His Last Christmas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Ashley's father is facing his last Christmas and Nicholas knows just the thing to help them both through it.

Won third place in FlanneryChallengesYou's Very Merry in Love Christmas contest.

Submitted: November 29, 2013

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Submitted: November 29, 2013

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His Last Christmas

“Ashley, I am sorry to tell you this, but your father most likely only has two weeks left to live. I don’t know that he will even see the new year.”

Her ears refused to believe what she had just heard. The doctor didn’t know what he was talking about. Her father was perfectly fine. He had been responding to the chemo therapy. Why did it have to be now after things were going so well did they have to take a turn for the worse? He was doing fine…

“No,” she whispered harshly through breath that was hardly fulfilling. She could feel every part of her body shaking in disbelief, anger, and fear. Tears burned her eyes, making her blink repetively. She would not believe what she had heard. She refused. “No,” she shook her head, “he was doing just fine. You’re wrong.”

A look of pity crossed the doctor’s face as he leaned forward and placed his hand around her arm to keep her steady. “I really am sorry, Ashley. Your father has requested that you take him home. He says he doesn’t want to be here when the time comes, and honestly, I think it will be good for him.”

She swallowed hard and allowed her head to fall forward on her shoulders. She could understand why daddy would ask to go home before… It was where all his memories of mom were, all of his memories of their lives before the cancer started tearing everything apart.

“Go home, Ashley. Get your home ready for your father and when you are prepared, I will sign his papers for him to spend his last days at home with you. Someone will come to the house every day to check on him until the time comes.”

Her head nodded out of robotic reflex. The doctor awkwardly wrapped his arms around her in a hug that he had hoped to be reassuring, but it obviously wasn’t. As he walked away, she felt her knees begin to buckle beneath her and just as she was about to collapse on the floor, a pair of strong arms wrapped around her from behind. She didn’t have to look to know who had caught her.

“I heard everything,” Nicholas, her boyfriend of two years, mumbled against her ear as he held her up against his chest with only a little bit of required strength. “Ash, baby, I’m so damn sorry.”

That was when she lost it. Wailing sobs of pain and grief escaped from her lips and she did nothing to stop them as she turned and threw her arms around his neck, thankful for his supportive embrace. Nick pulled her over to the nearest two chairs, rubbed her back, wiped her tears, and put her hair behind her ears as she cried as much as she needed to at that moment. She still didn’t get it all out.

“Nick… God, I don’t know what to do,” she sniffled and lifted her head to look at his face, knowing hers was extremely red and puffy from the sobbing she had been doing. Yet, he still looked at her in love and smiled softly at her, running his fingertips across her cheeks.

“Christmas is tomorrow, Ash. Let’s go home and decorate for when we bring your father home. We’ll make it as if none of this has ever happened,” he suggested.

She couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought of it herself to begin with. If she thought she loved this man before, it was nothing compared to what she felt for him at that moment. With a large smile, she pressed her lips against his after nodding enthusiastically.

“Let me go say bye to daddy and then we’ll go,” she muttered as she stood up.

“I’ll go get the car.”

Nodding her head once more, she wiped the remaining tears from her face and moved for the door of her father’s hospital room. Pushing it open, she walked inside and over to his bed. “Hi, daddy,” she whispered.

She got no response, not that she should have expected one. Sitting on the edge of the bed carefully, she wrapped her fingers around her father’s withering hand. “We’re going to take you home after a while, daddy…at least to your home here on earth. Then, when you’re ready, God’s going to take you to your everlasting home,” her voice broke as fresh tears welled up.

Not able to take it anymore, she sucked back her sobs and stood up. “I’ll be back soon, daddy,” she said quickly as she walked for the door.

~*~

Nicholas’ hand was wrapped tightly around Ash’s as they walked through the front door. The place was practically bare. Her previous tears kept revisiting every once in a while and that moment was no exception.

“The decorations are up in the attic,” she coughed and turned her head in the direction of the living room. “I’ll start moving the furniture for the tree.”

She began to walk away but Nicholas tightened his hand around hers and pulled her against him so that their chests were pressed tightly against the others. He cupped her cheek in his palm and tilted her head back so that they were eye to eye. “I’m right here, Ash. I’ll help you through this.”

God, she loved this man. She wasn’t sure what she’d do without him.

Leaning up on her toes, she kissed his lips softly. “Thank you.”

He kissed her back passionately but quickly before heading down the hallway to open up the attic.

Taking a breath, she faced the daunting task head on by walking to the living room and pushing the couches into different places to make room for the tree. It wasn’t long before Nick found his way back with several boxes of different decorations and the two of them had set up the tree. They just had to decorate it.

Picking up the remote, Nick turned on the television and found some light Christmas music for them to listen to as they worked. It helped in lightening her mood. Opening the first box as she sat down on the couch, she reached in and pulled out the first thing she could grab.

Of course, it was a sentimental item. In fact, it was the one that held the largest part of her heart. The simple Christmas tree decoration was something she had made with her father. She could remember the day they had made it. Her mother had suggested the idea. All it simply was was a clothes pin decorated as a reindeer, with a red cotton ball for it’s nose, googly eyes, and small twigs for its antlers. At the time, she had thought it was the greatest decoration ever made.

A small laugh mixed with tears bubbled from her throat as she looked down at the reindeer. Nick leaned down by her and wrapped his hands around the one that was holding the decoration.

“Do you want me to hang it?” He asked quietly.

She made herself nod. “Yes, at the top, please…right underneath where the angel will be.”

He nodded in return. “We’ll hang it after we fix up the lights.” Leaning over, he grabbed the line of Christmas lights and took her hand to pull her to her feet.

Together, they worked on wrapping the strand around the Christmas tree. They didn’t realize that it had gotten tangled, and in the midst of it all, the two of them were wrapped up in the trap of Christmas lights.

Giggles erupted from Ash’s mouth, something she didn’t think she could do at that moment. As a wide smile spread on her face and the giggles turned to full on laughter, she allowed Nicholas to pull her back into his embrace and leaned up to press her forehead against his.

“It’s good to hear you laugh,” he grinned as he placed a kiss on her forehead.

Swallowing hard once more, her smile lessened a little bit as she was reminded of what they were doing, but she didn’t let it disappear completely. “I’m going to miss him…”

“I know, baby. I know. But this is something he will think about until the very end and even past that, and we will be able to hold onto this memory for the rest of our lives.”

“We?”

“Yes, we, Ashley. I’m never going to leave you, ever. I promise.”

She wanted to cry. But she felt like she’d done too much of that today. So she did the only thing she could to express the happiness he was bringing her by kissing him hard and with possession. She couldn’t have asked for a better man.

~

“It’s perfect,” she smiled as she looked at all the lights and decorations on the tree and around the room. “He’ll love it.”

Nicholas nodded as he wrapped his arm around her waist and tugged her close. “Come on. Let’s go bring your father home for his last and best Christmas.”

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