“Mama won’t you tell me what’s the matter?” Annie said as she tugged repeatedly on her mother’s sleeve that was now covered in snot and tears. “Mama, please stop crying.”
It had been two days since the man came to the house; two days of continuous tears. ‘She had a heart attack. She might be gone already. I might never get to say goodbye,’ Lizzy continued to pour over the news. How could she tell Annie, Annie who loved Miss Ann so much, and had been asking about her constantly? ‘How can I tell my baby girl that her friend has died or is dying?’ I wasn’t permitted to come to the hospital because I wasn’t family but I had been put as Miss Ann’s emergency contact.
The phone rang interrupting Annie. “Yes, hello,” I answer hoping the news was from the hospital. “I understand, thank you.” Searching for the words, “Annie,” I yelled but forgot she hadn’t left my side, “we have to go see Miss Ann. She is asking for us.”
“Yipee!! I gets to see my friend,” Annie’s little body trembled with excitement and scurried away to get ready.
“Annie, please come back. I need to tell you something about Miss Ann,” I said as Annie came to my side. ‘How do I tell her this?’ “Annie, Miss Ann is…”
Annie excitedly was staring up at her mama anticipating the good news, “Yes, mama!”
I began, but was not able to finish. Annie ran from me, up the stairs, into her room, and slammed the door behind her.
I tried to reason with her but she said, ‘NO!’
“Hello, we are her to see a Miss Ann,” I had convinced Annie to come with me. I told her it might be the last time.
“One moment please,” the nurse at the front desk said as she stepped away to an older man, the doctor, cross the room. They looked at me and started towards us.
“Miss or Mrs…?”
“Miss Elizabeth and my daughter Annie,” I replied back to the doctor who seemed confused.
“Can I talk to you privately, could my nurse take your daughter to the play area and get her a snack?” he said pointing to the area across from the room where a bunch of little kids were.
“Sure,” I said to the doctor, then squatting down to Annie’s level. “You are going to go with this young lady. She is going to take you to the area where the little kids get to play. It’s the special area where you can imagine you are anywhere but here. Please go with her,” pleading with Annie to not make a scene.
“Yes, Mama,” she said without any responsive emotion or warmth. She just followed the woman to the play area, sat in a chair, and started reading a book.
“What’s wrong doctor? Is Ann alright. Can I see her now?”
“I’m sorry mam but someone was supposed to call you again. Miss Ann died about twenty minutes ago. She had another heart attack and she was gone. Mam…”
I must have been fading away; his quizzical expression slowly blurred and was gone.
My eyes fluttered open and I was on a hospital bed with little Annie next to me reading. I hate hospital beds; it reminds me of the scandal.
“Mam, are you back with us?” the same doctor was beside me taking my pulse. “You gave me quite a scare when you began to topple over. Your little girl though jumped the playpen barricade, and was by your side rubbing your head trying to revive you. You’ve got quite a helper there.”
Little Annie’s eyes sparkled a quick second but she did not look up from her book.
“I am sorry I did not brace you for the bad news. And I am sorry I told your daughter as well. After you fell and she was holding you she began yelling at me, and demanding the reason. I am sorry but I don’t like to lie to little kids.”
I looked over at my baby and the sparkle of happiness was gone, only to leave a tear streaming down her face and dripping onto the binding of the book. She still did not look up. I scooped her up into my arms and placed her on the bed with me; she stopped reading and buried her head into my chest and wept. “What now doctor? What happens now?”
“Well since she does not have any other family contacts we wanted to leave her effects with you both. She brought everything with her when the hotel staff called it in.”
As he produced her luggage, the same luggage I made her gather up and take with her when I kicked her out. “Did she say anything when she was conscious?”
“She only kept mumbling, ‘I am sorry…I wish I hadn’t been a coward…I wanted you to be mine…I had hoped to call you both mine.’ “She kept saying those things when she would come back to us. She also said this before she left us,” he was going to start but indicated Annie’s presence.
“It’s fine. She deserves to know what her friend said before she went home to His house.”
He retrieved a note pad, “She was saying too much stuff to me not to write it down so I could tell you everything word for word. She said to me,” ‘Please promise me something. If a young woman and child come to see me and I am already gone, please tell them I am sorry for leaving a second time. I should have stayed and fought to keep the family I wanted. Tell the little girl she is the most beautiful and charming little girl that I am happy to call my best friend.”
Annie’s sobbing silenced as she was listening to the doctor’s words. She squeezed me a little tighter when he had said what Miss Ann said.
He continued, ‘and please tell Lizzy that I never wanted to leave in the beginning. I just was cowardly and didn’t think I would be able to see you in a different family that was not with me. Please give her the folder in my luggage after you tell her these things. Hopefully she will understand.” As he said this he handed me an accordion folder. “Please tell her I still love her just as I did the first day I had to counsel her. I enjoyed the time is spent with them both and I felt a part of a family. A make sure to emphasize to her, I do not blame her for kicking me out. I am just happy I got to explain myself once more to her before I was gone.” He chuckled after the last part.
“What’s so funny,” I asked confused why he would laugh at her words.
“Oh no mam, she also told me that if I did not do as she said and tell you these things that she would haunt me the rest of my life and ruin all encounters of love. She also said that if I did tell you everything exactly as she wanted she would be the cause of my next love encounter. She was a stubborn woman, but I do hope you understood everything I said,” he said making sure I did in fact get everything he had told me; he probably believed that Ann would haunt him.
“You did, but I would still beware. She has a funny way of coming back into your life one way or another,” I said to be funny but it was true.
He chuckled as well, glance at us again and left the room.
The folder sat in my lap. I could quite put my finger on why I knew this folder, like I had seen it once before. ‘Why?’
“What’s wrong mama, aren’t you going to open it? I wonder what it is.”
I wonder too; I just didn’t know if I wanted to know. But it was Miss Ann’s dying wish I opened this folder. So… I opened the flap and found…“Wait really!?!”
“What’s wrong mama?”
“Are you okay mam,” the doctor must have been outside the room.
“I don’t believe it. She wanted me. She wanted me that day I told her I was being adopted. She had come that day to adopt me.” I kept rambling off different phrases trying to understand it all.
“”Yippee Mama, you were always wanted by someone who you loved.”
“Congratulations mam, being adopted is one of the greatest feelings, believe me.”
“Wait there is a second page in here. She updated the papers. She officially adopted me the day after I invited her to stay. I had a mama, for those few short days. Annie, that means you had a grandma for those few days too.”
“Awesome sauce! My best friend and my grandma were the same people.” Annie looked all excited for a moment, but then remembering. “I am sad she is gone though.”
“She isn’t truly gone. She is always with us and if God allows her she might just haunt us through our days. You too doctor sir,” I said with a small chuckle trying to uplift the mood.
“Well since today should be a happy day, for you being adopted and you finding out you had a grandma, I am going to take you too beautiful ladies out for dinner,” the doctor said as he also tried to also lift the mood. “Let me get cleaned up and you,” pointing at Annie, “will decide where we go.” He left the room probably to clock out and finish the last minute things.
I sat there excited for the food, excited for the company, excited for Annie; but also, I felt excited and warmed for me. I had a mama. A mama who fought to keep me. A mama who loved me until the end. A mama who I will remember for forever.
…Epilogue to Continue…