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Megan slowly drove up the long driveway and parked the car. A heavy sense of loneliness settled in her belly. After sitting there for a few minutes looking at the familiar house, she finally got out of the car and gazed around the yard. The gardeners still took care of it, but she knew it would never be the same. She ached deep inside, and she wondered if that feeling would ever go away.
Now that her mother was gone, she would need to go through her things and decide what to keep, what to throw out, and what to donate. It was a tough job. One that she had put off for a few months, but something urged her to finally take care of it. But now she wasn’t sure if she was up to it.
Letting out a big sigh, she climbed the few steps to the porch and looked at the swing. Memories of sitting on that swing and talking to her mom for hours about anything and everything came back to her in a rush. Tears threatened to fall. She clearly remembered the last time they sat there together. Her mother had died only two weeks later.
Not wanting to go inside yet, she sat on the swing. It felt comfortable and familiar, yet empty without her mom there next to her. “I miss you, Mom,” she whispered. Feelings of loss and exhaustion overwhelmed her.
After not sleeping well the night before, she relaxed and idly swung back and forth. Feeling lost and lonely, fatigue overtook her, and she dozed off.
Thirty minutes later, she suddenly jerked awake. Sniffing the air, she smelled her mom’s perfume. How was that possible? It must have been from the dream. She quickly sat upright as the dream came back to her.
In her dream her mom had come to her, and it felt so real. Her mother looked young, healthy, and happy. She talked to her the way she always did, giving advice, supporting her, and being caring and compassionate. Her mom wanted her to be happy. A few words from the dream came back to her. “Get rid of my stuff, I don’t need it anymore … Be happy and live your life … Find love … Bake cookies and bring them to Jack Barton down the street …” Then the dream faded.
Megan stood up, stretched, and looked out over the rose bushes. Her mom loved those bushes, and deep longing and nostalgia swept over her. She shook her head. She really needed to go inside and start going through her mother’s things.
Slowly opening the front door, Megan peeked inside. It was just how she remembered it. Parts of the dream came back to her as she entered the house. Cookies! She needed to bake cookies and bring them to Jack Barton down the street. Memories of her mom baking cookies and taking them to the neighbors brought a smile to her face. She could do that, and if that’s what her mom wanted, she would do that again. It would be a nice way to honor her memory.
Two hours later, holding a plate of fresh, hot sugar cookies, she knocked on the door of Jack Barton’s house.
The door opened, and a handsome young man about her age stood there, his blond hair falling into his eyes. He quickly pushed his hair back with his fingers and stared at her for a few moments. “Megan?”
She nodded, feeling her face flush. “Lucas?”
Jack came up behind Lucas. “Megan, how nice to see you.” His gray hair stuck out in several places, and his eyes lit up as he saw the plate of cookies. “Oh, you brought cookies — how wonderful! Come in, come in.”
Glancing at Lucas and smiling shyly, Megan followed the older man into the kitchen.
Jack took the plate of cookies. “These look so good, just like your mom used to make.”
Megan felt awkward. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to barge in without calling first, I just—”
Jack cut her off. “No, it’s okay, it’s fine.” He placed the cookies on the kitchen table. “I always looked forward to your mom bringing cookies over. Sit, please. Help yourself to one of them. Would you like some lemonade?”
Feeling a bit unsure, Megan hesitated, but she did not want to insult him. “Sure,” she finally said. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure. I always loved your mom’s cookies.” He placed three glasses on the table and poured the lemonade. “Help yourself. The lemonade is fresh.”
Jack gestured between the two of them. “Lucas, you remember Megan, don’t you? She’s Carol’s daughter.” He glanced at Megan. “Carol always made such amazing cookies, and I’m sure these are good too.” He grabbed a cookie from the plate. “Megan, you remember my son Lucas, right? I’m sure you’ve seen him around, but I know it’s been a while. He just got home from college.”
Megan remembered a gangly young boy from years ago, but not the good-looking man who now stood next to her. “Yes, it has been a long time.” She felt herself flush. “Lucas, you look so different from how I remember you.”
Lucas laughed. “Yes, it’s definitely been a long time.” Not taking his eyes off Megan, he sat down at the table across from her. “You sure have changed a lot, too.” He chuckled. “I remember you as a cute, little shy girl from down the street.” He hesitated and then spoke more softly. “You sure have grown up.”
Megan laughed. “You have too.” She sipped the cool drink and then licked her lips and turned to Jack. “This is really good.”
Jack smiled. “You’re very welcome. And these cookies are just as good as Carol used to bake. Maybe even better.” His eyes sparkled.
The chair scraped on the floor as Lucas stood up. “I’m really sorry, but I have an appointment in a few minutes, and I need to leave.” He gazed at Megan. “Um, could I call you later? Maybe we could get together.”
Megan smiled. “I’d really like that.”
“Could I get your phone number?”
“Sure.” She recited it and Lucas wrote it down.
He looked at her as longing and regret flashed across his face. “I’m sorry I have to go. I really enjoyed seeing you again and talking to you.” He paused for a few moments. “I’ll call you soon, okay?”
Megan nodded as she watched him walk to the door.
Lucas turned to Jack. “Dad, I’ll be back in about two hours.” His gaze fell back on Megan and he smiled. Then he turned and left.
“Well,” Jack said. “It looks like my son likes you.”
Megan felt heat rising in her face. “I like him too. I hope he calls.”
“Oh, he will. Trust me. He will.” Jack’s eyes sparkled.
An hour later, Megan again sat on the swing on her mom’s porch, idly rocking back and forth. She couldn’t stop the smile from forming. “Thanks, Mom,” she whispered. “You still have my back. Bringing the cookies to Jack was a great idea. And maybe I’ll even find love.” She glanced over the familiar yard. “I know you’re watching over me, Mom. Even from heaven, you are still helping me. I love you, Mom.”
She could almost feel her mom sitting next to her. Warmth spread through her as she realized that she now had hope again. The sense of emptiness was slowly dissipating and being replaced by hope for the future. She felt like she was able to move forward with her life again, and she looked forward to hearing from Lucas.
Maybe she would even find love. And that was the best gift of all.
Copyright © 2022 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.
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