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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Heroes (03/08/04)

TITLE: Helping Benny to Die
By Lynne Cox
03/12/04

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One thing that she hadnít told her husband yet, was that she herself was having physical troubles. She could hardly breathe. So each trip and up down the stairs to wait on Benny made her heart knock as her lungs strained for air. But it was Benny who was dying of cancer, and Benny needed her. A lot. He needed fresh water and lotion on his dry flaky skin and morphine every four hours.

Thelma was tired. She got to lie down for a little while when the hospice people came, but that was all. She spent most of every day and night caring for Benny. One night he was up all night with a terrible cough that went on for hours. He sounded like he was choking up his lungs. They clung together in the bed, afraid the time had finally come. They said their goodbyes. But the time was not yet.

Towards the end, the pain made Benny nasty. One time when she dropped his water glass and it broke, he accused her of being dumber that Dilbert, their dog. Another time he told her that he wished he had had an affair, that he was sure the Lord would have forgiven him for it. That brought Thelma down on her knees, head in hands, weeping with the pain of it.

Still, she loved. She fluffed his pillow and prayed with him as he begged God to take him home. She combed his few strands of hair. She read the sports scores to him. She brushed his teeth when he complained of a rotten taste in his mouth. She cut his thick curved toenails.

But she was finding it harder and harder to walk any distance. Stairs made her gasp. Leaning over to pick something up off the floor in Bennyís bedroom made her dizzy. She had to sit down a lot.

Thankfully, Benny didnít notice, and one night he was lying with his arms hung over the sides of the bed, when suddenly he coughed and jerked them up to his chest and was gone.


Member Comments
Member Date
Leticia Caroccio03/16/04
What a sad article. What happened to Thelma?
Was she with Benny when he died?
Lynne Cox03/16/04
Well, Leticia, right off the bat I see where I made a mistake - not showing Thelma there with Benny at the end. Thanks for noticing that.
Jan Grupido03/16/04
I HATE it when someone, usually at work, says to me "You know what you're problem is? You're too nice!" Actually had my brother tell me that! (He works for me)...but this piece absolutely shows my inspiration for turning the other cheek and praying to hold my tongue until I can speak the truth in love. I look for His reward and apparently so does Thelma. What the world cannot understand, "you shall be known by your love one for another!" Quick, read that grabbed my attention right away! Thank you!
Dave Wagner03/18/04
It's pretty incredible that you reached such depths with such a short piece. This is well crafted, even though perhaps another paragraph to continue a bit of the after-death wrestling might have rounded out the piece a bit better. Sounds like Thelma was about to follow after her husband!

Either way, well done. Strong.