Book Excerpt: A Dying Woman's Secret
Eliyana died softly in bed.
Her boots and other effects lay forgotten in a corner, behind a chair kicked away from a small table.
She’d been bedridden for months. It had been over a year since she’d covered her feet with more than the softest of moccasins. After her husband’s passing almost two years ago, her four sons anticipated that she would follow as soon as she could. They saw it daily when she’d sneak a glance skyward. No doubt she wished to be released from her body where once again she could hold hands with their faðir, Za’id. The only surprise was how long she’d stayed.
Now the moment of release arrived.
They stood at her bedside to the end, the elder two holding her hands while the younger two rubbed her arms and spoke soothing words. A wise man presided to ensure her spirit crossed comfortably. Otherwise, they were alone.
Why had she stayed so long? Knowing their móðir, some pressing matter known only to her had kept her with them. It was only moments before her passing that she indicated a desire to share what that was. Throughout their lives, she had kept secrets from her sons. That she chose to reveal her secrets in her final moments both frustrated and excited them.
In recent weeks as she’d lingered between this world and the next, they’d privately reflected on her life. For once they spoke freely amongst themselves about her. They shared their happiest moments and their deepest frustrations. They came to realize they had more in common than they’d once imagined.
After much deliberation, they concluded she’d kept these secrets not out of malice or deceit as once they’d considered. Many a day, when they had been boys, they’d been angry when she didn’t confide in them, but rather turned to a friend. She’d shared with another things which they desired to understand. Over the decades, this had vexed her sons and driven something of a wedge between them and her. They regretted it now and wondered how to reconcile their feelings. Nothing mattered but making peace before she passed.
Realistically, they reasoned, when they’d been younger she probably felt more comfortable sharing with peers. That theory had worn thin as they’d matured, driving the wedge deeper. She’d always been enigmatic and never what they’d considered a compassionate móðir. And yet, hadn’t she always been there when they’d needed her most? Of course she had! They held no regrets.
Now all that mattered was to assure her she had been the best móðir. It was not the time for regrets or grudges. It was a time of saying goodbye.
And still they reflected…
In the eyes of the people, their móðir had been something of a legend. With the old folk, she’d loomed large. Almost as large as the gods.
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