General Non-Fiction posted October 12, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
Joyous occasion, ominous undercurrent

Shadow of Death

by Elizabeth Emerald

My son Dan was married Saturday. The wedding was wonderful, as heralded by the glorious autumn sun. A friend of the couple, John (certified "JP for a day"), officiated.

The ceremony was traditional. Given that most couples script their vows, I was surprised that Dan and Teri didn't do so.

I was further surprised when John, before initiating the ceremony, announced that Dan and Teri planned to start a family right away.

I was awed by the prospect of becoming a grandmother in the not-so-far future. And saddened at the near certainty that Teri's mother would not become a grandmother, except posthumously.

Mary has stage-four brain cancer; she was not expected to survive long enough to see her daughter married.

On the eve of the wedding, I met Mary for the first, and likely last, time.

Dan and Teri had primed me to think Mary was a capital-B witch. I found Mary delightful: she radiated warmth and gentle humor. Mary's love for Teri and Dan was made manifest by both her words and her adoring gaze.

Mary's tears glistened as she held my hands in hers as she took her leave. Even as Mary implored me to visit her--we are on opposite coasts, 2,000 miles apart--we both knew we'd never see each other again.


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