Abigail receives a call from her aunt Rosalind, requesting a meeting that afternoon. Rosalind has just completed her latest treatment for cancer and sounds a bit subdued on the phone, but assures Abigail she’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Rhiannon has been keeping Abigail up-to-date on the course of treatment someone in Rosalind’s condition would be receiving and Genevieve, who’s the only one allowed to visit Rosalind at the treatment facility, has been updating Abigail on Rosalind’s progress. Still, Abigail isn’t quite prepared for how Rosalind has changed when she opens the door for Abigail at her house. Her weight has dropped considerably and all her hair has fallen out. Rosalind wears a Red Sox baseball cap to hide it. The once vibrant and robust woman Abigail is used to seeing now seems like a wisp of her former self.
“Can I get you anything?” Rosalind asks as she leads Abigail down the hall to the living room.
“Oh, I can get myself something. I know my way around the kitchen.
“I may be a bit incapacitated, but I’m still capable of seeing to the needs of my guests. What’ll you have?”
“Water would be fine.”
Abigail sits on the couch as Rosalind disappears into the kitchen and returns a moment later with a tray containing a pitcher of water and a glass which she sets in front of Abigail.
“Is Genni here?” Abigail says.
“No,” Rosalind tells her. “I wanted to speak to you in private.”
She sits in an easy chair across from Abigail.
“Is everything okay?”
“No it isn’t. At my last checkup it was determined that the treatment isn’t having any effect. The cancer’s spread.”
Abigail covers her mouth. “No.”
“We’re focusing now on managing the pain. I’ve told Rhiannon but I think she already suspected it. She’s recommended a colleague of hers who specializes in what comes next.”
“I am so sorry to hear that, Rosie. Does Genni know?”
“Not yet. I’ll speak to her tonight when she gets home.”
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
“As a matter of fact, there is. If anything happens to me before Genni turns eighteen, I’d like you to be Genni’s guardian.”
Abigail has taken out a tissue and is dabbing her eyes with it. “I’d be honored to be. Why me and not Mom?”
“Rhiannon’s going to be my executor and that will be quite a job. I didn’t want to dump too much responsibility on her. But, more importantly, you and Genni have a great relationship. She trusts you, confides in you. I think you’ve always sort of looked out for her. Plus, you’re a very responsible young woman and I know you’ll make the right choices for her.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Please be sure that she knows that everything I’ve ever done for her, it’s because I care so much for her.”
“I think she knows that.”
“It’s possible she could hear things, or learn things that might make her question it. I want you to make sure she never doubts my love for her.”
“I don’t understand, Rosie. Is there something you’re trying to tell me?”
Rosalind smiles. “Of course not. If you ever need to, you can always count on your mother. She’s as good a sister as she’s been a mother.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Promise me that you’ll always be there for Genevieve. She’s going to need a lot of guidance after I’m gone.”
“You don’t even need to ask, Rosie. Of course I will. She’s my little sister.”
“I’m so glad the two of you had the opportunity to get to know one another and bond like you have. It makes what comes next more bearable.”
Abigail goes to Rosalind and sits on the arm of her chair then puts her arms around her aunt, barely containing her emotions.
“You can count on me, Rosie. Always.”