A Gift of Love, страница 1
A GIFT OF LOVE
Copyright © J Grandison 2017
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system without the prior written permission of J. Grandison, except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events portrayed in this book either are from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, establishments, events, or location is purely coincidental and not intended by the author. Please do not take offense to the content, as it is FICTION.
1st Edition Published:
Published by J Grandison
Cover Design by: Wilde Design
Cover Model: NA
Editing by: KA Matthews
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This book is dedicated to my uncle Dale who died at the age of nineteen due to childhood Leukemia.
Table of Contents
About the Author
What is it about the winter season that’s so invigorating? The snow, the cold temperature? For me, it’s all of that. I love winter.
Looking out the big front window of the crappy, little greasy spoon, called Country Kitchen, that I work at as a short order cook, I take in my surroundings of the town I love. The diner is closed, and clean up was easy tonight since there is extra staff on due to the holiday season. I’m just waiting on the busboy, Joe, to finish the dishes so we can go home. I watch some kids slide on the ice that has formed in the street and the people walking by as they window shop. The snow is shimmering like a sea of diamonds under the street lights as more flakes slowly fall to earth. The little town I live in, Glorieville, Ohio, only has about 2,000 residents. So, everybody knows everybody.
I left here once upon a time...
Cindy Grove didn’t want to be a small-town housewife, knitting, baking pies, attending hometown sports events. No, she wanted the bright lights of the big city, so we moved to New York, Manhattan to be exact. The Grove family was well-off and well-known. Richard Grove, Cindy’s dad, was a very successful real-estate developer. Her mother, Ellen, was a homemaker. Sadly, Ellen was killed by a drunk driver while out of town visiting relatives. My mother, Teri, raised me by herself working in a bucket factory. My father walked out on her after she revealed to him she was pregnant.
Following his wife’s death, Richard decided to raise his only child in the small town.
Cindy and I were hometown sweethearts. You know, the whole star high school quarterback and the beautiful blonde head cheerleader. Yes, a small-town cliché. God, she was gorgeous. Her golden hair would shine like the heavens under the big lights on the field. When she was happy, her green eyes would brighten with such intensity that it was nearly like looking at the most exquisite of emeralds. I would stare in the mirror at my shaggy brown hair and dull, dark eyes, and think, how did I get someone as beautiful as Cindy?
Her dad set us up in this posh apartment and paid the rent for a year in order to give us time to find jobs. She wanted to be a Broadway star, and I was going to be a chef. But I gave up on my dream so that she could live hers.
She attended Columbia University majoring in Theater. I, on the other hand, had to work three part-time jobs to try and keep the bills paid. That meant nothing to me because I was with her.
On a whim, we registered for a marriage license and made it legal at a justice of the peace. It was the happiest time in my life. She was my everything. Then one day she came out of the bathroom with tears running down her cheeks, holding a white plastic stick. She was pregnant, and I was filled with more joy than I had ever felt. Cindy was filled with dread.
She had just been cast for a small part in a Broadway production.
“I can’t be pregnant now!” she screamed as she sat in the middle of the floor.
“Babe, you can, and you will be a great mom,” I said as I sat next to her pulling her into my arms.
“You can’t honestly think I am going to keep it?” Her head popped up, and her puffy eyes shone with more anger than I had ever seen.
“Why wouldn’t you?’ I was so confused as to where the sweet, beautiful girl who talked of having children and had even picked out names for each of three she just knew she would have.
“Creek Hollis, I have just begun to live my dream, and now you want me to throw it all away?” She looked me straight in the eyes, and I couldn’t see those emeralds anymore.
We talked, and she promised to think on it for a few days. About seven and a half months later, Lake Carter Hollis came into my life on Christmas day.
Cindy walked out two weeks later.
That was seven years ago.
She became a famous Broadway star who calls once or twice a month and sends gifts and cards for Christmas and birthdays. She never remarried and hasn’t had any more kids.
I moved back home when Lake was about two years old. I needed help, and the reason Cindy’s dad allowed me to stay in the apartment again was because he felt guilty about her walking away.
Now, I live in a small two-bedroom apartment attached to my mother’s house.
“Creek!” I hear my name shouted behind me. I was lost in my memories again. I look at Joe as he bundles himself up to go out on this cold winter night. “Do you need a ride home?” he asks as he points the key fob at his KIA to remotely start it and warm up.
“No. But thanks, man,” I respond as I pull my North Face coat on over my black hoodie.
“Creek, it’s freezing out there,” he says as I wrap my black scarf around my neck.
“I only have to walk six blocks. Plus, it gives me time to think.”
