How Many Tomorrows?

April 4, 2008
By Becca Teuscher, Mt. Shasta, CA

The tears streamed down her face as she repeated the doctor’s words over and over again in her head. She couldn’t believe it; she knew that eventually Fiona would die, but she never imagined it actually coming to pass and now she had maybe two weeks. Brook had been able to hold back the tears while the doctor was speaking, but the moment he left the room she crumpled, falling to the ground and finally letting the tears pour from her eyes.

Losing Fiona was unbearable and Brook couldn’t help but remember all of the times they’d shared. Fiona had taught her so much in every aspect of her life. Fiona gave her courage, self-esteem, compassion, and most importantly, undying friendship.

As Brook sat there crying, she started to remember all of the times she and Fiona had shared. She looked back on the first day they’d met. Brook had just moved into town and had not yet found any friends, so she had spent most of her time sitting at home. One afternoon, her mom had been looking through the newspaper and noticed that there was a youth group meeting the following evening in town. She begged Brook to go and try to meet some people before school started, and Brook finally gave in.

At youth group, there were a lot of people and Brook wasn’t sure, but she tried to play in all of the games and to listen to the youth pastor’s sermon. In her old town, she’d had a lot of friends and the two that were the closest had pulled out and left running out of her life. She had thought they were so wonderful, she knew it was going to be hard to put that trust into someone again. As she hung around that evening, she met Fiona. After watching her for a while before actually meeting her, Brook thought she was quite high strung and maybe a little crazy and outgoing, but Fiona came up to her and they started to chat.
For the first week they hung out very little, but on the second week Fiona invited her to a birthday party. The party started out great, but after some time it got a little extreme when people started yelling and stuff started breaking. It was like a train, hearing it come, thinking it will take its sweet time, but the next thing you know it’s flying through, loud and unstoppable. Fiona noticed the fear in her eyes and without even asking Brook’s opinion, took her by the hand and they left. Fiona apologized, not realizing it was going to get out of hand being as they were only 13 and the birthday girl was the same. Brook was amazed by Fiona’s sensitivity and from that day on she knew they were going to always be friends.
Every so often, Brook and Fiona would get upset with each other, but it never lasted very long. They always forgave each other and got back on track. It was like the saying, “If you fall off, you always gotta get right back on.”
Brook reminisced about the times they had given presentations in class and how Fiona had always brought them through. Brook always tired so hard to do well, but she would start to slouch or she wouldn’t remember what she was supposed to say. She was insecure about how she looked and knew people were always judging her, but for some reason, Fiona remained unbothered by the pressures people put on her to be perfect. Fiona always jumped right in and got them a good grade, no matter how poorly Brook thought they did.
Fiona always knew what Brook was up for whether she was in a good mood and could do anything or if she was perturbed or just angry and needed someone to just listen and laugh with. Fiona was always right on cue and never seemed to miss a step.
There was a lake about a half mile from Brook’s new house and during the summer they went swimming. The lake was muddy and filled with weeds, but they had scouted out the perfect swimming spot where there were almost no weeds and they could get in pretty easily. Brook had taught Fiona how to swim their first summer. She tried to remember how she was taught when she was little so she could make it as easy for Fiona as possible. By the third time they were out in the water, Fiona had it almost down pat. Many times she would give up and simply walk on the floor of the lake until the water was up to her neck. When they were swimming, they felt free; every time it seemed to be a new experience.
Fiona and Brook would go on long walks into the hills behind Brook’s house. They would stop at the top and gaze across Weed and out towards Yreka. Mt. Shasta would stand out so beautifully against the blue sky. The view was breath-taking and well worth the walk up to it. Once when they were going up the hills there was still snow on the ground; Brook and Fiona headed into the snow even though they weren’t properly clothed for it. They got quite a ways in and found the snow was very deep, but they kept going. If they turned back, they’d still have to crawl through the snow. They came out on the other end cold and wet, but Brook never forgot that cold and yet wonderful day.
Brook recalled the springs when they went on picnics in the field by the lake. They’d sit on the logs and stumps that lay dead throughout the field and eat their sandwiches and chips. They’d discuss the beautiful scenery and the way the grass moved in the breeze, like it was dancing to the wind’s song. Every so often, the girls would lay back and watch the clouds moving above them. It was so peaceful and free.
A feeling of even deeper sadness came over Brook as she remembered the senior pictures she had taken last fall; her favorite ones had Fiona in them. They had laughed as their photographer shot picture after picture, each one with a different pose. They had taken them in Brook’s backyard on the grass with the leaves everywhere. Brook had been so happy to be able to take the pictures with Fiona and have those memories.
A month after those pictures was when they found out that Fiona was sick. Losing Fiona was a horrible thought, but they weren’t sure then. They were able to give her medications that weren’t guaranteed to help and if they did help, no one knew how long they’d stay. The medications stopped working after two months and could no longer be of help to Fiona. But as Brook looked back, those two months had been some of the best. They had hung out more and enjoyed each other’s presence more than ever. They were all so thankful that Fiona was able to hang on for those two short months.
As the tears fell unyieldingly from Brooks face, her phone rang, bringing her back from her memories to reality. She couldn’t believe it. Jack was calling her; he was her boyfriend who seemed to have a sixth sense and always knew to call exactly when she needed him. He had just been calling to tell her that he would call her later, but the moment he heard the pain and sadness in her voice, he was ready to listen, no matter how long it took. As she cried, explaining the situation, he tried to comfort her in any way possible. It was hard for him as he was in college across the country from her, but he never gave up. After about an hour of talking to him, she felt much better, although it didn’t last for long. It was nice to hear his deep, consoling voice for a short time.
Fiona’s birthday was coming up on March 30th and she was expected to die around that day. She would be turning eighteen, making her death even more unbearable. Easter was just around the corner, along with spring break. They always hung out more on their breaks from school and Brook wasn’t sure what she’d do without Fiona to keep her company, especially this break.
Brook’s heart throbbed and seemed to break. She stayed at the hospital until late that night when her mom came. Her mom told her that the hospital would be there tomorrow and she could come back, but Brook replied with, “I don’t know how many tomorrows I’ll have.” After talking to her mom some more, she agreed to go home; she went to Fiona, saying goodbye for the night. Fiona’s skin was pale and her usually made-up face was bleak and scared. Brook could see the fear and pain in Fiona’s eyes. Brook wished her a goodnight and told her she loved her. Brook walked out of the hospital into the dark, clinging to her mom.
The next weeks were hard; each day she felt like she was drowning as she held the tears in, hiding them from her friends at school, but the moment she reached her car, they came rushing out of her eyes, flooding her face. After school, she’d visit the hospital for hours, trying to spend every spare second with Fiona. She couldn’t imagine life without her; it was such a horrible and scary thought.
After a few weeks Fiona got really bad and died. Brook was heart broken; she’d lost her best friend. She was constantly reminded of Fiona every time she drove past the meadow and the lake, she was reminded when she didn’t prepare thoroughly for a presentation, she was reminded every time she looked at her senior portraits that were hung around the house, but most of all she was reminded when she needed someone to talk to or to hang out with and Fiona wasn’t there. None of Brook’s friends completed her like Fiona had, and Fiona would always hold a very special place in Brook’s heart. Eventually the memories turned into happiness, and made Brook smile instead of cry, but Fiona had touched her life so specially and no matter what she always would miss Fiona. Brook was so thankful at how blessed she was to have had Fiona in her life; they’d learned so much together and Fiona’s memory would always go on.

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