The Angels Grew Lonely, Now I’m Lonely


Autumn Cooley, Writer

“My beautiful boy,” She cooed, rocking his fragile body in her arms. Her fingers grazed his drenched forehead as she analyzed his eyes—what was once wide and full of wonder, was now weak and dull—surrounded by dark circles. His breathing was little to none, taking profound gasps for air on occasion.

She tried preparing herself for this, but no ounce of preparation would allow a mother to develop a sense of contentment in a time such as this. She wanted her boy to experience the wonders of being a child. She wanted him to enjoy the excitement of playing outside with friends, drinking his first coke float, or seeing his first movie in the cinema. Night after night she prayed to God pleading for him to take her instead: Eighteen years had been long enough, therefore, give her child the long life he deserves. With her focus now on the ceiling though blurred due to tears in her eyes, the emotions became too overwhelming. She wanted to run. Runaway from everything and everyone. But that was selfish. She had more than herself to think about.

“Thelma?” a voice cracked, causing her emotional fight from within to halt. “Hm,” she answered, turning her attention to the right side of the bedroom. Her eyes were met with the desolate eyes of her husband of three years. He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. His stature was unusually slumped and his mind seemed to be reeling. “How is he?” He asked, his hands tucked in his pockets while leaning against the doorframe. Thelma shook her head, “Not good Jack.” With a nod of disappointment, he removed himself from her presence.

Jack had blamed himself for the entirety of the affair. His tunnel vision for his career caused him to lose focus on the only people that would be there for him through the thick and thicker. Due to the couple’s youth in marriage, Jack had not carried himself in his newfound marital status. His life still consisted of a regular teenage boy—hanging out at all times of the night, meeting up with friends, dating random girls—living as if he didn’t have anyone to come home to when the day meets night. For the last six months, Thelma had to take on the burden of caring for their sick child alone. Within that time, Jack lived in New York. His dream of a musical career had taken off a year prior, therefore, he made the difficult decision to move to New York permanently, only visiting Detroit when a small timeslot appeared.

As Jack sat on the brim of the bed of his shared room, his hands supporting his head and his knees supporting his elbows, his focus blankly rested upon the badge wall ahead. His mind wandered to the occasion of him receiving the worst phone call of his life. Jack’s first thought was to hurry back to Detroit, but as everything played out in his head, dread, anxiety, disbelief, and denial flooded his clarity, causing him to stay in New York. Thelma was vulnerable, her spirit was destroyed. The only person capable of comforting her would have been him, but he was too weak. His fear of seeing his son in a weakened state frightened him.

Now being forced to face reality, Jack had no choice but to look at the big picture—what was once a family of three, was soon to turn into a family of two any day now. Overwhelmed with regret and sorrow, his body began to shake as his uncontrollable sobs quietly left his mouth. Unbeknownst to him, Thelma had been watching Jack the whole time. The moment she saw him break down, she hurried to his rescue, wrapping her arms around his trembling body as he tightly clung to her, holding on for dear life. This was one of the reasons why Jack loved Thelma. For the longest, he had avoided her. He never wanted to accept the severity of their situation. But she never cared. She was always going to be right by his side whenever he needed her. She never passed any judgment or held any grudges. But he wondered, what will happen after all this is over. Will she leave him? The only reason for their marriage was their son. Will Thelma be so fed up with his shenanigans to where she gives up on him? That was his biggest fear.

Moments later Jack managed to calm down, though he continued to silently shed tears. His head rested upon Thelma’s lap as she softly stroked his hair. “You need to go see him, Jack,” Thelma spoke lightly. “I—I can’t,” he stuttered, shaking his head no in the process. “You don’t want to regret not being there when you had the chance.” Jack sat up to face Thelma, his eyes were red and puffy, and his hands were still wobbly. Their eye contact soon disconnected on his behalf, “I’m scared, T.” He admitted, “I’m so scared.” Thelma placed the tips of her fingers on his chin to reconnect their eyes, “I know. I am too. But Christopher’s probably more terrified than you and I combined. He needs you, okay? So be there.” Jack signed, nodding in understanding. As he stood up, making his way towards his son’s bedroom, he turned to Thelma, leaving a tender kiss upon her forehead. “I love you,” he remarked finally before departing.

Step by step Jack became winded. With each footstep came a deeper gasp for air from the pit of his stomach. Eventually, he made it to the room, but as he attempted to walk in, his body wouldn’t allow him to do so. He stood there, lost for words, air, and emotions. Jack didn’t know how to feel. He tried everything in his power to avoid this moment, but deep down knew he was going to have to face it sooner or later. “You can do it,” He heard from no one else but Thelma as she rubbed his back. He had no clue she had been behind him the whole time, but what else would he expect from a woman such as herself. Taking a deep breath, Jack made his way to his son, taking a seat at the foot of his bed.

For a few seconds, he took it all in. The look on his only child’s face sent shivers down his spine. “Hey Sonny,” Jack greeted Christopher with a smile. Though he couldn’t speak, you could tell by the look in his eyes that seeing his dad made his day. Though his eyes were still dim and dark, there was a slight twinkle within them. Christopher reached out his hands signifying his want for his father. The only place he ever wanted to be was in his dad’s arms. Jack swiftly moved from the foot of the bed and picked Chris up, settling in the rocking chair in the left corner of his room. Jack, with his hands shaking and the urge for holding back tears, rocked Chris in his arms. “I’m so sorry I haven’t been here like I should have. I know you would think differently, but daddy was scared. Scared of losing you, scared of losing your mom, scared of losing my sanity…just scared of everything.” He looked down to see his son’s eyes fighting to stay open. “I want you to know that I love you. I love you more than anything. More than anyone. I don’t think there is any way possible of showing you how much you mean to me. Did you know whenever I have a bad day, which is quite often, I would find my picture of you and your mom and it would keep me calm? You were sent from heaven, you know that?”

Jack held his son’s tiny body tight as he stayed quiet, enjoying the sound of their hearts beating in sync. But as enjoyable as it was, he couldn’t bear the thought of his baby suffering. “Listen, it’s okay to let go. I know you’re tired because I’m tired too. Just know that I will be holding you the entire way.” Stopping for a breath, he looks over to Thelma to see her leaning her head against the doorframe drenched in tears, causing the tears he held back to make their way to the surface. “Just promise me one thing Sonny,” He began, turning his attention to his lifeless son, “Promise me you’ll look after us. It’s going to be a rough road living without you. So promise you will be there, and if not for me, be there for your mom. She’s not busy like me, meaning she’ll have more time to think about you—” Jack stopped suddenly, with the intent of composing himself to say something else. But before he could speak another word, he felt Christopher’s tiny, feeble hand faintly caress his arm, signifying that everything was going to be okay. “I love you, Chris. And mommy loves you too,” was the last thing Jack whispered before he watched as his son’s body give out. And like clockwork, Jack’s heart left with Christopher’s sole.