My Dying Granny

Warrick propped up the soft pillows behind his granny's head as she lay like a gaunt specter of her previous spirited self in her deathbed. And deathbed it was indeed. At nineteen, Warrick knew death when it looked him in the face. He had become all too familiar with it when his mother had wasted away from cancer of the stomach two years ago. “My boy,” Kathy wheezed, fondly squeezing Warrick's hand with the last of her strength. “I'm so sorry you're burdened with me,” she added, tears flooding her faded eyes. Guilt overwhelmed her frail body, making her curl even further into herself. She was grateful that the agony that wracked every part of her broken body seemed suspended for now. “You're not a burden, Granny!” Warrick said , looking into the old woman's watery eyes. He was afraid to sit on the bed for fear of causing her any discomfort or hurt. “You were there for me when Mom passed away, and you've always looked after me even before that, so this is nothing. I can never repay you, so don't think or say you're burdensome to me. You're my blessing.” His words nearly undid the old woman's hold on her emotions. “I'm going to prepare supper now, all right? I managed to borrow a can of peas from Brian's mom. We've still got carrots and potatoes, so I'll make us a stew. I think there's enough rice left for one pot,” Warrick said, hating the fact that they were truly living on the edge of poverty. “Since this terminal illness struck down my granny,” Warrick said to Brian later that night, “I've had to become caregiver, cook, house cleaner and nurse. You know my dad abandoned us when I was only eight, and my mom slaved all her life as a domestic worker to provide for us,” Warrick added. Brian was his school mate; they were more like brothers than friends. “With your granny becoming ill, looking after her fell on you. You can't even look for a job 'cause your granny needs constant care,” Brian commiserated. “Is there any hope for her recovery?” “None. At our last hospital visit, her doctor told me to ‘make her as comfortable as possible' here at home. How can anyone who's dying so slowly ever be comfortable?” Warrick asked, covering his face with his hands, his shoulders hunched forward. “It's bad, bro. I don't know if I could've handled this, to be honest,” Brian said. He reached out to give Warrick's shoulder a long squeeze before going home. Kathy had heard the conversation between the two boys. By some quirk of the night or fay life, their hushed words had reached her clearly as she lay statue-still, imprisoned by her bed. She felt some remnant of fury trying to bubble up from her breast, anger that she had become this weak when before she had been energetic, industrious and a whirlwind of movement. Being this incapacitated often made her feel wrathful, but she swiftly smothered the emotion. It would only bring on the vicious barbs of pain. Her medication sat on her bedside table, within easy reach. Warrick is truly thoughtful, she thought, then she started to cry softly. He doesn't deserve to have his life placed on hold because of me, the bitter thought flitted through her mind, superseding the twisting, torturous pangs running amok throughout her body. As the last rays of the setting sun peeped through a chink in her bedroom curtains, Kathy slowly, painfully, sat up in bed. She reached for the morphine pills. With immense determination, she poured all the pills into her cupped hand. Closing her eyes, she prayed one final time. Forgive me, God. I know I'm damning my soul forever, but I would rather do that than have Warrick sacrifice another day of his young life. With a trembling hand, Kathy gripped the glass of water. She looked lovingly at her bedroom, at the knickknacks on her dresser, the antique wooden wardrobe her husband had made himself ages ago, her rocking chair next to the small, round reading table on which a novel waited for her to finish reading it for probably the twentieth time. She smiled wanly as she recalled the joy she had experienced upon first reading the book; that happiness had only increased with all the other subsequent readings. 'Gone with the Wind', by Margaret Mitchell. I have no regrets, except one. I'll be leaving Warrick sole alone in this cruel world. May he forgive me. Closing her eyes again, tears seeping from under her closed eyelids, Kathy brought the pills to her mouth. A warm, soft touch arrested her cupped hand. Kathy's eyes flew open in surprise, only to see Warrick standing in front of her. His cheeks were moist with his trailing tears. The forlorn look on his face broke her heart anew. “Granny, this isn't the way. God will ease our suffering. We only need to hold on to our faith and believe in His mercy,” Warrick whispered before carefully enfolding the tiny, fragile frame of the old woman in his strong, youthful arms. “My sweet, sweet angel,” Kathy breathed softly.

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