The Time Had Come

Meredith Mallone suffered from Cerebral Palsy. For most of her life she’d been in a wheelchair. She had character and liked playing peek-a-boo with her caregiver. She laughed when her younger sister, Virginia, would play with a string with a family cat, Snuffles. Little things brought her joy.
The sound of the split system air conditioner in Brisbane kept her going on most days. It was one of the things that remained consistent in the background, while everything around her changed. She herself had changed, but not to the degree that the family did over twenty years. She’d known that it was almost time for her to die, her illness would not allow her to live past twenty five, and even that was being being hopeful.
Her mother, Romana, would talk to her every day. She didn’t think that Ramona comprehended that Meredith understood most of what she would say to her. She couldn’t respond as she would like to and therefore it didn’t matter that Ramona misunderstood her. The split system air conditioner would be her focus when she couldn’t jump out of her wheelchair and hug her dear mother as she would have liked to.
Ramona would be in tears next to her, speaking about how empty the place would be when Meredith’s time had come. It was not pleasant to hear this. Meredith had still not made peace with death.
When Grandma Meredith died, everybody cried. Meredith could not. Her brain could not link up with the emotion of grief. It was a concept that condition blocked her from knowing.
Her father, Gareth, was more pleasant. He would read Louis Armour westerns to her. His voice was most soothing, especially after seeing her mother cry. He would come in when it was almost bed time. Her little sister would be in her room too, listening to stories about cowboys and saloons, and the fastest gun.
Meredith couldn’t express it, but she could feel that her insides were caving in. With each passing day little body pains increased in degree. One day her stomach hurt so much that she screamed out in pain. Her caregiver rushed to her side. She then called the ambulance because she felt helpless to Meredith’s sudden outbursts of pain.
She then called Romana and Gareth and they all met up at the hospital. Virginia came in after school had finished. Nobody said anything, but everyone knew that Meredith’s time had indeed come.
The doctor suggested that everyone prepare themselves. They all stayed at the hospital that night. Dr. Khan announced at 12.18am that Meredith had passed.