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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: End Times (02/27/14)

TITLE: The Grace To Be Brave
By Leola Ogle


I awake before dawn, Nancy asleep beside me, her mouth slightly open. She makes soft noises in her sleep. Its the little things about her that invade my thoughts. Shes my other half, my soul mate, my wife of thirty-nine years.

As if sensing Im awake, her eyes flutter open. She smiles in half-sleep and my heart lurches with the depth of my love. Dont do this, I say to her.

Quit worrying, Mike. Itll be all right.

But it wont be all right. Itll never be right again. We argued last night. I hate disagreeing with her. While arguing, I begged, Why do you want to do this? I dont understand.

Im not sure I understand either, but Im determined. Its the tone she uses when trying to convince our grandchildren that more candy isnt good for them.

Do you remember when I proposed? What did I say? What did I promise you?

Oh, Mike, of course I remember. You said youd love me until the end of time and youd always take care of me.

I sobbed then and she tried to comfort me. Ive cried a lot the last few weeks. Ive tried to hide my tears from her, but she knew.

Youve always taken care of me, Mike. Such good care that I seldom had to do anything on my own. But you cant fix this. Its too late.

But I know you so well, Nancy. Youre afraid to do this.

She took my hand and held it against her rapidly beating heart. Im very afraid. She laughed then. Ive spent my whole life being afraid of so many things. Now I want to be brave. I need to be brave. And her voice broke.

This morning, my love is a consuming ache. We lay together watching the sunrise through our bedroom window. Finally Nancy throws the covers back. We better get up. Jenna and Aaron will be here soon.

Im overcome with fear about why she wants to do this. Does she want to end it immediately?

Our daughter, Jenna, her husband, Aaron and our grandchildren, Abby and Caroline, arrive. I can tell Jennas been crying. Couldnt you talk Mom out of this, Dad?

Humor me, Jenna. Its my sixtieth birthday, Nancy says, coming in from the bedroom. And, yes, your dad tried to talk me out of it. She hugs Jenna and kisses her cheek. Why is everyone acting like this is the end of the world?

Oh, Mom, Jenna chokes on sobs, and tears well in Nancys eyes.

The phone rings and its our son, Michael. I hand it to Nancy and stand close enough to hear her end of the conversation. Nancy laughs, and says, No, Im not brave, Michael. Im actually quite terrified. She laughs again from something Michael says and responds, No, its not on my bucket list. Ive never had a bucket list. Everyone deals with things differently. Its how Im dealing with it.

She ends by saying, I love you, too, Son. With all my heart.

Nancys shoulders slump, and were a solemn group making our way outside to Jennas van. I worry about Nancys energy level, but she assures me shes okay. When we arrive, I say, I thought the airplane would be bigger.

An hour later, Nancy has done it. My wife who hates to fly, whos terrified of heights, whos always been afraid of dying, has parachuted from an airplane. I dont know why she decided that conquering this fear will make her brave enough to face the coming days.

Lung cancer, the doctor said. Neither Nancy nor I have ever smoked. She attributed the coughing and chest pain to allergies. If only shed seen the doctor sooner. Six months at the most, he says. Shes devastated. We all are.

She wants to be brave for us. How will parachuting from a plane make you brave? I asked.

She shrugged. Its a start.

Everyone handles crises differently. This morning, while we ate breakfast, before the kids arrived, I had to know. I asked her if she planned to end it all by jumping from a plane.

Oh, Mike, I want to live more than anything. The end frightens me, but I want to be brave for you and the kids.

I ache with love for her. I pray, begging for a miracle. She says its not the end of our time together. Ill be waiting for you, Mike, my love. Help me be brave.

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This article has been read 299 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Goergen03/06/14
Sure had me guessing what it was she wanted to do! Heart touching story, well done!
Toni Hammer03/06/14
This was a heartwarming, suspenseful read. It made me think of my 73 year old mother who beat lung cancer 5 years ago. On her last vacation she went zip lining. :)

Thanks for the story.
Ellen Carr 03/09/14
I really enjoyed the suspense and emotion you sewed into this moving story. Well done.
C D Swanson 03/11/14
Awwww. Beautiful story, and well written...it pulled at my heart strings.


God bless~
Nancy Bucca03/12/14
Very interesting story and well told. A delight to read. Thanks for sharing.
C D Swanson 03/13/14
Congratulations Leola!
GOd bless~
Beth LaBuff 03/13/14
Oh wow! Great suspenseful writing. I loved the way you unfolded this love story. I could envision everything. Many congrats, Leola!
Linda Goergen03/13/14
Congratulations! Win so deserved!
Ellen Carr 03/13/14
Congratulations Leola! A well deserved 2nd place win!
Bonnie Bowden 03/13/14
You had me on the edge of my seat wondering what the MC was going to do. The love this couple displayed shown through the whole story.

Congratulations on your 2nd place EC award. I always enjoy reading your stories.
Sheldon Bass 03/19/14
Excellent. Never would have guessed it was parachuting. You timed the revelation just right. Congrats on a great EC!