Sunrise
   from: Grandpa's Ashes

 

          He sat beside the bed looking at this son. He had spent so much time at his son's beside that he no longer noticed the antiseptic smells of the hospital. Nor did he notice the hum of the machines, the blinking lights, the tubes and wires that ran to and from his son's body. These were the necessary things of the hospital, but to him, they were merely background noise.

          He and his wife took turns in the bedside chair hoping against hope that they might get a few minutes with their son when he was conscience. Due to the boy's declining health, those precious moments were becoming fewer. He and his wife sat for thirty minutes together before she had to go home, get some sleep, then she would be off to work again. Bills had to be paid and the insurance had run out long ago. Their life now was work, hospital, sleep, then back to work again.

          He looked at his son sleeping. He remembered the vibrant young boy he had been. He remembered taking him on camping trips. His son loved camping. All that seemed so long ago now. He snapped back to the reality of the hospital room. His eyes searched through the noise to find his son's breathing. The doctors said it could be any day now. They had given up. The treatments and medications that held out hope, had been discontinued. Now his son was “made comfortable”. He looked at his son. He did not seem comfortable. The boy was ten years old, and barely weighed thirty pounds. The life-giving machines did what they could, but the cancer was relentless.

“It has to be tonight”, the man whispered to himself. He and his wife had secreted a coat and warm cloths by the hospital staff days ago. The car was full of gas, and the place on the hill had been made ready. He looked at the clock, it was 11:30. After the 12:00 shift change he would put the plan in motion.

          “Damn” he said. It was 1:45, he had dozed off. He could still make it, but he had to move quickly. He took a few seconds to go over the sequence of removing the wires and tubes from his son's body, and then gently dressed his son. Now in the car, he called his wife to tell her they were on their way. She would meet them there. He glanced at his son in the backseat. He was still asleep.

          I-95 North to Route 1, then to Mt. Hall Road, he was driving on autopilot. He had driven the roads so many times, he had every twist and turn memorized. He was racing against time, racing against life's end, and driving towards a memory. At the end of Mt. Hall Road was the peak of Mt. Hall. It provided an unencumbered view to the east.

          He stopped the car at the roads end where his wife was waiting. She got in the backseat and cradled her son while her husband unloaded blankets and a homemade lean-to for three. It was a mile and a half to the spot they cleared. He had to make two trips to get every there and set up. His son was awake when it was time for him. He and his wife carried the boy between them.

          Now at the spot, they did all they could to keep him warm and comfortable. Their son, who had somehow remained awake the entire time, was in pain. He bravely kept that information to himself. The three of them sat talking about the past. The boy seemed more alive now then had been for several months. It was then that his father and mother knew that they had done the right thing. The boy said several times, that he would like to see the sunrise again, “like we did in the old days, Dad”. At the time, he was talking wishfully, knowing it was impossible. The father said something that made the three of them laugh. The morning was breaking, and with the coming sun was a crisp breeze.

 

“Do you remember the song son?” , the father asked.

“Yes, I remember the song Dad.” he replied.

“Look out there. It is time to sing.”, the father said.

All three of their voices were whispers, and singing in unison as the sun pulled itself over the horizon.


 

“-Li'l Darlin',

-it's been a long cold lonely winter.

-Li'l Darlin',

-it seems a year since we've been here.

-Here comes the sun,

-Here comes the sun.”


 

          The sun had made its way to the morning sky and warmed they faces with its light touch. Now, like the did in better days, they sung a little louder:


 

“-Little Darlin',

-I feel like ice that's slowly melting.

-Little Darlin',

-it seems like years since its been clear.

-Here comes the sun, little Darlin'

-here comes the sun, I say it's alright.”


 

          Realizing their son had stopped singing, the mother and father looked into their son's face. Eyes closed, with a smile; he was no longer breathing. His wife laid her head on the boy's chest and sobbed. His father looked away, wiped a tear from his face, and sang: “It's alright, now”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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