We walk out the door, and I lock it once we’re outside. Joe heads towards his car, already shivering, and I begin my trek. The wind has some whip to it as lashes my cheeks, but I don’t mind it. I enjoy the peace I get when I walk. I like looking at all the decorations people have put up in their yards or on their houses.
As I walk through the back door removing all my layers of warmth, I can hear the television. Mom is watching a re-run of In the Heat of the Night, one of her favorite shows. When I’ve stripped down to my work clothes, I head toward the sound of the old tv show.
“How is he?” I ask as I take a seat on the old, worn-down, brown couch that Mom made me bring up from the basement.
“No fever. A little drained but nothing too bad.” She begins packing her yar
“Thanks, Ma,” I call out as she closes the door that separates the two living spaces. I sit for a few minutes before checking in on my boy.
I see the dimmed light from his bedside lamp that lets me know he’s reading a book. Peeking through the two-inch crack between the door and its frame, Lake is laying on his belly reading a book.
I slowly open the door. “Hey, bud, whatcha reading?” I know it’s The Cat in the Hat because it’s his favorite.
“Hey, Dad. It’s my favorite,” he replies as he sits up, bringing the book with him, holding it up so I can see the cover.
“Well, it’s time for bed. We have quite a drive in the morning and a long afternoon,” I remind Lake as I pry the book out of his hand. “Did you brush your teeth?” He nods as I pick him up, hugging him tightly. His wiry arms wrap around my neck, and I just hold his frail, little body for a few minutes.
“Daddy, you’re squeezing my life out.” He tries to wiggle out of my embrace.
“You mean the life out of you?” We both giggle as I loosen my arms.
“That’s what I said!” he exclaims as I hold him with one arm, pulling his Spiderman blanket and matching flat sheet back.
“Okay, big guy, it’s sleep time.” I lower him to his bed. Just before I tuck him in, I tickle his belly. His laugh is infectious. It is always beautiful to hear. Kissing his forehead, I turn to leave.
“Dad, we forgot to say our prayers!” Lake exclaims. I stop, turning back to him as he slides out of bed to kneel beside it. I join him as we clasp our hands and bow our heads.
“Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you for giving me such a good Dad and nice Nana. She lets me have chocolate when I’m not feeling good. Please watch over them. Watch over Papa Richard and my mom. She is in Paris, so she needs some looking after. Help my dad find his true love. Help the doctors find a donor. Please make sure we safely make it to the hospital. Amen.”
My heart breaks every night as my boy asks for a donor. He says the same prayer for me to find a true love every night, as well. I behold my son who has been through so much, yet has so much love in his heart. I kiss his head again before he nestles back into his bed.
Before I walk away, I stand in the doorway looking at this beautiful boy who once had blond hair. He inherited my eyes. Except for the dullness, his always seem so much brighter.
I’m not sure how much time I have with him. Lake has C-ALL (Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). He was diagnosed at four years old. He started running a fever and falling asleep quite often. Mom thought it might have been the flu in the beginning. But after of few days, my son got worse. We found a huge lump under his armpit, and I knew in my heart there was something wrong. So, we rushed him to the nearest hospital about twenty minutes out of town.
After all the typical and routine tests were completed, the head pediatrician and a pediatric oncologist were called in, and they took us to a private room and broke the devastating news. I looked over at my mother who was sobbing in disbelief as I was broken hearted. They said it was in its pretty early stages and wanted to start chemotherapy as soon as possible. I felt like I was in some sort of alternate universe. They had Lake transferred to the children’s hospital about two and a half hours away. We were there for a long while, and I watched my rambunctious little guy turn into a mere shell of himself. His hair fell out; he couldn’t hold anything down. My soul shattered until the news came that his cancer was in remission, and he slowly began to return to my healthy little guy.
About two weeks ago, the day after Thanksgiving, my soul had been destroyed once again when another lump formed in his groin and one on his neck. We were informed the cancer was back and aggressive. He needs a bone marrow transplant; however, I am not a match—I had been tested the first go around. Neither were my mom or Mr. Grove. I have no clue if Cindy has been tested. She’s been out of the country for about a year now. I called when the cancer returned and had to leave a message. It’s been a few weeks, and I’ve heard nothing.
As the alarm begins to screech, I reach over to turn it off. I barely slept as all the what-ifs ran through my mind. What if they don’t find a donor? What if they do find one but his body rejects it?
I sit up in bed and run my hands over my face. My legs swing over the edge of the bed, hitting the frigid wood floor. I hurriedly look for my slippers that are lodged under the bed. Once the fuzzy warmth hits my feet, I make my way to the bathroom.
