The Last Day

The Last Day

A Story by Thanh

 The Last Day
Nguyen Nhon Thanh
My thirteen year old grandson was sitting in our living room looking sad. He told me that his girlfriend, Helen, had just moved away. He started to tell me different things they used to do together and how he missed her.
While listening to my grandson talk about how much he missed his girlfriend, I also remembered the love of my life. As he told me about the fun times they had together, I couldn’t believe that at a young age he already understood what love is. That he understood what it is like to lose someone you love. Even though Helen had just moved to another state with her family, it felt to my grandson like he had lost someone he had loved his whole life. I understood what my grandson felt, because I had just lost the love of my life a few years back. Thuy, my wife, had lost her life to breast cancer. It has been three years since the last time I held her hand. She had died in my arms.
“Are you listening to me, Grandpa?”
“What?” I realized I had been daydreaming while my grandson had been talking.
“Are you listening to my story, Grandpa?”
“I am sorry. While I was listening to your story, I was daydreaming about your Grandmother.”
“Do you miss Grandma?”
“Yes, I still miss your Grandma a lot.” I put my head close to his and continued. “Like today, hearing you talking about Helen, just reminded me about my time with your Grandma."
“I’m sorry, Grandpa.”
“Don’t worry; sometimes it is good to think about the person you love.” I looked at him for few minutes then told him, “Follow me.”
“Where are we going, Grandpa?”
“Come with me please.”
“Yes, Grandpa.”
I walked my grandson into my office to show him my journal. I told him, “I have had the journal since the day your grandmother passed away.” While I was telling the story, my grandson started looking at the dairy.
“Wow Grandpa, you wrote everything you and Grandma used to do together.”
“Every time I miss your grandma, I open this journal, and read about different things we used to do.”
He starts speaking in his sad voice. “You wrote about Grandma’s last day?”
“Yes, I did.”
“If you don’t mind, can you tell me about that night?”
I was walking back and forth. Then I sat down in my favorite chair and said, “So what do you know about that night?”
“Well, I was not here that weekend; I was on a field trip with my classmates.” He closed the journal and moved his chair closer to me. He continued saying. “Father told me that you were with Grandma the last few hours, but he never told me anything about what happened.”
“I see.” I then told him, “Well, your father was right that I was with your grandmother the last few hours. I would never trade that experience. Here is the story.” I then opened up the journal and started reading:
It must have been around five o’clock in the evening, I walked into our bedroom and sat next to her and asked “Would you like to join me for dinner tonight?”
She held my hand tight and pulled me close to her, and gave me a big hug. She held me tight like there was no tomorrow.
“What is wrong?” I asked with a concern.
“What are you talking about?” she asked me.
“The hug, you hugged me tight. Usually, something is wrong when you hug me that tight.”
She gave me a quick laugh than told me “You know me well Honey!”
“After forty years, I better know when something is wrong with you.”
Both of us started laughing together. Then, slowly she told me. “Baby, you know that I don’t have a lot of time left here with you?”
“Thuy!! You know that I don’t like it when you talk about this.” I then held onto her hand and spoke, “Remember what we both agreed to after our wedding night?”
“Yes Honey, I still remember. We both agreed that when it is time to depart from this world, we would go together.” She then smiled at me and held my hand tight. Again, the way she held on to me indicated that there was something wrong. Then she continued, “Honey, look at me; the doctor said I have a few more days left to live. Now look at you; you are still as handsome as the day I married you. How can we die together?”
“You’re too kind my dear. You look as healthy as the day I married you. You are not going anywhere yet.”
“Thank you dear, but my body tells me different. You need to accept that.” Again, she held me tight in her arms.
“Speaking of our wedding day, do you still remember that day?” I was asking the question hoping that I would take her mind away from dying.
“Yes, Honey. I was so nervous walking down the aisle.”
“Really? I couldn’t tell”
“That’s good.” She began to smile.
“Do you know what I remember the most as you walked down the aisle?” I asked.
“What?”
“I remember how beautiful you were walking down that aisle. I couldn’t believe that you could be any more beautiful than any other day.”
“Thank you dear” She leaned over and kissed me, then said. “For me there are two things I remember about walking down the aisle. The first thing was not to trip, and the second was you; how handsome you were.”
“Thank you, I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember anything that our minister said that day. I was too nervous.” Both of us were laughing because Thuy felt the same way I did. I then asked her. “Do you know what I also remember when you walked down the aisle.”
“First of all, I were remember how beautiful and handsome our brides maid and groomsmen. When your music began to play, everyone was stood up and looked astonished at your beauty. I was standing proud, waiting for my bride to be there next to me.” After that I looked at her to see whether or not she was crying.
I bet you don’t remember where we first met?” She asked the question in a happy mood.
“At High School! Where else?” I answered her in a joking manner, knowing she would want me to be more specific.
“What room? You know my question.”
I was smiling at her and nodding my head. We were like two high school kids all over again just laughing and being silly. Then I answered her, “Sure I do. In the library. You were sitting with a couple of your girlfriends studying in the corner, and I was looking at some books for a book report. Right?”
“Yes you are right. I was sitting with the girls studying for a test that day, when I saw you.”
By this time, I had moved next to the bed sitting close to her. We were holding hands, like we used to when we were in high school.
“All these years I never asked what you thought about me that day. Was I handsome that day?”
“Oh… I don’t remember.”
“Don’t remember? You remember everything else about us! You forgot about that? I don’t believe you.”
She laughed for few minutes. “Ok, I’ll tell you the truth. I didn’t like you. You looked too nerdy that day.”
“Nerdy? What are you talking about?”
“Honey, at that time you were wearing a thick glasses and a weird hairdo.”
We both started laughing at that. I began to remember the good old times with her. I then continued asking her. “So what changed?”
“What?” she asked.
“What did I do to change your mind about me?”
“The more I got to know you, the more I saw how great a man you are.” She paused for a few minutes then continued. “What about you? Why did you like me?”
I laughed for awhile then told her, “At the beginning it was simply your beauty.”
She shook her head, “Men!” laughed and asked the next question. “Remember the first time I took you home to meet my parents?”
“How can I forget that day? I was so nervous that day.”
“You were nervous? I was the nervous one.” She said.
“Your father was mean to me that night.” I was shaking my head before I continued with the story. “If your mom hadn’t been there that day, he would have continued asking questions about my life before letting me in the house.”
“Honey, you know he’s not that mean”
“Not to you, but to me he was. He scared the heck out of me that night.” By this time both of us were laughing again.
