The Last Month
“Josie?” her co-worker Caroline whispered beside her.
Josie rubbed her eye as she stared at the screen of the computer. She looked back at Caroline. “Sorry, I spaced out.”
“The meeting is about to start.”
“On my way.”
Josie finished sending the email to the insurance company. She couldn’t believe they were denying cover for Mr. Clarkson’s knee replacement after everything the poor man went through. What a bunch of greedy crooks.
Josie entered the meeting room of the Spring Valley Orthopedics and took a seat in the back. She already knew what they were going to discuss. It was all about productivity, time-management, customer support, blah blah blah.
Not that it didn’t matter to her — it had always mattered. But after last night’s “visit,” it was getting harder and harder to keep the focus.
Josie had an interesting “encounter” in her bedroom. She simply didn’t know what to call that anyway. She’d just left the bathroom after brushing her teeth when she saw the silhouette of a person by her daughter’s empty bed. At first, she was taken back at the sight but then drew a little closer. A beautiful and luminous woman — yes, that is the best word to describe her — was standing and staring at her. Josie’s heart skipped a beat.
The woman exuded beauty and kindness. She had big brown eyes and curly faded brown curls that felt all the way to her waistline. She was dressed in some sort of white robe that reminded Josie of old nightgowns. It seemed that she had been bathed in moonlight, and she was kind of shining.
“Josie,” the woman said softly. “It’s so good to know that you can see me.”
Josie’s mouth was wide open. “Who are — ”
“I have an important message for you,” the lady cut her off.
And that’s how Josie’s new “life” began.
In some sort of hypnotic state, Josie noticed she wasn’t afraid of the woman anymore and was drawn to her presence. She listened to her words. They were supposed to be very painful, but instead of suffering, she felt peace. And after what Josie considered a few minutes later, the woman vanished, leaving Josie’s to her thoughts.
Josie had just learned that she was dying very soon.
She had a few weeks left, a month at most. But she hadn’t been diagnosed with anything. It was pointless to search for help or do anything, according to her “luminous” friend. By the time doctors found out about Josie’s condition, it would have been too late.
She had been given a few weeks to reevaluate her priorities. To say goodbye to those who loved her. She had been given that time to “really live” — luminous lady’s exact words.
Dr. Andrews spoke about the new acquisitions, new surgical devices for his outpatient clinic while Josie’s world slowly fell apart in that meeting room. What could she do anyway?
She couldn’t tell anyone about that visit, or they’d think she had imagined, dreamed, or maybe had gone crazy. The word of advice from the luminous lady was to keep living her life as she could. She needed to work, cook, visit her mother. Her six-year-old daughter. She should do everything like nothing was happening — but at the same time, live like it’s her last day.
Why the hell was this happening to her?
She thought of quitting her job. Instantly. Why wouldn’t she? But what if she was indeed going insane and if it was all a product of her imagination? She needed to pay the rent next month in case she didn’t die. Sophia, her daughter, needed more money for her art classes. She couldn’t simply quit.
After work, Josie called her mother. It had been the hardest day in her life. She’d struggled to stay awake and sane at work while working with the claims department. She literally wanted to run off and cry on somebody’s shoulder — but again, she didn’t want to scare anyone in case she was just going crazy.
I’ll live one day at a time. Let’s see if I really die, she decided.
“Josie?” her mother said on the other line. “Everything alright?”
Of course, her mom had to ask that. Mothers do have the sixth sense.
“Yeah,” she replied, fading a bit. “Is that okay if I stay with you and Sophia this month? I’ve been missing you both a lot.”
It wasn’t an odd request, at least. Sophia was staying with her mother because Josie’s relationship with her ex, Sophia’s father, had become worse. He didn’t help Josie out while she was working. He wouldn’t pick up Sophia anymore. He forgot to feed her. He didn’t check her while she was in the kitchen. In short, he was an absentee father according to Josie. He’d rather spend his time getting high on his mother’s basement than being a parent.
Karen, Josie’s mother and a retired school counselor, offered to take Sophia right away. Josie had been working 50–60 hours shifts between her full-time job and her training job. It had been a painful decision but the best one for Josie’s little girl, who really needed full attention.
Karen must have noticed her daughter wasn’t well, but she didn’t question her motives.
“Honey, this is also your home. You’re welcome to stay here anytime. But you’re working until late anyway.”
“I told them I want to stop training reps this month. So I’ll work only from nine to five. Then I’ll come straight home.”
“Do you prefer me to drop off Sophia at your place at 5:30 then?”
“No,” Josie said, shaking her head. “I want to spend time with both of you.”
And this is how Josie’s life unfolded over the next few weeks, which ended up being the most meaningful ones for Josie.
She had learned to appreciate her mother’s remarks and even her snores late at night.
She had laughed harder at Sophia’s silly jokes.
She had learned to appreciate the sunset at the park, where she’d taken Sophia every day after work.
She smiled even when she got a paper cut at work. She was amazed at her skin, at how fragile it was.
She stopped being so annoyed at her coworkers. She felt sorry for them as she knew how hard their personal lives were.
She learned to eat again. She chewed her mother’s food with joy.
Her skin felt the touch of her daughter’s hand with a lot more intensity, and her body reacted with pure bliss.
She fell asleep every night holding Sophia close to her heart. She wondered if she’d see the luminous woman again when her time came. She believed she’d been an angel.
An angel had touched Josie and awakened her to a new life. A life that happens in the present moment. The past mattered no more to Josie. The future had absolutely no importance either. All that mattered was her daughter’s and her mother’s love.
And so she lived the next few weeks. Filled with infinite love and gratitude.
She could definitely say her life had been worthwhile if her time ever came.