Her Journey (Her Series Book 2)

By: Rachael Orman

~Melia~

Most women take a pregnancy test by themselves or with their significant other. Not me. I was sitting between a two people who were very likely praying to see two lines on the little test as much as, if not more than, I was. Ellis Crane sat on one side of me while Shannon Ryan sat on the other. If this test turned positive, I would be pregnant with their baby. This was our second attempt, as the first try hadn’t been successful. The second time I’d had to sit between them and pray that their wishes came true and that I could be the one to help them.

On the table before us sat the little test that I had peed on only moments before. Looking at the little piece of plastic that could signify a huge change in my life, I thought back to the first time we all met. I knew of her by name only because my mother talked about her every single time she got home from her chemo treatments. They had similar treatment schedules and had gotten to know each other as they sat there and the hopefully lifesaving poison was dripped into their veins. My mother always told me how young Ryan was and how in love she was with the wonderful man in her life, Ellis. Shannon was in the Marines and picked up going by her last name while there; that’s what I assumed since that’s what everyone, including my mother and Ellis called her.

The day I finally met Ryan, she was curled up under a stack of warm blankets supplied by the chemo nurses as she laughed softly with my mother. There was a thick hulk of a man sitting quietly next to her, holding her hand and listening to the two women converse.

Mother had waved me over and introduced us. From all the stories my mother told me of what a spunky personality and hard shell the woman had, I had certainly had not expected the frail little woman I was introduced to. However, when I reached my hand out to Ryan, her grip was firm and stronger than I would’ve thought possible from her appearance. A woven cap was pulled down over her bald head and her arms were small enough that it wouldn’t be a far stretch to compare them to toothpicks. Her cheeks were sunken in, but when she glanced at the man next to her, the love she had for him was clear by the twinkle in her eye and the soft smile that instantly came to her face.

Feeling like I was intruding on a private moment between the couple, I turned back to my mother. It wasn’t often I saw her when she was getting her treatments; it was hard enough for me to know she was battling breast cancer. Seeing it in person was an entirely different thing. The sterile environment, the other patients, the hushed murmurs of family members— it just all felt too close, too real. If I was honest, my life was so perfect I didn’t want to add in all the sadness that came with such an ugly disease, even for my mother. I didn’t want to face that ugly, dark cloud that hung over my mother’s life. I only came to support her when the guilt finally became too much to bear.

It’s not that I didn’t love my mother; I loved her more than I loved any other person in the world. I just didn’t want to see her in that environment, didn’t want to have those memories taint the mental images I had of her with her hair and makeup perfect. Call it selfish, call it naïve, call it whatever you want to call it, but I didn’t want the memories of the sick old woman that my mother had become. Every day was worse than the last; she had moved in with me a couple of months after she started her treatments and was too ill to take care of herself. I was too busy to care for her myself, so I hired a nurse to help her remember to eat and take her medications, although I did make sure we ate dinner together at least once a week and talk, which for my mother usually meant her treatments since that had become one of her only reasons to leave the house.

Not long after I met Ryan, my mother’s health took a swift downturn and we lost her. While I knew she wasn’t doing well, I hadn’t expected the loss and it was harder than I ever thought it would be to lose my last remaining relative. Oddly, Ryan and Ellis stepped up and were so supportive during the whole grieving process and did everything they could to help with the funeral. My mother had spent over twenty years in the Air Force, so her funeral was filled with service men and women who came to pay their respects even though they didn’t personally know her, which I appreciated because without them, the funeral would’ve been sadly quite empty. She was a lot like me— hard on the outside. It was tough to get under that rock-hard exterior she had, but once you did she treated you like family and would do anything for you.

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