When they reached the aged willow tree at the corner of the senior’s section, Nurse Susan dutifully spread a soft blanket at the base of the weathered tree. She checked for spider-webs and wet patches in the selected spot. Once done, a plump, candy-striped pillow was propped up against the trunk and Margaret Edwison was settled into her favorite place. The nurse placed a plastic pendant in Margaret’s left hand. “Press the button if you need anything, I’ll be right there.” Her steps were loud and awkward as they clacked down the concrete walkway.
Margaret winced after the blurry figure, trying to focus on keeping her fingers uncurled enough, as not to press the precious emergency button.
I miss you Kmiri, I miss your footsteps.
It took some effort to tilt her face at the right angle to catch the rays of afternoon sun filtering through the weeping willow’s beautiful greenery. There was very little worth fussing for anymore.
The wind feathered through the swaying tresses and Margaret allowed her mind to drift away with the breeze. It skipped back in time to when she was younger and brimming with life. Returning to the years where her days as a teacher were filled with the sorrows and joys of the students that made her life worth living. As the high school art teacher, her class had always been the students’ favorite.
A tiny tear bubbled in the corner of her eye. Tears were harder to summon these days, as the wind snatched away whatever faint moisture eased the motion of blinking. A stuffy nose as an afterward effect was too much of a bother and too dangerous when she couldn’t lift a hand to blow away the stuffiness so she could breathe. High-heeled pumps daintily kissed the concrete walkway as family came to visit forgotten relatives. An empty sound, just like days without Kmiri.
Margaret sighed. Kmiri hated pulling genius from the cobwebs of her mind, she was the worst student. Every ounce of progress made with her, had cost a drop of life from Margaret. She’d poured everything she had into the most puzzling child she had ever known. Daily appointments with Kmiri eventually ended her social life, as encouraging the fragile creative spirit demanded every bit of her unassigned spare time. A solitary life was tolerable, for Kmiri’s way of repaying the kindness, was filling in gaps wherever she could. Her grades rose and she neatened her rebellious appearance.
Eventually, the truth surfaced of how Kmiri’s jobless mother left her in a hotel room and never returned. Margaret adopted her that day. Her chin trembled as she remembered the first, hesitant hug Kmiri had given her. It had made all the years worth it, a single trophy in her forty years of teaching. Another half-tear welled in her other eye as Margaret remembered the worn, battered Bible that Kmiri had brought with her.
It was Kmiri’s life and it had been enough.
Chimes sounded in the courtyard and aides began to file out of the assisted living facility to retrieve their charges. Familiar pressure between her eyes began, the warning of tears too stubborn to form as a lump welled within her throat. Yet another day in fifteen years since she had last heard Kmiri’s footsteps. Fifteen years since the paramedics had rescued her only to place her in a facility where she was nothing more than another white-robed patient.
If only I could speak…
The longing within added another slit to the bruises upon her heart. Her only ray of sunshine had failed to find her. Kmiri had left to find her life’s purpose and would never know of her stroke or sorrows. Still, Margaret could hear the footsteps of her dreams, in the form of a girl, Kmiri. Comforting steps of her silent daughter.
I gave her to you, Lord…but is it too much to ask you to share?
Feeling guilty for questioning His ways, Margaret thought she was dreaming when her old ears picked up the quiet crunch of gravel. The tremors in her chest sang loudly in hope, but she dared not tease her old heart with such things.
“Mama…” Kmiri’s voice was sweet as the spring rains, strong, loving hands grasped the pale, curled ones in her own. “Mama…” She whispered. “I came back…and I searched everywhere.” Soft lips kissed a wrinkled cheek, blessing the skin with two, fat tears. “I thought I’d never find you.”
My voice stirred. "Kmiri..."
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