“Two to three months,” the doctor had declared. The words lingered in the chilly, antiseptic air of the dim hospital room.
Anna and Marie stood at the foot of the bed; their expressions frozen in a mixture of bewilderment, anger, and sadness. The sisters struggled to absorb the details the doctor had shared earlier and keep their emotions contained. Their father was in the hospital for the third time. Now they had been told there would be no more hospital stays. Nothing more could be done. The cancer was growing faster than it could be treated.
“Mom should come see him,” Anna whispered.
Their mother was in the waiting room. Their parents had not seen each other in three years. The unpleasantness of their divorce had created a fortress between them. Even after these two months of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and emergency room visits, they remained apart. Anna and Marie had encouraged their mother to visit. Even today, after being told the doctor’s prognosis, she still voiced her reluctance.
“You know she won’t. She said she wouldn’t, unless he asks to see her. We know that’s not going to happen.”
“Ask him. Let’s see what he says.”
Marie gently shook her father’s shoulder and his eyes opened. “Dad, do you want to see Mom? She’s here. She’s in the waiting room.”
His eyes widened for a second and then he said, “Yes.” It was the first word he had spoken all day and it surprised both women. They didn’t think he could still speak and didn’t know he wanted to see her.
“I’ll go get her.” Anna strode toward the waiting room, her heart racing. She glanced up at the fluorescent light panels, unable to form her prayer into words. Since her parents’ divorce, Anna had not prayed for her parents to reunite. Instead, hope dwelled silently in a remote corner of her heart.
“Mom, you need to come and see Dad. Marie asked and he said yes.”
Tears welled up in her mother’s exhausted eyes. “Are you sure I should? What if he gets upset at me?”
“We’ve told you before. He won’t get mad at you. He can barely talk. And he’s different now. Come on. You need to see him now while he’s still alert and can recognize people.” Anna grasped her mother’s hand, gently pulled her out of the chair, and led her down the quiet corridor.
They entered the room. Marie stopped what she was saying and moved away from the side of the bed, making room for her mother, who inched forward. The sisters watched as their parents’ eyes met.
In seconds, the fortress crumbled. Their faces became a slide show of surprise, concern, remorse, and joy. They clutched hands, as tears cascaded down their weary faces. He kissed her hand several times and she touched his nearly bald head. He struggled to speak, but couldn’t form the words.
“Don’t worry. I’m here,” she said. What seemed unthinkable, even hours ago, had become reality. With one person entering a hospital room, a family became reunited.
Anna closed her moist eyes for a moment. Lord, thank you for answering the prayer I didn’t even pray.
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