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Kissing the Sunset
My name is Beth. I’m 25 years old and I’ve been diagnosed with cancer.
I only have a few weeks left of this life. It’s strange. There are so many things I never noticed before. Like how pleasant the sun feels on my skin, and the coolness of the salty ocean water lapping at my ankles, and my three year old daughter’s laugh . . . She doesn’t know Mommy is dying.
No one but my husband knows, actually. And I've asked him not to breathe a word on the subject to anyone till after I'm gone. I want everyone’s last memories of me to be happy, good things. So I pretend to be happy, and I am, for the most part. I’m going to go out with few regrets and for that, I am grateful.
I've made many changes in the past two weeks. I've sent thank-you notes to anyone who gave me something, tangible or not. I've forgiven anyone who hurt me and then I asked those I've wronged, for forgiveness.
Every day, I take a walk through the park. It’s the middle of winter and the cold air is biting my skin, making me shiver. But I welcome it, because very soon I won’t feel the cold again. I think I'll miss it.
As I walk, I smile and bring to the fore of my mind fond memories. I remember a night out with the girls four years ago, June 29th, the day before my wedding. I laugh as I recall how we stuck our heads out the window and whistled at young men crossing the street. We were so obnoxious. I grin and shake my head.
And the day my daughter was born: September 15 at 4:31 am. I was exhausted, but happy. She was (and is) so beautiful! A tear slides, bitter and wet, down my cheek as I realize I won’t get to see her grow up.
Every night, I sit in a rocking chair on our back porch with my daughter resting on my lap. I lull her to sleep as I rock back and forth and wait for the first star to come out of hiding so I can make a wish. It’s always the same: I wish my family happiness and safety, that they’ll be okay after I’m gone, and my daughter will grow up strong and healthy and become everything I aspire her to be.
Sometimes I add in the wish that time would slow down. Just a bit.
A few weeks pass. Inconsequential to one with her whole life ahead of her, but so precious to me that I almost cry as each week ends.
I quit my job at the bank. This leaves me with more time on my hands with which to enjoy life. I need all the time I can get. Each day, just as I think it’s within my grasp, slips away from me. I frantically try to grab it and pull it back but, it’s gone.
Today is a lovely, warm spring day. I feel it is a good day for a family outing. I call my beloved husband and suggest that he call in sick at work.
We head down to the beach and I spend the day teaching Haley to build magnificent three-story sand castles - that promptly get washed away by the tide, of course.
The three of us run in the ocean and look for shells and sand dollars. I promise to help my daughter make them into necklaces as soon as we get home.
I’m starting to get out of breath and dizzy. My head is pounding. I ignore it. Just one more night, please . . . one more.
I curl up with my husband and daughter on the beach. I kiss my husband, tell him I love him. I kiss Haley, tell her I love her.
I laugh. Loudly. Raising my arms to the sky. They must think me mad. I blow kisses to the sky now touched with purple, blue, and orange. The sun is a dim amber and casts a warm glow over the sand and the soft blue waves.
I sigh contentedly and snuggle against my husband's chest.
And I fall asleep kissing the sunset for the last time.