Jason Lawrence Bell
Stories
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11-04-19

11-04-19                   PUSH ARROW TO BEGIN AUDIO

‘Stand near the statue. That should be a nice shot,’ directed the father to his two daughters. They were in New York on summer vacation and he wanted pictures of his girls having fun. It had been a year since their family tragedy and finally they could relax, enjoy a vacation and heal. The father could see the girls doing their best to find something to laugh about. After such a long time where happiness was never an option, finding their way back to normalcy was a strange, almost foreign endeavor. Hopefully, New York City with its fascinating streets and activities, would encourage them to enjoy their time in the big city.

It was over one year since the family buried the wife and mother, Debbie. She was very ill for many years. Her slow deterioration was a long agonizing hell for her family. Debbie was a natural mother who earned the deep love and respect of her girls and husband. They adored her and could not imagine a world without her. But after years of watching her suffer, they all eventually accepted that her passing was Debbie’s only means to painless peace. So, at Debbie’s direction, plans were made for a peaceful departure. The family gathered around Debbie and after long goodbyes, the drug was administered. Shortly after, Debbie slipped into a peaceful death. However, Debbie had more plans.

In fact, New York City was Debbie’s idea. She scheduled, after one year from her passing, pre-purchased tickets for First Class flights for her husband and daughters to visit New York for a week. Debbie also had left a box for each family member to open once they arrived in New York. When they checked into the hotel, they all sat on their beds hesitant to open the boxes. But they followed Debbie’s wishes and open their boxes. Inside were envelopes with days marked on them. One daughter found tickets for three for a carriage ride around Central Park. The other had evening tickets for three to The Comedy Store. The father simply had a camera marked ‘Monday and . .’

The family looked at each other and thought ‘Okay this is doable.’ They were also relieved there was nothing to remind them of their sadness. After the first day, they were back in their hotel room smiling about their wonderful day and checking out the photos Dad had taken.

The second day the envelopes brought boat rides to the Statue of Liberty, dinner at the best pizza joint and tickets to see a Broadway play. Debbie kept them so busy that they slept like babies at night. On the last day the boxes were nearly empty. They eagerly open their envelopes. The girls had the same pre-paid sales receipts with addresses and directions. They could not tell what was paid for, so they wanted to leave immediately to find out. They didn’t notice their father slipping his envelope in his jacket pocket. They all rushed to the address.

The girls were stunned by the store. It was a bridal bouquet with the most amazing looking bridal dresses. When the girls showed their receipts to the store manager, they were told that their future bridal gowns were already paid for and that when they were ready, they could select any dress. The girls were enthralled by the beautiful dresses and spent hours deciding their favorite. While the father reminded them that they don’t even have boyfriends yet. But the girls loved imagining their futures.

Back at the hotel the girls were laughing at the photographs of their week. One daughter spoke up, ‘this week was all planned by mom but she was in none of it.’ The other daughter replied, ‘it was like she was giving us a lot of wonderful memories without her.’ The other daughter finished, ‘I miss mom so much, but I’m ready for a normal life.’ They didn’t notice the father looking intently at his last envelope. Inside the envelope was a typed name and phone number. The father immediately recognized the name. It was the name of his high school sweetheart and contact info. The father just sat there in deep adoration of his Debbie. Peace**