No Regrets: a short story

Cpt Jules

TVS Writer and Beta Reader/Editor
Jul 20, 2005
Colorado Springs, CO
Several years ago, I had a dream. When I woke, I wrote this in less than fifteen minutes. It's still one of my favorites.

Warning: Before you read, grab a hankie!


No Regrets
A Quantum Leap short story
by Kat Freymuth

He lies in the hospital bed, listening to his shallow breath. He knew it would happen one day but not now. Not like this. Not like his father had died. Not from cancer. But it is his time.

"Daddy?" a beautiful voice says at the side of his bed.

He feels a loving hand take his. He feels his hand being gently pressed to soft lips.

"Darling," another voice says.

He finally opens his eyes and smiles weakly at the ladies in his room. They look so much alike, mother and daughter. Both are extremely beautiful both in mind and in body. However, he can see a lot of himself in his daughter's worried face. She is the youngest of his four daughters and is now an adult. Still, he can see a frightened ten year old child in her eyes - the same frightened child he was a long time ago.

"Papa?" the little voice said by the bed.

Papa looked at the boy with loving eyes - his son, who will grow up without his parents and who will take care of his little sister.

"Bambino," Papa said gently with a slight smile. "It's okay. Everything will be okay so long as you pray for me. Do you understand, Albert?"

The boy nodded. "Yes, Papa. I will pray for you."

He tries to ignore the growing concern in the ladies' eyes. "Hi," he whispers to them, trying to hide how tired he really is.

His wife sees through the attempt immediately but doesn't comment on it. "How do you feel?" she asks him.

He is tempted to lie but he knows it wouldn't be fair to them. "Very tired," he admits.

The answer doesn't surprise either of the ladies. He has gone through many sessions of radiation therapy. He no longer has the curly black hair he used to have. His complexion is gray and sickly. No one wants to admit it verbally but they all know that he won't be with his family and friends for much longer.

His wife strokes to top of his bald head gently. "The girls will be here soon," she tells him. "Angie will be here right after work and Liz's plane lands tonight."

He sighs. "I don't want anyone to fuss over me," he tells her. "Even if they are the five most beautiful women in the world."

The ladies smile warmly at his comment.

"We like to fuss over you," his daughter says gently. She walks around the bed and takes her father's hand.

He smiles. Christy can always make him smile.

"Christy has something important to tell you," Beth says after a moment.

Al looks at his daughter with expectation.

Christy smiles. "Dana's asked me to marry him."

His smile widens. He touches Christy's cheek. "Christy, I'm so happy for you," he tells her lovingly. "He's a good man. He'll take care of you and your mother."

Christy takes a breath. "Dad, you're not going to die."

He gives her a gentle smile. She has said what he had once said to his own father. He hadn't understood then but he does now. He places his other hand over hers, sandwiching it between both of his hands.

"It's okay, Christy," he assures her. "Everything's going to be okay." He glances at Beth and back at Christy. "Do you mind if I speak to your mom alone?"

Christy stands up with a loving smile. "Of course not," she says, squeezing his hand before leaving the room.

"You're rather calm about all of this," Beth tells him when they are alone.

He takes a deep breath. "I'm not afraid to die," he tells her simply.

She smiles slightly at him. "You've never been afraid of anything."

He laughs slightly. "I've been afraid," he tells her. "Many times. But not now. I don't know what it is. Everything just seems so much clearer now." He exhales. "I understand what Papa meant when he died." He laughs slightly. "It took me seventy plus years to figure it out." He looks into Beth's eyes. "I love you so much."

There are tears in her eyes. She knows the truth of the situation. She has seen it happen to other people. But why her husband? Why must it happen to him?

He touches her cheek and chin. "Please, don't cry," he pleads gently.

"I can't help it," she whispers. "I'm losing you. We're losing you."

He kisses her with intense love in his every action. "I'll always be with you," he whispers to her. "Nothing can separate us as long as we love each other."

She laughs slightly. "You've gotten sentimental in your old age."

"You don't believe that?"

She kisses him passionately. "With all my heart," she replies genuinely.

"Then all you have to do is pray for me."

She looks at him with curiosity. "You really do understand what your father meant."

He nods. "I thought he meant, that if I prayed for him, he would live. But that's not what he meant. I realize that now that I'm so close to being with him."

"Al, don't talk like that," she warns.

Al takes her hand firmly. "Beth, you're a very strong woman. I know you can make it without me being physically with you. I'll always be with you spiritually."

"I know," Beth tells him. She pauses. "I'll pray for you. And for the girls and myself."

Al nods slightly, a smile in his tiring eyes.

"You need rest," Beth says to him softly. She kisses his forehead. "Go to sleep." She starts for the door.

"Beth?" Al calls out.

She turns to her husband.

"I want you to know I have no regrets and I'm at ease with this." He pauses. "When Sam gets home, will you give him my letter?"

She smiles at him. "Of course, I will."

He looks at her with eyes so intense that they can reach her soul. "I love you."

Beth's heart instantly feels like it's about to burst. She hurries to Al and the two envelop each other with an embrace that cannot ever be duplicated.

When Beth releases Al, he is asleep. She kisses him one last time before leaving the room, her heart and mind at ease. She isn't in the room when Al is finally reunited with his father and his sister.
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I loved this story the first time I ever read it :):mumbles:: years ago) and I love it still!!
Ok, now I'm in trouble.

Sitting at my desk at the end of my lunchbreak blubbing my eyes out!!!! :'(

If the kids had any doubt I was crazy, it just vanished.

Very moving, Kat. Brava.
:cry :cry :cry I was crying all day!!!:cry :cry :cry :( :( :( Great story, my kids also fing QL great, I showed them the story, everyone but my hubbie were sitting on the couch crying!:( :( :(
Everyone wants to read the letter . . . you should write the letter. ^.^ 'Cause it'd be shiny.

Al dying is always always a tear jerker. We all love Al so much . . . weird.