together. I can only glance at him from time to time, but when I do I see that he’s trying to hold back tears.
As we turn a corner I say, ‘Dad, we can always go back home if you’re not ready to see mum again.’ He had visited mum every day for the past three weeks.
‘I’m fine Becca. It’s Friday and your mum and I always read together.’
‘Yes, I know.’ The memory of mum, of what she used to be, hurts me. I want to remember her and all the sweets things she has done for us. As an only child mum was always there for me. Even in university she would visit. Just having her around was nice and comforting. But, these memories are too painful and if I start crying again I won’t stop. I haven’t cried since dad told me the news.
We are parked outside the hospital. I’ve visited mum four times this week, read the newspaper to her, played her favourite music and even slept at the hospital. Not once did I weep or shake with sorrow. But, as I sit in the driver’s seat I remember that today is my twenty-first birthday. My hands begin to shake and dad asks if I’m okay, but I can’t respond. Instead, I place my head on the stirring wheel and my entire body trembles. Once one tears flow out of my eyes the rest gushes out. I can’t hold it together anymore or pretend that I every time I think about mum I don’t feel a lump in my throat and a heaviness in my heart. I’m twenty-one and she won’t be here to wish me a happy birthday. The truth is she may not wake up. Her voice will be a memory. Her presence, her smile, and her generous heart may never exist in the land of the living. I weep even harder and I scream at one point of out frustration. My dad, the poor man, encloses his arms around my shoulders and I lean on him. Then, he says, ‘It’s okay. It’s okay. Just cry.’