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There's Always Someone Worse Off

Expectantly waiting for the snow to stop falling and his radio to stop blasting, I sat in my bedroom, staring out the window. Would things ever look up for us? We had been spiraling lower and lower as the years passed, and I feared he would soon leave me like he had left her.

He told me he loved me; in fact, Jeff told me this every day without pause. It was just my reaction that got him going. It was the fact that I didn’t want that much. I had always been more simple, less caring, and freer than those who encircled my life. Those who I loved became so sick of me that they no longer wanted to see me.

My own two children were gone. They had grown up and left without saying goodbye to their old man, and only a trifle of the goodbye I had always hoped for. They didn’t cry or look sad, they simply told me where they were going and never came back.

And they’d never called again.

If anything could have made me more upset with myself that was it.

Jeff was coming out of his studio now. Studying his face, you could only see a little bit of the son of a gun he used to be. His neck had widened, his eyes had sunken, and (what I thought was the worst), he was going bald in his late age. Forty seven wasn’t really as old as it seemed, was it? I looked my own facial features over in the mirror across from me and saw nothing other than what I expected. Did he see in me what I saw in myself? Or was I the only one who seemed to notice things were changing?

Jeff walked across the bedroom without stopping to talk to me. He did this a lot lately. He had been married once before he came along to me. “The Glory Days,” he had once called in during one of our many notorious fights. That had struck home. Since then, we barely talked. It made me wonder why we even stayed in the same house. He could leave anytime he wanted and he knew I wouldn’t run after him.

It was more than a mid-life crisis that I was going through, it was flat out pain. My children had left, my husband was as good as a block of wood, and my parents had disowned me for marrying him. It only seemed as though I had made mistakes in my one track life. Always going backward, and never forward as I wanted to go.

I wanted to confront him. I wanted to ask him what he planned to do. But I knew we were past the point of confiding in one another. I knew he would never tell me what he planned to do with his life once I was gone. A wave of fury at only myself rushed through me.

Then the doorbell rang.

Remembering that moment, I think I was more afraid that one of Jeff’s friends was here to get him than anything else. Not once did the thought cross my mind that he might have nothing to do with it. Or that it could have been something much more important than that.

Jeff didn’t go to get it like I thought he would, so I stood up to go for it myself. Opening the door and seeing what I did, I think fate put me there that day. I believe that only God could have come up with a remedy to my hurt so simple that it could have made me cry for hours.

My twin girls were standing on my front porch.

It was what I noticed next that surprised me. They both looked like their worlds were crashing down. Then, the thought hit me that I didn’t even know what their worlds were like! I had not seen them in over three years and I had not received a phone call. Just the occasional post card from one of their many home spots. They had stayed together, though, just like a family should.
I realized I had to say something, but the words could not come to my mouth. I stuttered, but I would not speak the words I wanted to, the questions that I so wanted to ask. Why had they left me without a proper farewell? Where had they been? Were they married; engaged? Who were they now?
Instead of trying to say everything I knew I could not, I gestured toward the living room to tell them to come in. My eyes must have looked very surprised because they were staring right in them. As my children walked into their home once again, something clicked in my head. Call it a light bulb or mother senses, I don’t know, but I knew something was terribly wrong.
They didn’t go to the couches like I had expected. Lillian and Georgia looked at each other for one split second, and then threw their arms around me like a pet dog. I was too shocked to speak or to move. What were they doing here?
“I…oh, girls!” I noticed they had begun crying again. What was so awful that they had to be here and they couldn’t call? The suspense was awful! But I was so happy just to have them with me again that I didn’t argue. Then, Georgia opened her mouth to speak.
“M-m-mom?” Her voice sounded so different than the melodic voice I had once known. I was tired, and weak.
“Oh, girls, what’s wrong?” I couldn’t keep the edge of hysteria out of my voice long enough to calm them down. They started up crying again. This time, Lillian spoke.
“Mom…we…Georgia…” Lillian looked unsure how to deliver the news. If she was me she would have known to just spit it out. She took a long, deep breath and then, “Georgia, why don’t you go say hi to dad while I talk to mom?”
Georgia couldn’t have looked happier to get out of there. I was even more confused than I had been before!
“Lillian Bush, what is going on?” I was sick of the games. As happy as I was that they had come here, I needed to know…I had to know…
“Mom…Georgia has cancer.” Lillian began to cry again, and I didn’t know if I had misheard her, or if she had meant to sound so abrupt.
The bricks hit. Hard.
Cancer. Cancer. Cancer.
The word echoed through my head like church bells on Christmas. My head pounded, my hands began to sweat, and I felt faint…
And then, everything went black.
I woke up in my bedroom, tucked inside the covers. Jeff was snoring next to me and the girls were softly breathing in their bedrooms. I walked out of bed and opened the room next door, my girls’ room.
Two nine year old girls sat curled up in their beds.
I looked in the mirror across the hallway and saw my thirty two year old self, young as I had felt in a long time. Running back into my bedroom and flicking on the light, I saw Jeff’s hair was still intact.
It had only been a dream. Just a dream of my worst fears and worries. I have been a mother for only a few years now, and I’m still learning. But with all of the troubles that I had now, I realized things could have been worse. My spiraling depression disappeared with the dream, and my heart began to beat again.
I believe that dream was sent from God to show me that my life could be so much worse off. Things like Cancer, drugs, and your children leaving you…these are things that I had never experienced and I hoped not to.
My name is Jessica Marie Ann Bush, and I hope you understand, like I do now, that things are always worse off somewhere else.





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