“He’s dying, damn it, and he’s all alone!”
“Mom—he’s not alone.”
Holly looked at her nineteen-year-old daughter through narrowed eyes. She held her cell phone in both hands after hanging up with the hospital as she stood next to the kitchen island.
“He’s not alone? Abby, what are you talking about?” Holly demanded.
Just a few feet away, standing by the kitchen table, Abby put her own cell phone down and replied, “Dad’s not alone—you know that.”
“Really?” Holly seethed with her head tilted. “Who’s with him, then?”
Abby answered, “Jesus.”
Throwing her chin back, Holly groaned, “Christ almighty.”
After folding her arms, Abby declared, “Exactly.”
Holly stomped past her daughter before plopping down on the living room couch. With her elbows upon her knees, she dropped her head into her hands.
Abby did not move from her spot, nor did she unfold her arms. She questioned, “You know that, right?”
Holly murmured into her palms, “Yes, I know. But your father needs more than that. He needs us.”
Abby lifted her eyebrows just a bit as she asked, “He needs more than Jesus? Before the coma, when they kicked everyone out of the hospital, Dad texted me. He said he wasn’t afraid. He cited Psalm 23.”
Holly lifted her head up and stared at her daughter. “I really don’t want to hear about the valley of Death right now, okay?”
“Are you worried about him?” Abby asked.
“What’s the matter with you?” Holly spat. “Of course, I’m worried about him! The doctor said he’s not going to make it!”
“But Dad’s okay with that,” Abby said as she unfolded her arms and shrugged her shoulders. “He wants to go to Heaven. That’s what we all want, right?”
“God,” Holly mumbled. “You go off to college and become a theology expert …”
“No,” Abby answered a little coldly. “I’m not a theology expert; I’m just repeating everything you taught me. What’s the matter with you?”
Holly jumped from the couch, pointed at Abby, and screamed, “Your father is dying! My husband is dying—alone, in a coma, suffocating—and nobody cares! Our own daughter doesn’t care!”
Abby put her hands on her hips and took a deep breath. Once she had control, she said, “I care. I care very much. But you and Dad taught me to believe, to have faith, and to accept Christ into my heart. You taught me to do these things so we could one day reach Heaven and join Him in all His glory. Are you saying you don’t actually believe those things?”
Holly fell to her knees and began to cry. Between sobs, she said, “Those are just things we tell kids … children’s stories …”
Abby stood her ground. “That’s not true. Not to me. Not to Dad.”
Unable to meet her daughter’s eyes, Holly remained on her knees with her head hung low.
“I don’t understand you,” Abby confessed. “You were our youth group sponsor. We prayed together every dinner—every night before bed. You got me up every Sunday for church. I don’t …”
“Those things …” Holly began as she fought to stifle her tears, “… they were just the right thing to do. I wanted to raise you … right.”
With eyes widened, Abby asked, “Are you saying you never actually believed?”
Holly faced her daughter again. Tears ran down her cheeks and her throat hitched. As she started to answer, Abby interrupted her.
“Don’t,” Abby said. “Don’t say anything. You don’t have to answer.”
Abby moved toward her mother, dropped to her knees as well, and wrapped her arms around her.
The daughter placed her head atop the mother’s and squeezed tightly.
“You’re upset. No matter what, I know Jesus is sitting with Dad right now, holding his hand. And Dad knows it, too. He’s not afraid. He’s joyful.”
Holly whispered, “I hope you’re right.”
The two women remained on the floor, hugging one another, waiting for the call.
Copyright © 2020 by Scott William Foley
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.