She was in pain.
The intense throbbing continued in spite of the medication and the prolonged and painful therapy she had undergone for over a year now. She adjusted her pillows to help support her broad shoulders. Her grandchildren burst into a simultaneous cackle of loud laughter and her pain was forgotten for a while. She smiled at them, participating, though not knowing what the joke was. They didn’t need to feel her pain. It was enough, that she felt it.
She joined in the revelry and the fun and teasing moved from one cousin to another. All her grandchildren were there – from eager five-year olds to twenty-three-year old near adults. And a joke was a joke whether or not the five year old understood the nuances of the eighteen-year old’s word-play. Laughter, just good old laughter had such power to communicate. Laughter and love bound people well.
Each time she laughed she had a shooting pain in her chest. Her eyes swelled with tears, she had no idea if it was because of the pain. The younger ones rallied around her, hugged her tight every once in a while, as if to remind her of the pain. She didn’t shrug off a single hug.
As she was lying down watching the revelry, she wondered if this was the best time to let go.
Would I carry this image of my family where I’d go? Would I be able to show this image to him? Am I being greedy for happiness, prolonging a weak and painful life for pleasure? Then again, what was the real pain. Was it just the strain across her left breast or the pain of not being able to see and play with more of her great-grandchildren.
The eldest came near her, and quietly asked, “Is it paining again?”
“No”, she smiled back, lovingly ruffling his hair, “I am fine.”