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Undeniable Strength

By , Gretna, NE
The stifling aroma of medical equipment is distributed throughout the hospital waiting room as the excruciating news is regrettably announced to the entire family. My mothers trembling hands grip the frigid sides of the plastic chair, bulky knuckles turning white. She steadily stands from her position on the edge of her chair and walks calmly out the automatic doors. She squints into the fiery sunset that faces her, and heads home to deliver the news to her family.

As you step casually onto the wood paneled floor of our entry way my inviting mother immediately caters to your every need. Our charcoal grey house plastered into the dreary scenery of a stuffy suburb doesn’t look inviting, but as my mother greets you with open arms you suddenly feel welcome. Your curious eyes wander across the autumn colored walls that surround you. You notice a middle aged woman with a smiling set of teeth and a raspy, overused voice encouraging you with every syllable that slips across her berry pigmented lips. She works tirelessly on her hands and knees for her family and occupies more of her time to a full time job. The house looks spotless, every glistening mirror free of all smudges or imperfections. You then come to the quick conclusion that this is certainly a place that could be called home. That night as my mother pulled up to our gravely driveway in a glossy suburban, our home did not feel that way. My grandmothers strong heart finally gave out that night as she was hesitantly taken off of life support. She did not want to live her life attached to a machine. She refused to.

My mothers hands shake as they reach towards mine and I notice that her nails are painted a vibrant scarlet shade, as always. Our eyes reluctantly meet. A beautiful mixture of soft emerald green specks unite with gleaming golden pigments in her eyes. A glistening tear mingles with the beige skin on her cheek. It is then that I realized, I lost a grandmother, but she lost a mom. Her thin, chapped lips part ever so slightly and a single whimper escapes her frowning mouth. The next minute, it’s like nothing happened. She embodies undeniable strength for my brother and I. Slight lines draw from the corners of her nose to the edges of her lips from laughing and another crease crosses her forehead from years of worry. Her firm arms envelope us into an embrace, letting us know that she is there. The familiar fragrance of my mother’s perfume surrounds us. Her highlighted hair frames her oval shaped face perfectly. Her ears are always decorated in extravagant golden hoops. Below her earrings I noticed her jaw clenched very tightly. She was discarding any form of weakness within her mind and hiding it behind the strength of her clenched teeth. Her lips do not tremble and her eyebrows don’t arch upward in sadness. In her arms lay two screaming children, but she stays solid as a rock, quietly reciting the melodic lyrics of a familiar song.

“You are my sunshine,
my only sunshine.
You make me happy,
when the skies are grey.
You'll never know dear,
how much I love you.
So please don't take
my sunshine
away.”

She doesn’t crumble beneath the agony of the news she received earlier that night. She taught me that things get better. At the end of the day there is always a reason to pull the corners of your mouth into a smile. Sometimes, at the worst possible moment, life drastically changes, and things don’t always go as planned. For me, this experience is comparable to summer transitioning into autumn. Trees turn dark and gloomy as bark loses its luster. Brittle leaves plummet to the icy ground signifying the end of the trees life for that year. Eventually brand new leaves will sprout from the tree, and it will be healthy and green once again. Through death there are also new beginnings. Wrapped in the warmth of my mothers hug, I knew that somehow I would be able to go on. She gave me the strength to follow her example and be strong alongside her. My mothers trembling hands gripped the frigid sides of the plastic chair, but she knew that she would be able to go on.





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