Respite – Day 2.5

The floor was quiet, not in an eerie way, but in a respectful way. Her room was dark and somber, we waited in the hall. They showed us the room, set aside, where it would be happening. The extent to which the staff had gone to to help see this happen. Her father tells us how the day had been going, successful surgery, but tests revealed more bad news. The worst. The cancer had begun truly showing its aggressive side, and this time… they were out of options. 

“Two things,” he quietly informs us, “she only wanted two things. For her kids and sister to get here… and to get married.”

We enter her room, and the look on her face is fairly blank at first. But she is handed her glasses and recognition dons on her. My mom goes to her for a hug and her face crumples into tears, “thank you for being here,” she whispers around her oxygen. My mom hugs her, and a slight smile comes to her face as she states, “I’m getting married today.” My mom tells her she loves her, and she tells my mom she loves her back. When she steps away, I realize I am next. She looks small and frail to me, and I’m not sure I can hug her. I do anyway. She whispers to me, “take care of my sister,” and I tell her, “of course.” And then she holds onto me. She holds onto me like a lost child looking for the way home. And all I can do is hold onto her back, until she lets go of me. I hold my breath and pour as much strength and calm towards her as I can. And then she lets go.

The staff had brought in a wedding dress and tux. They’d even found clothes for the children. They’d baked cake and provided cookies and refreshments. They were going to make sure this was as fabulous as possible. The crowd of people who showed up, was awe inspiring alone. To feel the weight of the world’s unfairness upon you, to see this room full of people who love and support you. These people who dropped everything to celebrate your life and this moment with you. The room was full of tears, tears of sadness, and tears of joy. 

The groom played, Baby I Love Your Way, as her father wheeled her down the hall. She wore an off the shoulders gown and a boho style headband. The groom took her hand as my mother officiated. Inside the room was crowded with family and friends. Outside the room were dozens of staff members. Both parents, her two children, and her sister all gave her away. And in the end, the groom took her face and kissed her gently on the mouth, then on the forehead. She was married.

She was finally married and she was surrounded by family and friends. Her parents let the cheer of the moment wash over them. It was a bittersweet moment. Their eldest daughter was finally married. A final wish granted. And now she could sleep peacefully.

“Are you ready to go back?” My mother whispers to her, after five minutes of her sitting with her eyes closed. 

“No way,” she responds. 

“Isn’t it a little weird, all of us standing around staring at you?” My mother whispers. 

“That is because, I am the queen.” And for tonight, and maybe forever, she was..

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