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Advance Search

The Christmas Spirit


Published by: eXtasy Books

Author : Marc Jarrod

ISBN :978-1-4874-4015-2

Page :46

Word Count :5507

Publication Date :2023-12-22

Series : #

Heat Level :

Available Formats : The Christmas Spirit (prc) , The Christmas Spirit (pdf) , The Christmas Spirit (mobi) , The Christmas Spirit (epub)

Category : Contemporary Romance , Romance , Holiday , What's New

  • Product Code: 978-1-4874-4015-2


How can a man who lost his wife of 25 years keep her promise when he will never see her again?

You watched over me... now I will watch over you... even in death. It will be the last words his beloved wife, Betty Barnhart, had told her husband, Robert, before she took her last breath, dying in his arms.


Robert Barnhart had just lost his wife Betty from a long battle with cancer—15 days before Christmas. Twelve months earlier—January of that same year, they celebrated their 25th anniversary. Their children and their spouses along with friends, held a party for them on this hallmark occasion. The couple had even renewed their vows, asking the original priest to administer the ceremony... the richer for poorer, sickness and in health, etc.


Unfortunately, their renewed portion of their vows... the sickness and in health, part, would be tested to the limit because six months later, Betty received the devastating news of her cancer diagnosis.


On December 10, her last words were a promise to Robert that he will never, ever forget.


Little did Robert know how much she would keep her promise, even after her death... constantly giving her approval or disapproval on things he would do. Seeing these subtle and sometimes not so subtle signs told Robert that even in death, Betty would always be near him... watching over him.

“Sweetheart, what shall we get the kids and grandkids for Christmas?” Betty called out in a weak state from her bedroom. She was in a room, converted into a hospital setting that included an oxygen tank.


Robert entered the bedroom, strolled toward his wife, and, kneeling on one knee, grabbed her hand. “Honey, don’t worry about Christmas and getting presents for the kids and our grands.” He paused. “Besides, it is not even December yet. We just had Thanksgiving.”


Her eyes widened as Betty lifted her oxygen mask from her mouth and said, “No! We must get something for them. It’s important that we... get something...”


Betty’s voice was trailing off, and Robert understood why. Watching his beloved wife going through this horrendous treatment of chemo at the clinic made him angrier each day. The brutal liquid was not working and her physical state—sunken eyes, tremendous weight loss, constant pain, loss of hair—made such apparent.


His mind went back, tracing every step, every thought, every moment of that fateful day when his world was rocked.


Betty came home from the doctor’s appointment six months ago. She had noticed a lump on her right breast and had recently not been feeling well. Breathing became more difficult, even when getting the mail. She had hoped the lump was a non-cancerous node. The biopsy of the lump and the doctor’s assurance of results in the next few days seemed to take forever.


Robert recalled his intention to take the day off and go with her but an emergency meeting at the office decided otherwise. As president of a marketing firm, he was obligated to attend a client’s demanded last-minute meeting. Betty insisted he go to the meeting and that she would be fine. He reluctantly agreed, based on her hope that the lump was a node a surgeon could easily remove.


Three days later, her doctor told her to come to the office to discuss the results.


Robert knew it was a one o’clock appointment, but when he came home from work late in the evening, it surprised him she wasn’t home. When Betty returned home, Robert asked, “Where have you been?”


She said slowly, “I’m sorry... hun...” She closed her eyes and then opened them. “I had been... driving... around.”


“Why? You were at the doctor’s office to get the results so you should have been home... by... now... Oh. My. God” In a nanosecond, Robert grasped what Betty was trying to say. The look on her face told him the unthinkable.


In a broken voice, she said, “The lump is cancerous. My doctor sent me to the hospital for a CAT scan, followed by an MRI. The results showed it was not only cancerous but had metastasized to my lungs. He said aggressive treatment might only extend my time, maybe six to eight months.”


Robert was shocked and then burst into uncontrollable sobbing. Betty followed suit. They cried for what seemed like hours, simply holding each other tightly. Robert pulled back and looked into Betty’s tearful, glistening eyes, his jaw clenched.” We will beat this. You have the strength. I will be there every step of the way!”


To this day, he still felt sick with guilt because he hadn’t been there with her when the specialist broke the news to her.


The next few months, he stayed by her side as Betty went through the five stages of emotion when hearing devastating news. Shock, anger, denial, compromise, and finally, acceptance. After many months of treatments, with chemo not improving or decreasing the cancer growth, they came to the final stage of acceptance.


His thoughts returned to the present. Robert looked at his wife. Betty was looking at him, almost staring at him. It suddenly occurred to him why Betty wanted to shop for Christmas presents for their children and grandkids. He sensed she felt she may not be around for Christmas and it was important for her to make sure everybody received a gift.


Robert remembered the 6-8 months, if lucky. It has been six months since the diagnosis. His heart sank. In a choked voice, he said, “Okay, you tell me what we should get and I’ll make a list of presents and go shopping in the next few days.”




*




Betty passed away on December 10th... 15 days before Christmas. Her sudden seizure was followed by a heart attack, and her lungs were too weak to provide oxygen to her heart.


Robert called an ambulance. At the hospital, he said, “No invasive action.” He offered the document of a Prime Directive or a Living Will that he and Betty had signed with a lawyer several years ago. It verified that if either of them had an illness or injury that was not likely to improve, no medical personnel would make any attempts to keep them alive. The doctors stepped aside.


Robert held her, his smile soft and sad.


Betty forced a smile. “You... watched over... me all these... months, now... I will watch over you.” She tried to put both arms around his neck.


Robert supported her arms, making sure they rested on his shoulders. Seconds later, he saw her staring out into space as the heart machine flat-lined. She was gone.




*


Several days later—December 15th, after the funeral and burial, Robert’s children, Steven and Connie, came to visit. They helped him fill out bank statements and life insurance documents to cash in, among other forms that needed to be processed. Finished, they sat around the living room table and talked.


With only 10 days before Christmas, Steven and Connie simultaneously suggested, “You should have Christmas at this house.”


With a sigh and a headshake, Robert flatly refused. “Christmas is the last thing I want to celebrate...” Not without Betty.

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Tags: Romance, Contemporary, Holiday, Christmas