It was full minutes later before Helen even began to shift. With the monitor muted, the stead white line moving from left to right on the screen, Stella was gone, finally separated from the pain and the agony of her end. But, Helen didn’t stop whispering and kissing, even longer than those minutes. When a nurse came to the other side of the bed and touched her shoulder, she looked up at the doctor, and then dropped her head back to Stella’s shoulder for one last moment. With a kiss to her cheek, she carefully eased off the bed, as though afraid of waking her friend who finally found peace. She bent over to place a kiss on the lips, then turned to us and literally fell, stumbling into our arms. We moved her to the other bed and took up support on either side of her. Finally, she was free to release her emotions and she did, openly and nearly wailing her grief and sorrow while Mom and I quietly wept with her. Our pain being for our little girl who we now held in our arms and rocked her in unison, kissing her hair, and stroking her back.

When we could, we helped her to Tim’s car; we decided to leave mine, which Helen had been using, in the hospital garage for the night. We would retrieve it sometime tomorrow. For now, we were more concerned and intent on Helen.

Arriving home, I was and wasn’t surprised to see Tim waiting up for us despite the late, late hour and his need to be in the office the next morning. He was going to be wiped out tomorrow at work, but he too made the choice for Helen. While we settled her onto the sofa in the family room, Tim fixed her a double Jack Daniels and a single for each of us. It might be crude, but she needed to be numbed to help her mind stop long enough for some much needed sleep. Once she was done with her drink, Tim picked her up in his arms while Mom and I scurried around closing and locking doors and turning off lights. We stripped our girl out of her clothes, thinking this had to have been the longest she has been in clothes for a long, long time. She was eased into the middle of the bed and we joined her, sandwiching her between Tim to her front and Mom to her back with me reaching over Mom to offering what I intended to be soothing strokes.

I think we all said a silent prayer that she would finally have a restful and peaceful night.

When morning came and the alarm sounded, it was pretty much like most mornings around our home. Mom was up with coffee made and getting a breakfast organized for Tim. We talked and evidently very intently because we were both surprised when Tim came up behind us as we stood at the patio door with our coffee mugs. His two hands lovingly patted our asses and stoked up our back to our necks and he kissed each of us in turn. I love being naked and the availability it presents for intimate touches like this whenever we are close to someone in the family.