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Never Go to Bed Angry
Ruthie looked up from her book for perhaps the tenth time that morning as the doors to the surgical rooms opened, hoping that she would see Dr. Henderson. No such luck. Slowly she sat back in the hard, plastic blue chair in the waiting room in St. Terry’s Hospital, trying to find a somewhat suitable position.
“At this rate, I’m going to need thousands of dollars of chiropractic work to get all these kinks out,” she thought, letting out a low moan.
The bright, florescent ceiling lights made everything look artificial and gave everyone’s skin a sickly glow. The linoleum floor tiles were a mustard yellow, perfect for hiding the numerous body fluids and blood stains that fell upon them on a daily basis. Closing her eyes, she went back over the events of the past few hours.
At 2 a.m., Ruthie was startled from a deep sleep by the piercing ring of the phone in her ear.
Ring, ring...ring, ring...
“Hello?” She said tentatively into the earpiece, her voice hoarse with sleep. She glanced at the clock. The bright, neon red numbers read 2:16 a.m.
“Yes? Who is this?” The voice on the other end of the line sounded familiar, but she could not for the life of her think of who would be calling in the middle of the night.
“It’s George, your brother.”
“George? What’s wrong? Is everything OK?”
“Well, not exactly. Mom was found unconscious by a neighbor a few hours ago. She is in critical condition in the intensive care unit at St. Terry’s hospital. Ruthie...it doesn’t look good.”
Her heart was pounding so loudly, she swore George could hear it.
“Ruthie? Are you there?” asked George.
“Yes,” she murmured.
“Even if she wakes up, she could have significant brain damage. They resuscitated her but no one knows how long her heart was stopped. I know you two haven’t spoken in years, but I thought you would want to know.”
“I’ll catch the next flight out.” Ruthie responded hanging up the phone.
Within the hour, Ruthie was on a flight to Lincoln, Nebraska. By the time she arrived at St. Terry’s, her mother was in surgery. George filled her in, explaining that an aneurism had caused the unconsciousness. For 3 hours now, Ruthie and George sat in the waiting room, awaiting the news of their mother’s condition. Exhausted and in desperate need of sleep, Ruthie pulled herself out of the chair and walked over to the coffee machine. The coffee tasted old and scorched, with little clumps of un-dissolved coffee grinds swimming through the dark liquid. It would have to do.
“Pretty gross, huh?”
Turning around, Ruthie faced a young girl. She had shoulder length, auburn brown hair, and vivid green eyes, with flecks of gold mixed in. She looked to be about 13 or 14 years old.
“I’m Ruthie.” she said with a sheepish grin, extending her hand.
Lucy smiled, her metallic silver braces gleaming in the light.
“My mom is having my baby sister. I would be in there with her, but all that screaming makes my queasy. Why are you here?” Lucy asked with a laugh.
“My mother is dying.” Ruthie offered quietly.
“Oh.” said Lucy, smile fading, “I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do?”
At that very moment, Ruthie broke down. The tears poured down her red face. Leftover mascara and eyeliner dripped down her cheeks, turning the tears blue and black. With a shuddering sob, she said, “I haven’t spoken to my mother in six years. And now she’s dying and I can’t even say I’m sorry, or take back all of the hurtful things I said. I don’t even remember what the fight was about anymore. I left for college, and never looked back.”
“I’m so sorry,” consoled Lucy, patting Ruthie on the shoulder.
Lucy left to see her newly born baby sister, and Ruthie was left alone. Slowly, her eyelids drooped shut, and she slid into a sleepy haze. All of a sudden, she heard her mother’s voice in her ear, clear as day.
“It’s ok Ruthie. It’s over. Everything is in the past now. I have always loved you, and I always will.”
Awaking with a start, she looked around. Where was her mother? She had to be here somewhere. But she wasn’t.
Ruthie turned around to see Dr. Henderson
“My mother...is she OK?”
“I’m afraid not Ms. Wheeler. We did everything we could, but there was too much blood loss. Your mother has passed away. I’m so sorry.”
Ruthie collapsed into the chair. Burying her head in her hands, the tears came again. But then she thought about the strange dream she had had. Ruthie wasn’t one to believe in supernatural events, but that was the only explanation. Her mother’s spirit had come to tell her that all was forgiven and that she loved her. The tears came to a stop.
“I love you too, mom,” she thought, looking up toward the heavens.
Ruthie knew everything really would be OK.
Although Ruthie and George lost their mother, the feud was over for good. Ruthie felt a sense of peace. She had learned a valuable life lesson-she learned than life is too short to walk away angry from those you love. Rather, it is important to resolve your problems and be willing to forgive, and perhaps even more importantly, to forget. Ruthie had lost six years time with her mom, but she can at least spend the next fifty years knowing that her mother knew that she was there during her final hours and that she forgave her. We should never harbor bad feelings, but rather love unconditionally and fully.