Christmas Hope

Nina sat down beside her sister’s sickbed and reached for her hand. “Susan called,” she said. “She’s in labor. They’re at the hospital.”

“Your first granddaughter.” Laura smiled. “On Christmas Day. Wish I could’ve seen her.”

“Of course you will!”

Laura’s eyes closed. “No. So tired.”

Tears stung Nina’s eyes. “Please stay.”

“Can’t. Sorry.”

“It shouldn’t be like this.”

Laura’s fingers twitched. “Is what it is.”

Nina smiled through her tears. “You’re so brave.”

“Not really.” There was a long pause. “Water?”

Nina helped Laura sip from the straw, then dried her chin.

Laura closed her eyes. “Tell them, name her Hope.”

“They were thinking of Laura.”

“Hope. For Christmas,” Laura whispered.

“I’ll tell them.”

Nina sat quietly until Laura’s breathing stopped. She thought of the child being born. This was what Christmas, the winter solstice, was really about, she reflected: acknowledgement that life ended, hope that it began again.

Copyright © 2014 Loretta Miles Tollefson

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