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A Grand Day Rising

Lana looked through the open slits of the blinds covered window at the huge gnarled old majestic tree sitting amid the small parklike expanse of green grass. She had looked at this vista everyday for the last seven unhappy months, six of which she had been waiting to die. In a few more minutes, she would get to see the beautiful place in person. As she sat on the side of the hospital bed, she turned to look across at the identical bed where her mother, Rebecca, had lain also for the same seven months also waiting to die. The staff had called them “the Parker girls”, mother and daughter both dying of the same disease.

For as far back as she could remember, it had just been the two of them. She had been told that her father died before she had turned three years old. Rebecca never spoke of him even the few times when she had asked about him.

“He doesn’t matter! There’s only the two of us!”, Rebecca had told her angrily.

There was no family around for her to ask about him. Rebecca would only say that she was a orphan with no family. She had never asked Rebecca about other family again. Growing up, she had seldom been separated from her mother. Rebecca had wanted to home school her, but she had been forced to work outside of the home and allow her to go to public school. Nevertheless, Rebecca had made a nuisance of herself questioning everything that they had taught her in the classroom. Through out her school years, Rebecca had controlled her activities and interactions with other people. She thought back to the year that she had graduated from high school. Not having had any friends to interact with, she had studied ad excelled in school. She had been the valedictorian of her graduating class.

“Why do you want to participate in some stupid ceremony with dozens of people that don’t matter?!”, Rebecca had demanded to know.

“I have the highest grade point average of my entire class! I’ve earned the privilege to march and be recognized for that accomplishment!”, she had told her mother.

“No! I forbid it! You don’t need those people! You will stay here with me!”, Rebecca had ordered.

For the only time in her life, she had defied Rebecca and attended her graduation. Rebecca had been furious calling her ungrateful of wanting to abandon the life that Rebecca had made for her. Rebecca became violently ill for several weeks. She had not defied Rebecca again.

She had gotten a job after graduation and attended community college rather than accepting one of the scholarships that she had been offered. As she looked back on her life now, she realized just how much control of her life she had given over to Rebecca and her irrational behavior. Over the years, her only respite had been her job where she had watched other young women in her age group fall in love; get married; and start families of their own. Rebecca ran away any young man, even any other people who showed an interest in simply being her friend.

The disabling illness that had them both in the hospital had struck when she had just turned 31 years old. Rebecca had been stricken with it first and had to be hospitalized. Rebecca had demanded that she be at the hospital 24 hours a day and would rant and rave at the doctors and staff when she was told that it wasn’t possible because of hospital rules. Five months after Rebecca was stricken, she became ill with the disease and had to be hospitalized. Rebecca was pleased and spoke of them dying together. She was grateful that she was in a separate room from her mother and it was during this time that she met her lifesaver, Florence James, her daytime nurse. Florence talked about God, something she knew nothing about. Rebecca had hated any talk of church and God. Noticing that she loved to read and how smart she was, Florence had bought her books on metaphysics and religious science. She would read and ask Florence questions about her faith and belief in God. Florence answered them and she began to believe that there was a God.

She felt that she had been dealt a death blow when their doctor had moved her into the same room with Rebecca. The one saving grace was that Florence would still be a part of her care team. Rebecca told her everyday that it would be a joy for them to die and be buried together. She had decided that dying a 32 years of age when she hadn’t truly lived was not what she wanted to do. Rebecca would throw daily tantrums when Florence would come and take her from the room for an hour’s respite from Rebecca and they would pray together. She had come to believe in prayer. She began to get better. The doctors had finally decided upon a treatment that was helping her to heal and should have helped Rebecca. Her mother was getting worse and demanding that the doctor stop the treatment for both of them. Rebecca ordered her to tell the doctor to stop the treatment so that they could die together and be together for eternity. For only the second time in her life, she defied her mother. She wanted to live. She wanted to find her purpose in life and do all of the things that she had dreamed of in her head, but had never spoken about.

Finally, their doctor decided that she should be in a separate room away from Rebecca again. The night before she was to be moved, Rebecca died. She felt sorrow, but for the first time felt that she could remember, she took a deep, unencumbered breath. With the new treatment, her body began to truly fight the disease. Now, a month later, she was healed. Today, she was being released to live a new life. Florence had helped her through any feelings of guilt about her mother. Today, she was a Phoenix rising from the ashes of near death. This day was a grand new day for her.

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