FOUND: Found By Anne Nassar

Week 4 Word: FOUND
Word Count 435
Anne Nassar
Going through her mother’s papers, Allie found a letter from a doctor’s office. It said that her mother was scheduled for a distal pancreatectomy.
Allie was stunned. Her mother had known she was dying.
Allie’s stepdad, Dave, was sitting in the kitchen. He had a pen in his hand, and he was supposed to be writing thank you notes to the people who had donated money to the cancer society in his wife’s name. But he was staring into space.
Did you know that mom had cancer? Allie asked him.
He shook his head.
She knew, Allie said.
She handed him the letter.
He asked, this…distal…is this a test or what?
It’s surgery. If she’d had it, she might be alive.
He was silent. Finally he said, We were in Maine that week. We went to the Lobster Festival. She acted normal the whole time.
He blinked rapidly, trying to keep the tears back.
Why would she keep it a secret? he asked Allie.
I don’t know, Allie said, she probably wanted to just enjoy the time she had left. You went on all those trips, all those places she always wanted to go.
When we were traveling, she seemed really happy, happier than she’d ever been, he said, looking to Allie for confirmation.
She was, Allie said, You made her happy.
Then how could she choose to leave me? Why didn’t she fight it?
I don’t know, Allie said, I just don’t know.
Dave covered his eyes with his hands. The tears were running down his cheeks.
Allie went to the bathroom and got a box of Kleenex for him. He pulled out a tissue and blew his nose, loudly.
She said, you know, my grandmother died of cancer. It took years. She suffered terribly. By the time she died, I couldn’t remember what she was like before she got sick. It had been months since she spoke. All she did was moan and cry. I remember mom saying that she wished she had the nerve to put a whole bunch of pills in grandma’s mouth. I think she just didn’t want that kind of death for herself.
Dave said, I would have understood.
Allie nodded and said, yeah, but if you knew, you would have been miserable and you wouldn’t have wanted to travel.
Dave said, I wish she would’ve left me a letter or something.
Allie said, me too.
Watching Dave fight to suppress his sobs, Allie decided to smuggle out the envelope full of old photographs that her mother had kept in her unmentionables drawer. The pictures were of Allie’s father.

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