Mom’s Last Promise

She’d wanted to meet her newborn grandson so badly. If only…

by - Posted on Apr 22, 2015

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I stared up at the ceiling from my rock-hard bed in the hospital maternity ward. Two hours earlier, I’d given birth to Markeise, my beautiful baby boy. I should’ve felt elated. And yet, something—someone—was missing. Minnie, my mom.

 
     Lachesha and Minnie
 

For as long as I could remember, I’d called her by her first name. Minnie had me when she was only a teen, and we were close enough in age that we acted more like best friends than mother and daughter—“thick as thieves,” my grandmother often said. Even after I got married, we talked on the phone every day, went shoe shopping on the weekends, cracked up over the same jokes.

Minnie was diagnosed with uterine cancer during my first trimester. “Don’t you worry, darling,” she said. “I’ll be there for the baby’s birth. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. I promise.”

I believed her. Minnie loved being a grandmother more than anything else. She’d been at the hospital when my first two children were born, snapping photos and making a fuss. When I gave birth to my daughter, she’d hollered, “It’s a girl! It’s a girl!” in the waiting room until one of the nurses asked her to quiet down.

I thought we told each other everything. But Minnie never let on how serious her cancer was—she didn’t want to worry me so early on in my pregnancy. She started chemo too late. Within three months, she was gone.

I stopped staring at the ceiling and pulled out Minnie’s photo from my overnight bag. I positioned it by my bed, hoping to feel her presence. But I didn’t. She’d never meet her grandson. Never stare into his big, brown eyes, so much like her own.

A nurse walked into my room. “How are you doing?” she said.  

I wiped my eyes and forced a smile. “Just hormones.”

The nurse shuffled over to the dry erase board opposite my bed and pulled a marker from her pocket. She scribbled the name of the on-call doctor, the one who would be taking care of Markeise until we were ready to go home.

Only after she left did I notice what she’d written, in all capital letters.

MINNIE.

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