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Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

Again, Stephanie of BeKindRewrite InMonIX  has gone above and beyond with her inspiring prompts. Thank you for giving us so much of your valuable time!

In a Better Place

Sarah looked at her gifts spread across the living room sofa and smiled. Her retirement party was the best one she had ever attended: co-workers, friends, her son J.J. along with his wife and their two boys, and, of course, Paul, her husband. She always teased and called him her gift in old age. She had met him six years ago. It had been the night of her big Six-O. She had a flat tire on busy Route One on her way home from dinner with friends. He had stopped to help out, and, well, the rest was history.

Just then, Paul walked in, kissed her forehead and gave her an intimate pat on her behind. Life is good, she thought as she lovingly brushed his gray thinning hair with her hand.

“Will we be having steak for dinner?” Paul asked after kissing her cheek.

“Hmmm, my retirement isn’t only at the office, is it?” Sarah’s eyes crinkled as she teased.

“Let me get the grill started, m’ lady!” he said, and, laughing, off he went past the sunroom to the outside deck.

A reflection of light in the large picture window caught Sarah’s eye. She turned and looked at all the framed memories of her life on that long windowsill shelf. She walked over to them thinking she may not want to go there today. Her heart always panged at seeing them. She knew she would go there, though, because they were part of her. She picked up a photo and wondered how it would have felt to have them at her retirement party, too.

She rubbed the outer frame gently, longingly, and then slowly brought the picture up to her lips, kissing the glass. Her twin baby girls, golden hair, blue eyes, large striking beautiful blue eyes, and cheeks that she would have liked to cuddle and lightly pinch all day long. Sarah closed her eyes and remembered.

Her thirties had not been good to her. Three deep hurts she had survived in that decade, huge losses that left her struggling and bleeding until scar tissue could toughen her damaged heart. Sometimes she even wondered how she had been able to survive those years.

The horrible crash from her hydroplaning car during that rain storm had taken them, her two year old babies. She and four year old J.J. had been unhurt. She never could understand it. Why them and why not her?  They were just starting life. She had been living for thirty four years. They should have been able to stay. She would have gladly given up everything for them: her happiness, her breath, her life.  I survived when I didn’t want to, she thought.

Two years later, in that nasty decade, while she was still reeling from missing her babies, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. How could she leave behind J.J. and her husband, Jacob? She had fought so hard: mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and then reconstructive surgery. She had made it. Again, survival!  The scars were there, though: scars from fear, fear of reoccurrence, fear of death. Even though her new breasts hadn’t shown that fear and looked normal, whatever normal is, fear was there, everywhere.  Funny how some things can look so normal even though deep inside the feeling surrounding them is anything but that.

It had all been too much for Jacob. He couldn’t deal with it anymore. It overwhelmed him, losing his girls and then almost losing his wife. He walked out. Just like that, he was gone from their lives. He left Jacob, Junior with her. Her precious J.J.  She had cried and cursed and screamed and talked with God, begging him for mercy, begging him to intervene, begging for Jacob back. It never happened. And she had survived, with the scarring on her heart even thicker and the vulnerable part of her hidden to everyone through her forties and fifties.

The front screen door opens and young voices and footsteps can be heard laughing and running in the hall. With a start, Sarah comes back to her world of today, her sixth decade. She gently puts her framed picture back in its place, moving it slightly to the right so it can be seen well by all. With her head high and contentment in her eyes she walks out of the living room, ever so slightly glancing back at the shelf of her framed memories, when life was about hurt and loss.

J.J. hugs his mother while her grandsons beg her to go out and play a game with them. At a distance she can see Paul working his magic on the grill, whistling one of his old songs.

Sarah smiles thinking of the time she will be able to spend with her family in her retirement. She quickly glimpses in short kodachrome frames all the decades of her life, slowing a bit at the thirties. With her eyes looking forward she knows she is in a better place.

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