Spiritual Fiction posted April 3, 2011

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A Lily Most Pure

by Writingfundimension

"How's our girl doing tonight?"

In the dim lighting of the oncology Intensive Care Unit, I recognized the voice before the face. "Hi Diane," I replied, "Is it time for your shift already?"

Her hand rested on my shoulder as she said, "Just came on. I thought maybe a sponge bath and some lotion on her legs and hands might be soothing. You look like hell, Paula. Why don't you head home for a few hours. You know she'll be in good hands now that I'm here."
We both smiled at that.

"Be back soon. Love you, honey." I whispered in Vannie's ear. Her cheek was cool beneath my lips.

Emotional exhaustion kept me moving down the hallway. I felt tension building. What if she dies tonight? The doctor said it's just a matter of days, maybe hours now. 

The elevator doors opened and I stepped inside.  Diane was right. The comfort of my own bed and time away from the hospital was what I needed. 

A hot shower released all my knots. Putting water on the stove to boil for tea reminded me to get the thermos out of my duffel bag. Reaching inside, I found a folded page of watercolor paper.  

Vannie loved drawing and painting. Before we discovered the malignant brain tumors, she'd dreamt of attending the Sorbonne, in Paris. Her picture, a Cape-Cod-style cottage surrounded by a white picket fence and painted in soft hues of blue and violet, seemed real enough to step into.

I clutched it to my heart, closed my eyes; and prayed to Jesus for strength and release of my fear.

Something tickled my nose and I opened my eyes to find I was in a meadow lying on warm, soft earth. The air was thick with the scent of flowers and the sun was directly overhead in a clear blue sky. Vannie sat on the ground next to me.  Her hair was long and lustrous - like it had been before the cancer treatments.

"Vannie, what's happened to you...the last time at the hospital ...darling, you look wonderful."

The sound of her goofy, explosive laugh was more precious than a thousand angel's trumpets.

"Don't you just adore this dress." She preened for me. "I found it in the house up there on the hill. It has the most beautiful garden, too, Mom, filled with Calla Lilies and rose bushes. Can't wait to get out my brushes and paints." 

"You know I can't stay, Mom. That I have to go live in my new house."

"I'll miss you terribly, Vannie; but it's where you belong now.

Watching my daughter make her way up the stone steps until she disappeared from sight, I knew her suffering was over. 

The funeral was attended by several oncology nurses and Doctor David McKeller who felt he had failed Vannie and me by not being able to 'save' her. She was the youngest patient he'd seen die.

The simple ceremony would have pleased Vannie. Friends remarked about the way I handled my grief.  But I chose to keep my vision private.  It was my daughter's last gift to me and is all the proof I need that I will see her again when I, too, step across the veil.



Flash Fiction Writing Contest contest entry


Word count: 543
This story is based on a vision I had of my mother after her death. It is impossible to put into words the vitality I saw in her face. It was like nothing in this world.
Oncology: The study of tumors.
Sorbonne: The original name for the University of Paris and still used today. It was established in the 12th century and is believed to be the oldest University in Europe.
Photograph: Taken in California during my Spring vacation.
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