”What do you mean, sweetheart? ” She questioned with growing concern. ”How could you- ”
”Because hes dead, mom. He passed away five years ago…. ” I answered with all my remaining strength.
I imagined the sound of shattering glass as her expression froze, stunned. I had just ruined her plan to have her family back together again. But it was better than just letting her go on thinking she could do something that she could not.
Seconds droned on before she finally spoke. ”H-h-how… ” Was all she managed to say.
”Cancer… It was- it was hard, for a long time. But when he passed, the hospice agency let him go in your room. So in a way, we were all together when it happened… ” I stated, my confidence waning more and more by the second.
Her hands rose to her mouth as she struggled to speak, her mouth agape and her eyes filling with water as they threatened to burst like a dam. I pulled her back into me and said something I never imagined I would get to say, not in a thousand years.
”He wanted me to say… To tell you… If you ever woke up- that is. That he didn regret anything. That he would do it all again if he could. ”
She cried then. Loud and wailing, it was the sort of cry that I supposed a person only gave when they were truly and sincerely broken. When something hurt so completely and fully that their brain just shuts down, unable to process the grief.
Hours passed as I just held my mother, her weeping, sobbing, and incoherent words finally rambling off until she fell asleep in my arms, then I followed close behind, my own fatigue catching up quickly.
I awoke in the morning alone. Or rather, my mother no longer slept beside me. Instead I found a large woolen blanket wrapped lovingly around me. The campfire was dead now, its embers long since turned to ashes, the soot dusting up into the air along with the breeze.
Sitting up I looked around to find my mothers sleeping bag wrapped up tidily, but still sitting in the grass. Across from that was Iros, he was just finishing wrapping up his own bag and depositing it into a large leather backpack.
He immediately noticed my gaze and wordlessly nodded to something behind me. Turning around, I saw my mother, standing some hundred or so yards away. Harsh winds licked at her clothes, making her silhouette seem much larger and imposing than it was normally. It seemed like the cover of a grand book, the way her hair flung out sideways, and the tails of her tunic wafted and waved under her armor, a single massive stone slab just before her and a large forested mountain beyond that…
I could somewhat imagine the grief she was feeling… If only just barely. Id had to deal with the grief of losing my dad, leaving me to take care of my mother and all of her medical bills alone… Not to mention the left over debt from his treatment.
But how could that compare? She had been here, having adventures, making friends… I shook the thoughts from my head, this was her grief to face. Id already faced mine….
Rising up from the ground, I tugged the blanket closer as the cold winds struggled to steal my precious heat. I approached her from behind, trying to be quiet. the closer I got, the more I was able to see this stone slab. And what it really was.
In Loving Memory
Loving husband and father
You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.
Cut into the large headstone were two massive swords, which slid into the rock like butter. While I could not see the blades themselves, the handles were beautiful and crafted masterfully. The first crisscrossed sword hilt, which was blue and gold with intricate and robust engravings of thorns encasing it, while the second was orange and black, with delicate ,almost feminine roses and petals dancing about its guard.
”I had these made for us… Randy, you know, he always thought swords were so cool… So, when I finished getting all the summoning reagents… I figured he would love it if we had a pair that were crafted from the same ore. It seems so silly now…. ” Her voice quivered heavily as she spoke.
”Yeah. He would have loved it. Probably would have made some lame superhero pose and made a comment like y the power of greyskull! ” We both chuckled then, and she exhaled a long and exhaustive breath.
”He wouldn want me to be sad… Not for long anyway… So lets get out of here. ” She said simply as she turned on her heels and walked back to camp, leaving me to stare at the headstone she had made for him.
Walking forward I placed a fist on the stone. ”Don worry, pops. I told her, and Ill take it from here, so just make sure you are watching, because we are going to take this world for everything its got! ”
With that, I turned and followed my mom back to camp, knowing I meant every word of it. I was going to bet big, and bet often! No one got a second chance like this… Today was the start of the rest of my life!
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