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All That We Have

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"Get well soon," my granddaughter says as she's ushered out of my hospital room by my daughter-in-law.

I won't be getting better soon, but nobody has the heart to tell her. I am dying of brain cancer. I haven't been out of my bed in three months. The doctor won't give me any direct information, but I know what my outlook is since they've placed me in Hospice. That's where you go to die comfortably.

The IV in my arm is running low. A nurse should be here soon to replenish it. It's one of the few things I have left to look forward to. My family barely visits anymore; the hospital is a two-hour drive from home.

I understand though. It's hard to watch your father die slowly of something no one can control. I'm not scared though, I have my next life to look forward to.

The constant beeping of my heart rate monitor is slowly driving me crazy. Sometimes, I wish it would just end already, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to die just yet. I've been in and out of this hospital for a long time now.

Last summer, I broke my hip. I've been confined to a wheelchair ever since. Losing your mobility after having it for almost seventy years is a terrifying thing.

I can hear the Doctor talking outside of my room. Another man down the hall has just died, and his family can't afford to fly him to their hometown for the funeral. They're going to stick his body in a freezer until somebody drives up to collect him. I can't stop myself from thinking about my fate. My family lives far away, will the same thing happen to me?

The Doctor looks in my room as I lay here, pretending to be asleep. Maybe I'll learn something about my condition. He eyes a clipboard before sighing. The usually cheerful nurse has a sad look on her face. I know I'm close to dying. They're keeping something from me. Who do they think they are? I have a right to know about whatever is going on with me!

The reality of my situation hits me like a brick wall for the hundredth time today. Now I'm not sure if I want to know how bad I've got it. I don't know if I could handle knowing that I'll die tomorrow.

How will my family react? The last thing I told my daughter was that I never wanted to see her again. That was twenty years ago. I've regretted that every day since; even more so now that I'm on my death bed.

She can't even be bothered to visit me. At least I know she made it in life. She's a lawyer. The day she got accepted to that Ivy-League school was the proudest day of my life. I never got to see her graduate. After all these years, she still won't answer my calls. I shouldn't have let something so simple as a religious argument get in between us.

My son may not have been as successful, but at least he still goes to God's house on Sundays. I'm proud of him for that. He's a mechanic for a big franchise. It's not much, but it's honest work, and it puts bread on his table.

The nurse enters my room, but she won't look me in the eye. I didn't even get a smile today. Normally she greets me with an exaggerated hello, and a big grin. I miss that. I still thought I'd survive back then. I know better than that now.

She wordlessly changes out the bag that my IV is connected to. Normally she'll tell me a little bit about some sort of change in whatever is going into my wrist, but today she just mumbled something before hurrying out of the room.

I wish I had somebody to talk to. My son insists on keeping me all alone, though. Says it would get annoying having to hear somebody ramble on all day. Right now, I just wish I could hear somebody that talks too much. There isn't any topic that would bother me right now, as long as I get to hear somebody.

The Doctor enters my room shortly after the Nurse left. He's got a phony smile on, but something's different. His practiced expression falters for a moment as he checks out another clipboard at the bottom of my bed. He gives me some lie about 'looking better' before leaving the room.

I wonder how many days I have left? It's a sad thing, when you measure the rest of your life in days. Maybe hours for all I know. I don't even know what day it is anymore. I lost track of that a week ago.

I haven't cared enough to ask, not that I could do so very effectively. I haven't been able to speak very well ever since the cancer spread to its more recent boundaries.

A hiccup in my heart rate brings me to better awareness. It happens every now and then, but its been happening more frequently lately. I'll probably go later today, if not tomorrow.

It's probably for the best. I'm nothing but a burden anymore, ever since my medical bills got more expensive than my social security. I wish I'd gotten better life insurance. I don't think I'd get a very good deal if I tried to get a little coverage today.

I wonder if I've been good enough in life to get to Heaven? I've followed the Good Book all of my life, but I'm still not sure. I guess nobody's sure at this point in their life. Will the Lord be merciful of my sins?

Does the Lord even exist?

