With a catch in her voice, she chokingly replied, “Oh, honey, mommy is so busy, but I miss hearing your voice. I shooed everyone out of the room so we could talk for a few minutes.
“How are you feeling? Is Nanna taking good care of you?” Tanja’s voice almost drifted into a whisper as she added, “You know we have to see the doctor next month for the next round…”
In a perky tone, her daughter related. “I remember, Mommy. Nanna reminded me this morning. When are you coming home? I miss you.”
Using all her resolve to hold back the sobbing, Tanja admitted, “I miss you too, sweetheart, but mommy has important work to do…, for both of us. I’ll be home soon as I can. You, my strong one, must continue to follow the doctor’s orders so we can get you well. I promise we’ll be together soon.
“Is Nanna there? Can I talk with her?”
A moment later a dull, disinterested voice spoke, “Dis be, Madam Chairman Tanja? Before you be shouting, she asked if it was okay to phone her mommy. I couldn’t think of nothing to tell her why she couldn’t. Besides, it be good tonic for the child to talk to her last parent, even if it’s only you.”
Tanja was about to morph from the emotional puddle into a category 5 hurricane, but the phone changed hands again and the sweet voice announced, “Mommy, my birthday is coming up soon. Remember, you said if I was a good girl, I could have that special present I asked about.
“Mommy, I’ve been a good girl and done all the chores we talked about, except where I can’t get out of the wheelchair. Will it be okay to get the puppy for my birthday? I really want a puppy to play with and to sit on my lap, Mommy.”
Tanja was teetering on the edge of emotional demise, but she managed to hold on with the last threads of resolve. “Honey, you keep doing the things we talked about and we’ll see. Alright, sweetheart?”
“Oh, Mommy!” The excited lilting voice replied, “You make me so happy! I love you so much! Can’t wait to see you! Bye!”
Tanja disconnected the call but held the phone close to her chest as if the residual warmth would avert the sobbing fit which she wanted to succumb to, when she noticed Randal by her side. He held out the medicine carefully poured into a standard shot glass. Her anger quickly displaced all of her emotional tenderness, as she grabbed the shot glass filled with her favorite whiskey and, true to form, slugged all of it down in one shot.
Roughly thrusting the glass back into his hand, as she gained ground on her composure, she demanded, “Again!”
They completed the exchange four more times before Tanja acknowledged, “Finally. That’s better! Thanks, Randal. You’re the only one who would understand.”
After downing the fifth one she was breathing easier and calmly asked for another, but only held it as a reserve measure, in case the emotional tsunami flared up again.
Randal put the cork back, suggesting the emotional crisis had abated for the moment, sitting the bottle down but still close at hand.
Tanja absent-mindedly muttered, “I absolutely hate hearing from them. It’s more than I can…”
Randal dispassionately offered, “Yes, I know. Yes, no one else will know.”
Tanja, feeling the effects of five shots of whiskey, calmly eyed Randal. “You know what I like after a good jolt of whiskey, used for winding up an emotional rollercoaster ride?”
In a rather deadpan way Randal offered, “Drunken monkey sex?”
She smirked, slugged down the rest of her whiskey and slurred, “You know it, toots!”
He was relieved when he caught her just as she passed out.
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