“He was just over protective. He’s just like you Honey. Remember?”
“Who me? What are you talking about?”
“Yes you, Honey. Remember when Lisa, our daughter, had her first date?’
“Yes, I was a perfect father that night.”
“Really, as I remember you were standing there giving him a hard time.”
“I just had a friendly conversation with the boy.”
“Like my father that night.” Thuy said
“OK. I guess; every father acts the same way.” I thought for few minutes then continued. “Oh, what was the boy’s name? I forgot.”
Thuy was shaking her head before she continued. “Johnny, he is now your son in law.”
“Oh, OK.”
We were still laughing when she leaned over and put her head on my shoulder and said, “Thank you dear.”
“What did I do?”
“You have always been there when I needed you the most.”
“You have done the same for me.”
After the forty years we had been married, I still could not believe how beautiful she was. I must have looked at Thuy for a few minutes until I heard a voice. “What is wrong, Honey?”
“Nothing’s wrong, why are you asking?” I asked curiously.
“You were staring at me for a few minutes.”
“Oh, after forty years I’m still amazed at how beautiful you are.” I was shaking my head. “And most important of all, that you chose me as your husband.”
She smiled at me then said. “Don’t make fun of me Honey. How can I be beautiful? Since my chemotherapy I no longer have hair.” Thuy was laughing and said, “I should be the one to thank you.” She took a tissue and wiped a tear. “Honey, you know that I grew up in a broken family. You have given me a wonderful family like we have today. I never thought I would ever have a wonderful family.”
“Well, we did it together.” I moved my chair close to her and held her hand. I told her. “We worked together to become a great family. Remember when we just started our family? Neither one of us knew anything about raising a family.” We both were laughing.
I then walked her into the dining room for dinner. While I started eating, I saw Thuy’s eyes staring at me. “What is wrong Baby?”
“No, there’s nothing wrong I’m sorry, I just want to look at you.”
“Why?” I was asking.
“Baby, I just want to look at you. Honey, you know the doctor said my time is coming. Tonight might be the last night, or tomorrow, but I don’t know. I just want to remember how you look. When it’s time for God to call me home, I will remember your face.”
“Honey, I understood what the doctor told us about that, but that doesn’t mean that you will…” I was trying to say the word “die” but some how it didn’t come out, until she said. “Dying, Honey! You can say it. I have accepted it already.”
This is the first time we had talked about it since the doctor told us that Thuy would be dying soon. I realized it would happen soon. We had been married for forty years, and not once had we ever talked about dying until now. I could not even think about not having her on my side. Who will sit with me on the front porch to watch the sunset with me? Who will laugh at my jokes?
“Honey, please don’t be sad. It’s time for me to go; I will be waiting for you in heaven.”
“For the last three months, I didn’t want to think about this. Every morning I was hoping that the doctor would call me to let me know that you were healthy again.”
“My Dear, how sweet you know that is not going to happen.” She took a deep breath and continued, “Honey, do you remember the songs I Love Being in Love with You by Diana Ross, one of the songs that played at our wedding?
“Sure I do. Why?”
“If you remember, in the middle of the song it says:”
And I love to be with you
Living inside your heart
The giving and the taking
You are not forsaken
I love being in love with you
Thank you for choosing me
That we could be
Being in love forever
And ever, ever
“That is how I feel about you Baby,” she said after reading some lyrics of the song. She then looked at me and continued the conversation. “I am the lucky woman out there. I always love to be with you. For the last eight years of my life, you have taken care of me. Most importantly, you have given me three wonderful children. Each of our children has their own unique way about them. I can not imagine life without you. She leaned over and gave me a kiss. Then she asked me another question “Do you still remember that song?”
I proudly said, “How can I forget that song? That song was playing at our wedding.”
“Yes, that’s right. Can you still remember the lyrics of the song? Ah.” She was laughing.
“Baby I can do better than that. Not only do I still remember the lyrics but I can sing with you.” I walked over to our entertainment set and played the song and then we both sang together. Then we sang all the songs that we had loved throughout the years. This was the first time that both of us had a great time together since the cancer had affected Thuy. I hadn’t seen Thuy this happy for a long time.
I could see in Thuy’s eyes that she was tired but she would never want to call it a night. I told her that I was tired and that we should head back to the bedroom. Thuy and I were still talking about the good days, when she fell asleep in my arms.
In the early morning, I turned over to see how she was doing, but I realized that she was not breathing. I called 911 for help, and within a few minutes the ambulance was there. After a careful check, they declared Thuy was dead.
I then closed the journal and said. “That was my last night with your grandma.” I took a sip of a glass of water as I looked at my grandson. I could see there were a few tears in his eyes, and I put my hand on his head.
It took him a while before he looked at me and said, “How did you feel at that time?”
“I remembered what your grandmother always told me:
You may only be one person to the world
But you may also be the world to one person.
I had never really known where she got that statement from, but until she passed away, I did not really understand the statement. I had lost my world. I am now standing on an empty field feeling lost. I don’t know where to go.” Again I took a sip of water and then took a deep breath and continued. “Once your grandma passed away, I felt like my world was ended. There nothing left for me to live for.”
“Do you still feel the same way?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you still feel like your world has ended?”
I put my arm around my grandson then continue, “Yes and no.”
“What do you mean by that Grandpa?”
“You did not give me a chance to finish my answering. The reason why I answer “YES” is that the day that your grandma died is the day my world ended. I don’t feel that way now because of you and your parents, your Aunt Lisa and her family and Uncle Mike and his family. Also all of you surround me. I have learned to leave your grandma in my heart, and focus on all of you.”
“I see.”
“You know, the first year after your grandma was gone was tough for me. Wherever I went it reminded me of your grandmother. I still remember the first time I sat out on the porch watching the sunset without your grandma. It was not the same.”
“Is that why you moved in with us?”
“Yes, that’s right, everywhere I went around the city; whatever I did; it reminded me of your Grandma.”
“So has it helped you to move away from that place?”
“Yes, somewhat. The new environment has helped me? Plus having you and your parents here help also.”
“How?” my Grandkid asked.
“Well, I keep myself busy with you and your sister most of the time. That takes my mind away from your Grandma.”
“Thank you for allowing me to experience that moment with you Grandpa.”
I then smiled at my grandson, and I realized that I am a lucky man; How many people can say that they have lived such a full life? I was married to the same lady for over forty years; I have three lovely children and five wonderful grandkids.

