Teeghan grimaced with pain as she stepped into the boat with her family. She’d been sick for half of her life; her pain robbed her ruthlessly. Today, she wasn’t going to let the virus ruin her family time.
Everyone was having fun. Teeghan was in pain, but she loved watching Lyndie reel in a fish. The sky was beautiful. Teeghan tried to force her eyes open, but sleep won and she drifted off.
Suddenly, Teeghan awoke, the sun was gone. Her body shivered violently. She listened for her family, but she couldn’t hear anything but the howling wind. The waves crashed against the boat. Teeghan could feel her lunch starting to make its way upward. She clung to the edge of the boat and chunks of sandwich came hurling out of her mouth.
Her body was jostled by the waves. She ached before, but now she was in agony. It took her every ounce of strength to check the boat for her family. Eventually, Teeghan had to admit that she was totally alone; her family was gone.
She choked back sobs and looked to the heavens. The rain was biting at her face. “Why God, why do you hate me? I’ve been in pain too long. I wanted one special day with my family.”
She fell to her knees, her energy spent. She turned her rage inward. “What a stupid, thoughtless mother, you’re an idiot! What mother falls asleep while her family is on a boat? So what if you were hurting? You’re nothing but a fat, lazy, useless blob. No wonder God hates you.”
Teeghan let her pain and exhaustion overpower her as she once more fell asleep.
Tragically, she awoke in the frigid water. Pieces of the mangled boat were all around her. For hours the sea tossed her around like a rag doll. She desperately clung to the debris while blood oozed from her fingers.
She drifted in and out of consciousness. Later, she awoke on a beach. Huge blisters covered her body. Her tongue was swollen and stuck to the roof of her mouth. She tried to swallow, but there wasn’t any saliva to soothe her raw throat.
She groaned and flopped onto her back. “Please God, I can’t do this anymore; let me die. Bless my family. I know my illness has taken me away from them, but I don’t want them to remember that hideous virus when they think of me. Please let them remember the good times. Don’t let them resent me because I was too sick to make it to all of their events. I need to be remembered with love.”
Teeghan felt her spirit spinning away. She knew death had won; she cried for her family. With one last breath she started to let go…
Then she heard voices. She willed every muscle in her body to move. Slowly, she turned her head and opened her eyes. She thought she must be hallucinating. She wasn’t on the beach, but in a hospital bed. Her throat was sore from the endotracheal tube that connected her to the ventilator. There were monitors beeping and several IVs in her arms and neck.
Best of all, her family was safe. Her oldest, Emma, was smiling at her. “Welcome back, Mom, you sure scared us. The doctors said that the virus had attacked your brain; they didn’t think there was any hope. We need you, please don’t leave us.” Emma’s tears splashed on Teeghan’s face.
Teeghan motioned for something to write with. Her husband, Christian, found a pencil and piece of paper. Teeghan scribbled, What happened to the boat? How did you all survive?
Her son, Quin, read the note. His face became clouded. “What boat? You’ve been in the hospital for weeks. You had herpetic encephalitis. Then you stopped breathing; they put you on a ventilator.” Quinn sobbed as he gently laid his head next to Keeghan’s.
Lyndie’s voice wobbled. “We didn’t know what we’d do without you. I hate seeing you in pain, but you are always there for me. My friends’ parents all work. They never talk or play games like we do. You’re the best mom in the world.”
Keeghan realized for years she had allowed her illness to hold her hostage. She had been beating herself up for something she had no control over. She wrote, Today is the first day of the rest of our lives and it’s going to be wonderful.
Her family shouted, “AMEN!”
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