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A Moment to Cherish
“Happy Birthday, dearest,” Jonah whispered into my ear.
I looked up into his face. His eyes met mine and I smiled at him.
I whispered back, “Thank you.”
That’s all the words he needed. We were walking through the streets of New York, the city I had come to love as my second home. I had come here searching for work as a nurse. I found it along with wonderful people and something more, something that I was not expecting. When I was not looking I found the love of my life, Jonah.
I hooked my arm through His arm as we walked. I had no idea where we were going I was just following him, trusting that we would end up somewhere nice. We walked around a corner and I began to sense that I somehow knew this place but it was night time so I wasn’t completely sure. I felt that sometime a while back I had been here before. Jonah guided my up some steps to a house and rang the bell before opening the door.
“Where are we going? Whose house is this?” I asked him.
“Just trust me,” Was his reply.
All the lights were off so I couldn’t see well as I step into the drawing room. All of a sudden a switch was flipped. It illuminated the house and Jonah who was taking my coat spun me around. And just as I was turning I heard a chorus of voices yelling “Surprise!!!!” All my dear, wonderful friends were standing there.
I let out a little cry, “You all are so wonderful! I never guessed you would have done this for me!”
I looked about the room. They had decorated it in little white paper cut outs and ribbons and candles. It was lovely. All evening we spent the time laughing and talking and enjoying each other’s company. It was a lovely time.
I was standing up to get something to drink when Jonah came up to me.
“Your brother called. He said he must talk to you.”
I replied, “Oh, he and mother and father must have called to wish me a happy birthday.” I cheerfully went to the phone in the kitchen and picked up the receiver and held it to my ear. “Hello, Michael! It is good to hear your voice again! It’s been to long!” The line was silent for a moment. Confused I said, “Michael? Are you there?”
He finally replied to me, “Yes sister, happy birthday.”
“Thank you, Michael. But you don’t sound right. Is there something wrong? You don’t seem your usual cheerful self.”
He replied to me, “That’s because something dreadful has happened.” I looked up at Jonah who had walked into the room at that moment.
He studied my face for a minute and then whispered “What’s wrong?”
I whispered back “I do not know yet.” To Michael I said, “Tell me, what is the matter?”
He took a minute but eventually he replied, “Its mother, she’s awful sick. The doctors say there isn’t much hope. She could die anytime.”
My face went pale. Have you ever been running down the stairs in the dark and you get to the bottom and expect one more step and it’s not there and for an instant you feel as if you are going to fall? As if the last step had been taken from under you and you are just for an instant going to drop? That is how I felt in that moment when he told me. I felt as if the world had been pulled from under my feet. Jonah saw my face go pale and reached out and caught my arm. He grabbed a chair with his free hand and pulled it over and sat me down in it hard.
“Michael, we are coming right away.” And then I hung up the phone.
From that moment on, the trip was a blur. I remember it, but it felt like I had gone into robot mode. Jonah and I and a close friend went to my house and we packed all that I would need for the trip. Then leaving my friend with a tearful good bye, we hurried to Jonah’s house where he gathered what he needed. He then drove his new car around front of the house and helped me put our things in the back and then I clambered into the seat while he ran around front to start up the engine. We raced to the train station. On the way we happened to get a flat tire!
Jonah was muttering “Great, this is exactly what we needed right now.”
While he and some men he enlisted to help him fixed the tire I sat in the car waiting. I remember thinking Oh!!! We’re not going to make it, I’ll never get to say goodbye to my mother! As soon as they were done we raced to the train station. When we arrived we ran in the building right up to the ticket booth. We insisted we needed tickets on the soonest train that was leaving for Chicago.
The man in the booth said, “I’m sorry, the last train headed there today just left. The next one leaving is tomorrow at 6:00 AM.”
“We’ll take it, I guess, we have no other choice.” I muttered. Jonah paid and we went and found some empty benches in the station.
Jonah told me “You go ahead and try to get some sleep. I’ll stay up and watch the bags.” So I lay down with my head on his lap. I fell into a restless sleep. Jonah woke me at 5:30 the next morning.
He said to me “Come on their letting people on the train.”
We grabbed our things and ran for the train. When we got there the conductor asked for our tickets. Jonah reached into his pocket to retrieve them and they weren’t there.
“Oh no! I’ve left them on the bench!” he exclaimed.