 



© 2008 Thanh


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Reviews

You managed to keep the conversations flowing well. I really liked the one quote, "You may only be one person to the world but you may also be the world to one person." Very strong statement.
I liked the interaction between the characters. Is this a part of your life story?

There can be a bit of tightening up in a couple of places but over-all this is very well done.

Posted 15 Years Ago


You have such a writing talent and a style all your own. What a loss expressed so well in your story. I felt close by hearing their last night together, laughing and singing. Your words create more that a story--your writing is an emotional overflow.

Posted 15 Years Ago


It truely is a wonderful piece of literature. It brings back a lot of memories about my mom and I am glad that your story has brought those lost feelings back. May Thuy rest in peace. :)

Posted 15 Years Ago


An inspiring heartwrenching story. Beautiful. Almost brought me to tears reading this. Thank you for sharing.


Rayne

Posted 15 Years Ago


That was simply beautiful. I wonder how my grandmother recalls her last days, hours, minutes, and seconds with my grandfather. Thank you for sharing.

Posted 15 Years Ago


Now this is an inpsiring story...to have so much appreciation for the simple things in life is what LIFE is all about....you expressed this beautifully :)

Posted 15 Years Ago


Reading "The Last Day" brought back many memories of the time that my dad had his fatal heart attack and that final weekend of his life. How the little things play a huge role in our memories of the person, who past away. Thank you for sharing this very emotional short story with us. Are you planning to collect them together to be pubished? Hope so. They are worth it.

Therisa

Posted 15 Years Ago


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Lia
Beautiful sad piece. You have me in tears. Wonderful work. Thank you xx

Posted 15 Years Ago



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Added on February 21, 2008

Author

Thanh
Thanh

westmister, CA



About
These are some of fictional stories i had wrote in the last few years. I hope you like it. there are few minor errors in these stories. I need a feed back from you. These stories will be put together.. more..

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