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The Little Things (Full Version)
The bright sun burned my skin as I lay in the warm, fresh grass. I looked up at the clouds and thought about the terrible yet, interesting world I lived in. How its imperfections and madness always shocked me in its many ways. It was disgusting and ungrateful to me, the angry banker greedy for money or the washed up garbage that polluted the lakes everywhere. Only one thing in the world that I could find to be perfect and beautiful was my mother. She was young, intelligent, wise, and yet stubborn in many ways. I envied to be just like her one day when I grew older. She always thought of the brighter things in life.
She would set me down on her lap in the late afternoons and tell of the beauties of the world and how the little things were more than enough to make the world better than it really was.
“What are the little things, mama?” I would ask.
“The little things are what you carry with you through life and what keeps you going forward. The warm grass on your feet in the early morning is my little thing that tells me the world will always be beautiful even when some of the people are not.” I would look up at her with my eyes squinted ever so slightly trying to understand what her words meant. I judged the world for its indifference, unlike Mama.
When I grew to be a young woman, my opinions grew stronger and my life grew darker. I sat under the old oak early one morning and picked the flowers under it. Every petal was different from the next. It fascinated me how I could not find one shade of color the same as the next. As I sat and relaxed against the tree I drifted, far off and let my dreams wonder. I awoke hours later realizing it was almost dark and Mama would be worried soon so, I stretched my sleep away and walked quickly home. When I arrived at the house, it was dark with not one light in sight except the little bedroom light glowing so softly. I walked through the kitchen into the bedroom and gently crept through the door. I saw what I refused to believe to be true and stood in shock for that moment. I watch as Mama lay still on the floor breathings in such small breaths I could barely tell she was breathing at all. My eyes began to fill with tears as hot as the sun. I broke out of my shock, ran to my mother, and fell to the floor as the tears poured down my face unwillingly. In a second of relief, I realized she was still alive.
“Mama, wake up, mama! Please say something!” My heart broke as I ran to the phone and dialed the number for help. No, this can’t be real. This can’t happen, I thought to myself. Minutes later, when the doctors arrived, I stood aside in the corner of Mama’s room. I examined everything that happened but could not see any kind of reality in it. It seemed more to me like a movie that I could not stop or rewind.
They took Mama quickly to the hospital while the police officer followed behind with me in the back. It seemed like hours before they finished examining her. Finally, after waiting so impatiently, a doctor approached me with ease.
“Your mother, I’m afraid, has a tumor that has caused to much damage for us to reverse. She is getting weaker by the days. Nothing can be done to prevent her upcoming death. I am terribly sorry.” He had no expression in his face, not even sympathy.
“How long till then?”
Six months seemed like such a short time. Never had I felt so helpless and alone. I could not do this on my own, this I knew. I took care of mama as much as I could and it never seemed to make it better for her. The short days, I realized, were all I had left of my dear mother. Her dear face and sweet sympathy for life would soon be gone, buried along with her beauty. I cried for several days hoping to one day to wake up from the nightmare that had taken the life I knew so well. It hurt me to know things would never change and I would soon be alone, an only child with no mother to care for or comfort her.
My mama awoke one morning screaming in terrible pain. I did as much as I could and still brought no comfort for her. I felt hopeless and dreadful in more ways than I could count. I stood at her side waiting for something to make it better. Something I could not think of, something I could not even find. Her screams cut my ears like glass and it never did stop, even at night in my dreams.
The day’s drug on one after the other and mama got worse with time. She always tried to tell me she was okay and not to worry, but I knew what she really felt inside, scared. I spent my days at the old oak tree trying to write but I had so much to write it would never fit all the paper in the world. I laid my head back against the tree and sighed. Never will I trust the world and its people again. It has done so much to my poor mother and she has done so much good for it. How could it be so implausible?
In the kitchen, I saw my mama cooking and singing quietly.
“No, mama, I will cook while you rest. You are to sick to work. Get to bed.”
She stopped smiling and had a serious look. “No, I will not. It is such a beautiful morning and I would not miss it for anything. I enjoy my work and it does not hurt me. Why would I lay in a bed a stare at the blank wall when I could cook and feed my lovely daughter?” She grinned brightly and continued to string the beans in front of her.
“You need the rest, mama. It will make you weak if you work to hard.”
She laid the beans she held down onto the table. “If I get sick, so be it. It is nothing I can control or put off, so I will enjoy it as it goes.”
She turned and by this, I knew there would be no more talking. I just stood there confused on why she would feel this way. Wanting to die faster than expected? Why did she not just lay in bed and rest? I did not think about what her actions would do to her. My mind shut off everything knowing that soon she would be gone.
It was a wonderful morning. The leaves were just beginning to turn bright red and orange. I could smell so vividly the coming of autumn, it never felt so good. However, as all good things, it must end. October 14th, was the day my beautiful mother lay on her bed lifeless and dead. The image invades like an unwanted animal every night as I sleep. I never would forgive myself of my burdens I laid upon her. I felt like an empty shell left to die in a world so cold, a world with no love but only death.
Her funeral was only days away. I did not want to plan anything; I did not even want to go. The selfishness consumed me day after day as I waited for my life to end. I slowly dragged myself to my bedroom and closed the door. As I climb in my bed tears began to fill my eyes, so hot and smooth. I laid my head back and tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep. After thirty minutes of waiting, I rose up, put my hands through my hair, and just thought. I looked around the room and noticed the blank walls. I understood why mama did not want to stay with them. They were so dull and lifeless. I just stared around the room and tried to see what she seen when she was here. It did not satisfy me to picture her thoughts and sights. I fell hard onto the bed and sighed. A cold chill of air went gently down my spine and I shook. I knew something was there, I just did not know what.
I got out of the bed, rushed my way into the living room, and huddled on to the couch trying to find comfort. My eyes wondered and stopped on a piece of folded paper under the table that was centered in the middle of the room. I pick it up and unfolded it, it read:
I know you did not think I was happy when I was sick, but I really was. Don’t spend your time thinking of me and what you could have done to help me. Enjoy what you have, my darling, and never forget I am with you. If times feel tough, just remember to hold the little things close to your heart and never let go, all the good memories we had together throughout the years, and all the bad. Just live your life as if I was there and always look up and know I am watching you every step of the way.
I held the paper in my hands and started to cry. All the pain I had inside came out in that moment where I finally understood what she really saw.
“I’ll never give up, I promise”, I whispered as I held my knees. “I’ll never let you down.”
I closed my eyes and then began to smile. I thought of the way mama’s hair look on a bad day and her smile, o her beautiful smile. I could not help but realize those little things. One day soon, I would realize that these were my life.
At the funeral, everyone cried in sorrow for mama and me. They all came and went but none of them really knew her as I did, they just knew parts. When everyone had left and mama and me was alone I slowly loomed toward the coffin that held her. No strength could prepare me for this moment, but I did my best, for mama. I went onward and slowly reach down and touch mama’s hair, wiping it from her face. Even in death, she was as beautiful as ever and I could still see her smile.
I reach in my pocket and found two pieces of paper. One, the note mama had left me in hope that I would understand her choices, two, the note that would conceal us in life, and death, forever.
I lay the two papers on mama and just watch her for a while. After a long wait, I walk to the end of the road, and looked back with only three words, “sleep well, mama.”
On a bed of roses will I sleep
Under a burning sun and shady trees
Unbound and unknowing of fateful love
A lonely sight in the sky above
One last thought I bare to leave
On a number of loved ones I’ve deceived
So in letters write upon my grave,
“An untouched flower here will lay”
For on a bed of roses I will sleep