He dashed away to get them leaving me to stand with the luggage watching helplessly as the train began to fill up. I began to think all hope was lost when he came running up and handed the tickets to the conductor.
We climbed onto the train just as the whistle blew. We had barely made it. We were safe and sound on our seats when I thought of the long journey ahead. I began to think, we’re not going to make it! I began thinking of all the times from my childhood when my mom was with me. I remembered one of my favorite times with her. We were out in the garden together one sunny spring day. The plants were just starting to peek up out of the soil. We were pulling weeds, turning the soil and watering all the while talking about nothing in general. A butterfly fluttered by and I remember pausing and looking at the butterfly.
My mother said, “Of all the beautiful butterflies, none my dear is as beautiful as you.”
I looked at her and smiled.
“You too are more beautiful than any butterfly I have seen,” I replied.
Remembering this made me miss my mother all the more. I began to weep and Jonah pulled me into a hug. I leaned my head against his shoulder and let it all slide out. All the pain and the sorrow and the fear melted away until I fell asleep there leaning against him.
When we finally reached Chicago, Michael met us. We drove to the farm in a horse and wagon. As soon as we got there I jumped down and ran into the house. I ran right to mother’s room and opened the door. She lay there on her bed. She looked so frail and weak. I walked across the room and stood by her bed. Her eye lids fluttered. I bent down and gave her a gentle hug and reached and held her hand. I talked to her softly.
“Mother, it’s me Cammie. I’m here now. I love you Mother. Please get better.”
She looked at me and gave my hand a little squeeze then she fell back to sleep. I sat down in a chair set beside the bed. I heard Michael and Jonah come in. I heard Jonah go up the stairs and lay down in the room he was staying in. I began to cry all over again. I was not ready to give my mother up. She is too dear to me. I began to pray. God, please let her get better. I am not ready for her to go. I love her too much. Please don’t take her from me. Please. Over and over again I prayed this until I was exhausted. I slowly climbed the stairs to my room. I began to change into my night gown. I crawled into bed and pulled the covers tight around me. I slowly fell asleep.
This morning Jonah gently shook me awake. He insisted that I go downstairs right away.
“Something’s happened with your mother,” he said.
I jumped out of bed, ignoring the cold seeping through the window and the wood floors. Thinking the worst, I grabbed my bathrobe and shrugged it on while I dashed down the stairs. When I got to mother’s bedroom I looked in. I nearly missed a step when I saw mother. She was sitting up in her bed! She looked much better! She had some color in her cheeks, and she was eating a little bit. She was still frail from being sick for so long but it was obvious the worst was over. I rushed over to her and gave her a hug. I was so excited that it was hard to be gentle with her. The next few days mother began to eat again. She slowly regained the color in her cheeks and within a few days she was walking around her room a little bit. At the end of the week she was doing so well that Jonah and I decided it was time to go home. We packed our bags said our goodbyes and left. Back home we settled into our routine again. Jonah and I both began working again and I started planning our wedding.
A couple of months later
I glanced into the full length mirror. My wedding dress was perfect. I felt like a princess in my dress. The way I should feel. I reached up and adjusted my veil. The door opened behind me and I turned to see who I was. It was mother looking healthy and vibrant. She had survived and was doing better now than ever before. I smiled at her. She smiled back.
“You look lovely,” she said. “More beautiful than any butterfly I’ve seen.”
I grinned at her. She remembered that time together as well.
I took a long breath and said, “It’s time, isn’t it?”
She smiled at me knowingly, “It’s time.”
I don’t remember much after that. It was that happiest moment of my life and yet it all went so fast I can barely remember it. I walked down the candle lit aisle on my father’s arm. He gave me away. We said our vows. We kissed and we were married. I don’t remember the reception. All I remember is when we were driving away I looked back. I saw friends and family all standing waving and talking and giggling together. But the one person who caught my eye was my mother. She was standing smiling and waving. I remember waving back to her until I couldn’t see her anymore. I turned around and reached for Jonah, now my husband’s, hand. This past year so much has happened. I’ve learned so much. The most important thing though is to be thankful for the time we have with those we love. We don’t know when will be the last time we see them or the last time we speak to them. We should remember that and always cherish the time we have with them and keep that in mind so that we may make the best of what we have. As I thought this I glanced over at Jonah, my new husband. To myself I made a vow that I would cherish him in this way as well. That I would love him until the end, and I have.