“This story must be on my desk by 4:00pm today!” yelled Mr Hargrove, my easily aggravated boss.
“Absolutely sir, I won’t let you down,” I replied. I needed this story to do well. Mr Hargrove explained to me a week ago that if I did well on this piece, I would be promoted to editor of political journalism. This was the key to my dream job! If this story flopped, I didn’t know if I would ever get a chance like this again. I sat at my desk, let out a breath of air and open up my laptop.
Brrr brrrrrr …..My phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled out my phone, it was Mum. Mum was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer a few months ago. She’s been doing well, but her incessant phone calls have been nothing but a distraction.
“Yes mum?” I queried into the phone.
“Oh my dear, how are you going?” she replied back with a tone of softness.
“I’m a bit stressed out at the moment mum, I have quite a big story to write before the end of the day, you know, the one about Labor’s win at the election?” I replied hurriedly.
“Wow, how exciting, my son the big writer!” Mum exclaimed with glee.
“Yes mum, I know, I know, I really have to get this done,” I explained with haste.
“Oh ok, I was just wondering if you wanted to come see me some time soon, Iâ€¦ I,” Mum’s voice trailed off.
“Mum are you ok!?” I worriedly sprayed down the phone.
“Oh, oh yes dear, I just lost my train of thought, I really would like to see you,” said Mum, voice sounding croaky.
“Uh, well, I do have this big story Mum,” I replied.
“Oh, ok sonâ€¦” replied Mum, the softness of her voice trailing away with despondency.
“Listen, I think I could pop over to the suburbs for ten minutes on my lunch break,” I decided.
“Oh yes, that will be wonderful! I will get some tea ready,” said Mum, as excitedly as she could these days.
No matter what diagnosis Mum has been thrown throughout her life, her spirits have never hindered. I was only young the first time she got cancer and all I can remember was the determination to beat the disease and the joy surrounding her golden smile in the hospital.
“I’ll see you there Mum,” I replied, hanging up the phone. I had to stop these distractions, this story was going to be the feature for the ABC website, it had to be perfect.
A few hours passed and suddenly it was my lunch break. I don’t know how but I still had such a long way to go. The ever-marching presence of time was a looming reminder of the weight I had building on this story. Mum sounded so excited on the phone, so I knew I had to go see her. I hopped in my car and began to drive out of the city to Mum’s little home in the suburbs. The entire drive was a painful anxiety-filled trip of thoughts.
“My entire reputation leans on this one story.”
“What will you possibly do if this fails?”
“I should have just stayed at the office for my lunch break to make the story perfect.”
As my car rolled up my mother’s tiny driveway, I noticed she was sitting on the verandah waiting for me. That joyous golden smile appeared across her face as I got out of the car. I traversed the steps towards her and we embraced. Her frail old body was just a reminder of the terminal monster slowly killing her, but as it seems, nothing could kill her joy.
“Come on inside, the tea is getting cold,” Mum said as she slowly led me into the house. We took a seat at the dining room table and began to sip the tea. “So, how is that big story coming along?”
“Oh you know, it’s definitely getting there, I only have a short bit of time before I should be getting back,” I answered her with an anxious tone.
“My boy, I can see you are stressed, have some more tea, it will make you feel ten times better,” she assured, almost as if she believed tea was the remedy to all ailments.
“I’m all good Mum, besides I really should be getting back,” I exclaimed hurriedly.
“Oh, no matter, drink some more tea, trust me,” she insisted, motioning towards the tea.
“No!” I yelled at her, obviously fuelled by stress, “Listen Mum, I’m sorry but I really have to get back to finish this story,” I said with a ferocious tenacity. I got up and left before she could say anything. As I reversed out, Mum was on the verandah blowing me a kiss as I left.
“Alright Jameson! Is that story ready?” Mr Hargrove yelled as I typed my last words.
“Yes Mr Hargrove! Coming right away!” I replied as I rushed the printed copies over to him.
“Well this is fantastic! Be on the lookout for that promotion young Jameson!” said Mr Hargrove with pride in his eyes. Relief washed over me and the stress seemed to let go of it’s grip on me.
“Urgent call for Lachlan Jameson!” said Sylvia, the secretary. It turns out that was the worst thing to have ever been said to me. Mum had died.
That night, as I lay in bed, the tear stains on my pillow were all but a reminder, a reminder that she was gone. A void of ever-growing darkness encapsulated me. It was that stupid story, the story that stopped me from ever saying goodbye. There is now a giant hole in my life, a giant hole created by the monster that took her.
The monster was nothing more than a ferocious, darkening diseased void-maker that takes what you love most. My tear stained pillow, dry now as my tears were seldom lost. A life had been robbed and I was left with the pain of my own regret.