Pain encapsulated her body from every angle and she felt like was drowning from the inside out. She knew it would be over soon, or at least, she prayed it would. What choice did she have, but to just wait it out?
Lucy opened her eyes and looked around her. The room she sat in was almost empty, save for one person sitting in the chair across the hall from her. They held a book up in front of their face so she couldn’t make out who it was. She didn’t really care in that moment as she shifted positions, trying to find any manner in which to combat the pain finding its way to every nerve ending in her body. She prayed no one could see her grimace and she prayed she could find a way to get up from the chair and make her way out to the parking lot. She only had to make it down the street to her little apartment above the diner, but right now, that seemed a near impossibility. She pushed the stroller sitting in front of her back and forth, grateful that her daughter slept peacefully, unaware of the struggle her mother was currently going through.
After what seemed like an eternity, Lucy was able to get up and make her way to the front door of the small library. Leaning heavily on the stroller, she barely noticed that the chair where the person who was reading, now sat vacant.
Lucy walked outside and into the bright sun. She looked down at her daughter and pulled the cover over the car seat to keep the rays from shining in her baby’s eyes.
“Almost home, baby girl.” She said. All she had wanted was to take her daughter to the library for a little mommy and me group, but her body had other plans and she had spent most of her time forcing herself to keep from passing out. She knew Dustin would be furious at her for having tried to go out in this state. She hoped that she would be able to avoid his admonishments if she didn’t pass too close to the old auto body shop where he was sure to be working. She stopped when she heard her name called from across the street.
“Lucy, come on by and bring that little grandbaby of mine with you.”
Lucy saw her father waving from across the street and forced a smile, the waves of pain still gradually dying down. She crossed the intersection and rolled into the auto body shop.
Her father gave her a hug and she winced in pain, but tried not to show it.
“You alright, Lu?” He asked, never missing a beat as he pulled the cover back on the stroller and looked at little Emylin sleeping in the stroller. “Your mom is pushing herself too hard again, isn’t she?”
Lucy shook her head and unbuckled Emylin from her car seat, she was about to pick her up, when her father pointed to an old chair in the shop. “You sit down, I’ll take her.”
Lucy wanted to argue, but knew not to fight him. She slowly made her way over to the seat and eased herself down.
“Why won’t you let me help you?” He asked as he rocked Emylin back and forth.
“Because, I should be able to do this myself. I shouldn’t be having to ask for help, to have to give in to this weak body of mine.”
“Lucy, it’s okay, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay for a person in your…with what you are going through to need help, to want it.”
Lucy knew that it was still hard for him to vocalize her diagnosis and even she was still having a hard time accepting it.
“When is your next treatment?” Dustin asked her.
“Next Monday.” She answered, knowing what was coming next.
“I’m taking you and there are no arguments. Joshua can help take care of Emylin.”
“What’s that?” Joshua had just come into the shop.
“I said you can take care of Emylin while I take Lucy to the doctor next week.”
Joshua looked at his little sister, “Of course I can.” He came up to Emylin and planted a kiss on her forehead. “Of course, we are going to have lots of fun, aren’t we, Little Gal?” Emylin giggled and tried to grab her uncle’s face.
Dustin had been offering to help Lucy for months now, but Lucy had been stubborn and felt weak and a failure, not wanting to let her daughter down, trying to be everything she could to her. But she knew that this was getting to be more than she could handle.
“I want you to move in with me.”
“Dustin, I couldn’t put this on you.” Lucy said, knowing the fight was lost before it even began.
“Lucy, I just got you back. I’m not losing you again. I missed the first eighteen years of your life. I don’t plan on missing any more of it. Please don’t shut me out.”
Joshua had taken Emylin inside and Dustin went to kneel before Lucy, taking her cold hands in his. “This is what family is for. Family is here for each other. Please don’t try to keep this all inside. To hide what you are going through. It’s not fair to Emylin or to you. You need us. And Lucy,” Dustin had tears in his eyes. “I need my daughter. I can’t even take the thought of losing all over again.”
Lucy had tried to hold back the tears, but couldn’t.
“Dustin, I….thank you.” she replied, accepting his offer. She had been fighting so hard and trying to survive on her own, that she didn’t even know how to accept help from those who loved her. She didn’t even know that there could actually be a parent who wanted her to be okay, who cared about her well being. She had kept so much pain, so much hurt bottled up inside, making an armor of protection around her. She had not been willing to let anyone in, save for one, but she had lost him and she knew there wouldn’t be any hope for that now.
“Come inside and join us for dinner,” Dustin offered, holding her arm with one hand and pushing the stroller with the other. Walking around to the back of the shop, where his small little house sat, she saw Joshua was playing with Emylin in the grassy yard.
Lucy went to sit in the grass with them and laughed as her daughter giggled in Joshua’s arms. Lucy’s heart yearned for that which she couldn’t have and as if a feeling had come over her, a tug on her heart, she looked out into the street, thinking she had seen someone there, but no such thing and she brushed it off as just her heart playing tricks on her.
She turned back to Joshua, who was talking to Emylin who was now sitting in his lap, “And when Mommy is all better, we are going to take you down to Yellowstone and we can go see all the wonderful animals there and the trees and the rivers and the geysers, which shoot way up into the air.” He said as he lifted Emylin into the air. She smiled and waved her clenched fists with glee.
As they got up and walked to the house, a figure stepped out of the shadows and watched them go inside, a book still in his hand.
Photo Source Unknown
Song Inspiration – Evynne Hollens Cover of “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress the Musical