No! I can't be doubting him now. Not when I'm so close to meeting him. It's just my nerves. I know I'm going to his kingdom soon, and it's normal to be thinking these thoughts. It's all in my head.

The sun is setting now. I reckon I've got about thirty minutes left before I can't see it anymore. I've gotten used to using the shadows to tell time.

There's a clock in here, but the batteries died a while ago. Nobody thinks it's important enough to change them. Judging by the time it gets dark, I would be able to tell what the actual time is, but I don't know what day it is. It was so close to daylight savings time when I lost track, that I don't know if it's seven o' clock, or five.

I can see a plane landing at the airport nearby. I watch them land and take off all day. It's a busy airport; there's usually a bunch of flights every day. It's not often I can look out the window without seeing a plane.

I've never been in a plane before. I wonder what it's like to be that high above the ground? I get a sinking feeling in my chest when I realize that I'll never know.

The pain is back. It starts with a dull ache in my head, but pretty soon it's going to erupt into a crippling sharp pain that renders me near incapable of coherent thought.

I've never felt this kind of pain all of my life, and that's saying something. I've felt a lot of pain; I used to be a diesel mechanic. Dropping one of the heads of a semi's engine on your foot is painful, but it's nothing compared to this.

The Doctor won't give me any more painkillers than are necessary. He says they should still be working when I cry out in pain, and he tells my family that I'm just being dramatic. I hear screaming all around me all day. I know they're all suffering from the same thing. He won't give them any more of the medication either.

The pain is getting worse. I want to pull my hand up to my head and try to rub my temples, but I can't muster the strength to move. I haven't been able to move my hands more than a couple of inches for a few days now.

In about an hour, the pain will get bad enough for me to start screaming. Then I go through that for another hour before they finally give me another dose. It's all routine for me now.

Only a faint glow is left of the Sun as it lowers itself over the city skyline. If only I could see the treeline at my house one more time. I haven't been to my house in ten years. My wife got that in the divorce.

Ever since then, I've been living in a retirement home. At least when I was there, I had somebody to talk to. Those old people always wanted to play some card game, but they were great company when my family wasn't with me.

I get a terrible feeling in my chest before I cough up a mixture of blood and bile. I'll have to wait until the nurse visits me in a little while before that gets cleaned up. I can't even wipe my face anymore.

Maybe the blood is a sign that I'll die soon. I kind of hope so, as bad as that sounds. I know I shouldn't want to die, but it's hard to maintain the will to live, when there's nothing worth living for.

My heart rate monitor is fluctuating constantly now. Maybe that's a good sign. Or a bad sign. However you want to take it.

I can't help but let out a groan as the pain in my head gets worse. Maybe I can muster up the energy to ask for painkillers when the nurse comes to check on my heart rate. I hope so. The pain comes in waves. It's always there, but every few seconds, it grows in intensity for a short while before subsiding to a dull ache that never leaves my attention.

The Doctor and Nurse rush into my room. Maybe my heart rate is worse than I thought. They're both shouting things at each other. I close my eyes and say a quick prayer, hoping they'll stop; hoping that the pain will end this time.

My vision starts to blur as my brain begins to shut down. It's going to happen today. Probably within the next couple of minutes. I wonder if my granddaughter is home yet? I hope they break it to her gently. I've never been able to tell her how much I love her, but she's the greatest thing to happen to me in these last few years of my life.

I can't hear them yelling anymore; my ears are failing me now. I can see their lips moving, but I can't hear anything except the pain. The Doctor is doing all sorts of different things to me that don't really make sense. I guess they probably would if I had any medical knowledge.

I can feel myself scream, but I can't even hear my own last garbled screeching. My vision has almost completely left me. I can only make out basic shapes now. I know that two more nurses have entered the room. It won't help, though. I'm going to die, and only God can stop it.

The pain vanishes as my vision leaves me. I can't see, I can't hear. I'm finally feeling peaceful.

I wonder what Heaven is like?

I ponder that last thought as I slip from life. A wave of panic floods over me as I see what awaits me.

Nothing.

Nothing awaits me. There is no afterlife.

This short, miserable existence is all that we have.

-

(This story is credited to a person called Brony-vas-Normandy.)

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