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In Sickness and in Health
The news was grave, and the Johnson family did not know if they could possibly handle it, but one of them did. The youngest of the family, Taylor Johnson, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the final stages. There was nothing they could do to prevent her from dying. Medical research and medication was not as advanced in the nineties, and, if she was lucky, Taylor could pull off two weeks at the most. The last thing her parents could do was make sure she was happy and comfortable for her last days alive.
Taylor Johnson was an eight-year-old girl with big blue eyes and towhead hair. Before she became sick, she would commonly be about her home neighborhood playing in her yard, especially during the summer when it was nice and warm. In the winter, she would stay inside and watch her favorite Disney movies with a blanket around her small body and her mother providing an extra layer of warmth to her.
When Taylor was just about to turn eight years old, she began to experience massive headaches and lose her sense of balance more often than the normal child would. Her parents brought her in to see her doctor, who then sent them to see a neurologist. When the terrible news came of a brain tumor manifesting to them, they were distraught over losing their baby girl. Sure, they had heard stories of parents who lost their children to leukemia and other types of cancer, but they never thought it could happen to their child. Yes, their child. The person who seemed to give their life joy when it may seem like all joy and happiness has been sucked away.
Now a month into her eight year of life, Taylor requested to her parents that they leave their suburban home and live in the Midwest United States until it was time to go back to California, in which they lived already. Her parents happily obliged to make it work. They wanted her to be happy in every way possible. But what they did not was the fact that Taylor still had one final request.
Taylor’s mother, Carlene Johnson, had relatives that lived in the Midwest, specifically Nebraska, and it was where she was from. She thought it would a great place for Taylor to go and be and peace with herself before she left. She consulted her husband, George Johnson, and her family which lived in those parts. The date would be set so they would leave two days later.
The two days passed like wildfire, and George and Carlene loaded up their car to drive out to Nebraska with their girl. George put a sleeping Taylor in a car seat, and strapped her in. Carlene was already in the passenger seat, waiting to get going. It would be a very long drive across the country, so they left very early in the morning. They would get there the very next day.
There was no traffic to hinder them form getting to Nebraska in a timely fashion. The trip went by super fast, but Taylor was hardly awake for the trip because her body was constantly needing to rest and sleep to keep up with the little strength she had left in her.
The estate in which Carlene’s family lived was a large white house with beautiful scenery and a bright, happy feel to it. An orchard of trees was visible in the back of the house, and many bright colors surrounded and beckoned her to come near them. Taylor knew she would be happy here as they pulled into the driveway of her last home.
Carlene and George were met by Carlene’s family, and they brought Taylor into their home. They gave her the best room with the best view, and she was waited in hand-and-foot. She was given anything she wanted, but the thing she wanted most of all was to see something she had only seen on television or in movies—fireflies.
When she asked her aunt if fireflies lived in the area, she was disappointed to know they did not. Taylor was deeply saddened and felt like she just lost everything over something that should have been something so simple compared to what her parents for her—health.
A week passed at the country house in Nebraska. Taylor spent a large amount of time up in the room she was given, and she was becoming weaker and weaker by the day. Death was looming in her direction, and her parents were feeling it as well. Carlene cried herself to sleep every single night with her husband trying to comfort her, but he eventually lost his composure as well. They always waited for the slightest reason to not weep over their dying child, but it simply could not be done.
What Carlene and George did not know was that their daughter had secretly been praying to see fireflies before she died, and she had perseverance despite what she kept getting from it. But she kept trying anyway.
One night nearing the end of the second week, her parents put her to bed early in hope she might get out of bed the next morning for breakfast with them. George said night to her first, but Carlene stayed behind awhile and said to her child, “I hope you sleep well,” she said with a heavy heart. She kissed her daughter once on the cheek before departing for the night.
Taylor fell asleep just minutes later. She began to dream, and more vividly than she ever had before. She smiled in her sleep like an innocent child, but she was blossoming happy inside her developing dream.
She was surrounded by plants of many colors and a tinkling stream running with the purest of water she could ever imagine. It was her own little fantasy, but the best had yet to come to her, and it was just overhead.
Taylor looked up to see lights coming down and flying all around her. Could they have been what she thought they were? They were indeed. Fireflies were all around her dancing with no cares at all, just the glow they brought with them. They made Taylor laugh as she watched them with a keen eye and attention.
Suddenly, Taylor’s body seemed to be healed of every ailment she ever suffered, including the brain tumor. Her strength was completely restored, giving her the energy to chase them around without having to worry about if she could really do it or not. Of course, this was only a dream, and none of it would be the same ever again.
Every single one of the fireflies came down to her level, and they seemed to lift her into the air. She was floating, and then she was flying with them without their support. She was completely rejuvenated by the happiness they were giving her, and she never wanted to leave this place and go back.
She was eventually set down by the fireflies. She had fallen asleep forever, and was now in a better place overall. Better than the real world and her fantasy world altogether.
Taylor Johnson passed away in her sleep that night.
Carlene and George wept over their daughter the very next morning when they discovered she had died in her sleep. The entire family tried comfort them, but it was very difficult to do. It was one thing to lose a parent of a grandparent, but to lose a child was difficult from any person’s perspective.
Taylor Johnson’s funeral was held the next week at the same estate, but during the night. Family and friends from all over the country came to say goodbye to the little girl forever. George and Carlene talked to an extremely large group people about how their loved their little girl so much and they would miss her now that she had gone to a better place
After the funeral was over, the crowd retired to a reception area for socializing and food available for consumption.
Carlene retired to a balcony in her family’s estate and stared out into the night. She let a tear fall down to the ground below. But something with a slight glow caught her eye as she tried to keep herself together.
A firefly. Carlene watched it intently with confidence Taylor was in a better place as it flew off the balcony and fluttered off into the night.