After starting the shower, I turn toward the mirror as I pull the white t-shirt I slept in over my head. The orange ribbon tattoo (the symbol for Leukemia) that sets just above my heart is still as bright as the day I got it—the day we got the news that Lake was in remission. I run my hand over the image as I close my eyes, trying to keep the tears that threaten to spill at bay. I have prayed…no…begged God to spare my little boy. He doesn’t deserve what he has been put through, nor what is yet to come. I stand there and pray for a donor. Lifting my head, I gaze at the now fogged mirror.
I pick out some clothes and get myself dressed. After brushing my teeth and combing my hair, I head to the kitchen to get some coffee brewing before waking up Lake. But when I turn into the doorway, I see my mom sitting at the tiny table that’s set-in front a small window.
“Good morning,” she says as she stands, grabbing a mug and pouring steamy hot, brown liquid into it.
She hands me the drink that warms my hands and settles back into looking out at the freshly fallen snow. She’s worried. Hopefully, today, we get some news that they found a donor.
We sit in silence for a brief moment before she stands as her best friend Lois knocks on my door. My mom begins to put on her coat as she walks towards the door. I follow behind.
“Hey, Creek,” Lois whispers as she pulls me into her arms. I soak in her embrace before kissing her cheek.
“Son, make sure you call me if there’s any news,” Mom says as she gives me a sorrowful look.
“I will,” I answer as they walk out the door.
Entering Lake’s room, I catch him sitting up reading. “Hey, bud, time to get dressed. Do you know what you want to wear?”
Lake gets out of bed, opens his closet, and pulls out his favorite blue sweats and sweatshirt. I search his dresser and retrieve a white t-shirt and some socks. Once he is fully clothed, I ask if he’d like some toast. He nods as he goes to brush his teeth.
When his toast is madee, I grab a bottle of water out of the refrigerator, placing them on the table. Lake sits in the seat his grandmother was occupying earlier so he can look at the snow.
“Hey, bud, I’m going to start the car to warm it up and brush it off.” He nods, his gaze not leaving the window.
I slip on my boots and exit the house, the cold air hitting me hard. I walk as fast as I can to the car, shivering as the chill runs through my jeans and blue flannel shirt. As I pull the door open, I hurriedly stick the key in, turning it over. Once the engine roars to life, I feel around the backseat until I connect with the cold plastic of the snow brush. While grabbing it, I notice Mom’s bright pink mittens sitting on the passenger seat and put them on. I slide out of the car and start removing all the snow from the windows. Hearing a tap on the kitchen’s window pane, I look up to see Lake laughing at the gloves I have on. I smile at him, collect some snow, forming it into a ball, and throw it at the window.
We pull up to the valet stand at Children’s Hospital; the circular fifteen-story building with reflective glass on the windows always has me wondering who cleans them, and how much do they get paid?
I jump out of the car, grabbing Lake’s blue Superman backpack filled with snacks, books, and medication as the valet walks up to the passenger side. He opens the door for my son. I prefer this type of parking; it makes it easier to maneuv
Once we make it inside the hospital, I begin to help Lake take his winter gear off. “Dad, look, Dave is here today!” He is super excited. Dave works at the security desk. When little guy was doing chemo a few years ago, they had become great friends. And, every year since then, a book and card come addressed to Lake from Dave. We send him cards, as well.
After I get my son’s coat and hat off, he runs straight to the security guard. “Hey, Dave!” he calls out and runs and jumps up to the big, burly man.
“Hey, Lake! How’s my little friend?” Dave inquires as he carries him back towards me.
“My cancer’s back.” Lake shows a sad face as he hugs tightly to his friend. I see a sullen look fall across Dave’s face.
“Hello, Creek,” the man says as he reaches his free hand out to me. I see the question in his eyes, and I just shake my head. He has worked at this hospital for many years; I’m sure he’s seen much heartache. He holds tight to Lake before he puts him back on his feet, then turns his back as I see his hand go up to his face, wiping what I assume are tears from his eyes.
“We got to go now, Dave. I will stop and see you before I leave,” Lake says as he grabs my hand, pulling me towards the elevators.
The elevator dings, letting us know we have made it to the ninth floor. Oncology. The doors open to a huge waiting room with brightly colored chairs. Ballerinas, cowboys, superhero pictures adorn the walls. When I begin to walk out of the elevator as Lake darts out in front of me yelling, “Papa Richard!” I walk over to where they are standing.
“Creek, good to see you,” Richard says holding his hand out to me. After we shake, I ask him why he is here. “Dr. Courtney called me and asked if I’d attend this morning’s appointment,” he replies as Lake hops in the seat next to him.