My first (and maybe only) short story…not sure why I’m writing it but felt that I needed to get it off my chest. It’s not really a happy story so please feel free to skip.
There once was a woman who had become ill with cancer. She knew that she was sick and needed surgery but kept putting it off because she feared that she would not survive the life-risking treatment that was necessary. So for a long time, she continued to live with pains from the disease rather than to have the cancer cells removed from her completely.
Now the one thing most important to this woman was a garden she tended. From bare soil she and her husband planted everything together, eventually making it a beautiful garden that flourished. The woman enjoyed her garden so much that she feared neglecting it should her recovery become slow and long.
Finally, her family convinced her to undergo surgery because she was no longer able to care for her beloved garden the way she wished. So she bravely went under the knife hoping that once free of cancer she would someday be able to take better care of the garden.
Fortunately, the surgery was successful but it left the woman very weak. She was alive but just barely. When she was released to recover at home, the woman was ecstatic. Even though it took twice as much time t and effort to tend to her garden, she was once again able to take care of it!
Her family was concerned about her taking care of this garden on her own; they try to help her whenever they could but tending the garden gave the woman so much joy that she didn’t mind. So slowly but steadily she made her way and walked to the garden every day.
Now, this woman originally had a husband. At first, he too, was quite concerned about her illness. Together they tried everything they could to help ward off the disease. But in the end the cancer cells spread to most of her body and the husband grew weary and felt too worn down to continue to care for her. So with the understanding of the family, he parted from his wife and entrusted her care to her family. The family was sad to see him go and wished that he would come alongside her recovery but they knew that he had his own life to live and that the uncertainty of her recovery was too much for him to handle. Since she was no longer that healthy woman he had married they could not expect him to carry her for the rest of his life even though on their wedding day the couple had vowed to stick together in “sickness and in health.”
While the woman and her husband had separated, they shared a genuine love for the garden they had built. So they agreed to share in the responsibility of tending to it. So at different times, they would each tend to it and the garden continued to flourish despite the dramatic changes that had happened in the couple’s life.
Although this garden was private, the roads that led to it were not. So it was somewhat dangerous for the woman to make her regular visits using the public road since she was slow and not very alert. But because it gave her great joy and hope to go to the garden, her family quietly supported her regular visits but at the same time they warned the neighbors about this woman’s condition hoping that they would take extra care when driving down the road.
In spite of this, one day, tragedy happened. While the woman was making her way to the garden, a neighbor drove down the road and hit her head-on. The driver wasn’t driving very fast, maybe even a few miles below the speed limit but the woman was too slow to get out of the way. The driver could see the woman on the road and thought that the woman could see her too so surely the woman could have gotten out of the way. But the woman didn’t see the driver and couldn’t move out of the way fast enough so she was hit by the neighbor’s car.
The neighbor was sorry to have hit the woman. The woman’s family knew that since the road was public, the neighbor had done no wrong in using the road that day. But there were other roads to get out of the neighborhood and only one path to the garden. So they had hoped that the neighbors would sympathize and show extra consideration to the woman, at least until she fully recovered.
After the accident, the neighbor offered to take care of the garden for the woman. But the woman refused. The neighbor couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t accept the help because she too thought the garden beautiful and wanted to help take care of it. But the only thing the woman kept thinking about was how much she wanted to tend to the garden herself; a task that she didn’t want to entrust to just anyone.
Later, the family of the woman found out that the neighbor who had hit the woman with her car had already been helping to care for the garden – except she was doing it with the woman’s ex-husband, and only when it was his turn to tend to the garden. “He needed extra help,” she said. “So I was being neighborly in giving him a hand.” When asked why she didn’t visit the garden while the woman was there tending to it, she replied, “Oh, but I am good friends with the husband. She has her family to help and he’s all alone.”
So the woman lay in the hospital, with only a photo of the garden to remind her of its beauty. She is working very hard to recover quickly so she can get back to tending to it again. Some days she’s very sad about how slow she is progressing. And she fears that even when she is finally discharged from the hospital, she won’t be able to tend to it in the same way she used to before the accident. But her family assured her that she will grow stronger each day and that her loving care is what makes the garden flourish.
As for that neighbor, the family didn’t hear from her again. She never did visit the woman in the hospital or expressed regret for having driven down the road that day. “It was a public road and I was driving the speed limit, so the woman should have been more careful,” she said. Since that accident the neighbor continues to drive down that road regularly, maybe even faster now because she knows the woman is no longer walking on the road.