Ever Ready

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(prompt: 'ready' 16/8/2019)

"When the time comes, I'll be ready," she had often said, voicing one of her deepest philosophies. Throughout her life Emma had perfected the art of carefully examining the worst likely outcome of any situation facing her. Not pessimistically. Not hopelessly. And never, ever, negatively in any way. Emma viewed this attitude as a necessary step on the path of honest acceptance of whatever Life dealt her.

Her reasoning never wavered that having faced the worst and stared down its horrors; made a rough plan of action for the unthinkable; then pushed it all back into a deep, dark corner of her mind, she could finally allow herself what she chose to call 'grace under fire'. The deepest and most heartfelt sigh would begin her journey back to a place of calm, as though shrugging off the weight of the world (she often found herself recalling an ancient picture of the god Atlas with a great celestial sphere weighing heavily on the back of his neck. And found herself greatly encouraged.) Experience taught her a brave lift of her chin, and sitting or standing as tall as she could manage whilst reclaiming an even rate of breathing would restore her equilibrium to a manageable degree.

It had all worked SO well... until now. As she looked at the beloved face and fragile frame of her life-giver of so many years ago, her best-made plans fell by the wayside. Especially when her mother whispered, "I'm dying, aren't I?"

Pain stabbed through Emma's heart as if she was the one lying helplessly and hopelessly in the hospital bed. As if her heart was truly breaking into glass-like shards. The bizarre, random thought crossed her mind once again - but it's just a muscle. How can emotion take it in an iron grip like this? And immediately on the heels of that thought - maybe I'm having a heart attack! Maybe I'm going to die, right alongside her? A weird inner jerking crawled up her spine. Just like Mum described feeling when Dad was SO late and the shock of seeing and hearing his workmates at her door with their terrible news threatened her consciousness. Wonder if she had this deafening thumping in the ears and pounding pain through the head, too?

Then the tears flowed. Again. Just when it seemed there couldn't possibly be any more left, they came in a great rush. And along with exhaustion, brought their own kind of relief... and finally, after the longest time, a strange peace. And in that saddest yet sweetest of waiting times as Emma held her mother in her arms, it was as if their souls flew together for a time, remembering... and smiling.

And Emma discovered there were some Life happenings... and endings, you could never be ready for.

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