This is a uber story. It is a continuation of the story begun in To Know You. It helps to have read the first story, but I think you can still enjoy this one without having read the first one.

This story revolves around a loving relationship between two women, what that relationship is will be up to the reader to decide. Some may not see much subtext, some will see more.

This story is still best classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story. Readers who
are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read
something other than this story.

I would love to hear any and all feedback.



To Love You




Chapter 6

Oh Virginia, with it’s green rolling hills, and rich foliage that draped over every road in a canopy
of leaves. As Helen drove through Charlottesville for the first time in nearly a year, she felt a pang
of homesickness, not for this, her hometown, but for Austin and Sam. She drove down familiar
streets toward Warren Avenue where her mother still lived after thirty three years. From a
distance Helen could see the white house with the same ancient blue trim. The steps leading to the
front door hadn’t been fixed in ten years, and they still sagged on the left most side. It made
Helen’s heart sink to think that some things never changed.

Helen pulled the car into the driveway, and sat staring at the front yard filled with shadows from
her past, while Amy stepped out and unlocked the front door to the house. A few moments later
when Helen still hadn’t come in, Amy came out and tapped on the driver’s side window. Helen
jumped at the sudden noise and came out of her reminiscence to look over at her mother. She
pushed the car door open and stepped out into the driveway to stand beside her mother.

“I just called the hospital, your father can have visitors until nine tonight...but I thought you might
want to go on over now and see him?” Amy asked meekly.

“Let’s eat something, and then we’ll go,” Helen simply answered.

Amy nodded and they walked into the house together. After a simple lunch of tuna fish and tea,
Helen resigned herself to doing what she came to do. The hospital was twenty minutes away, and
in the time it took to cover twelve miles, Helen’s discomfort had increased tenfold. She wanted to
run from this encounter, to return to where she felt safe, but how could she ever go back with a
weight such as this on her soul? She shook the question away, and followed her mother into
Albemarle County Hospital. The sterile smell of bleach struck Helen as the sliding doors opened.
It reminded her too vividly of her visits to Travis County Hospital with Samantha. Her thoughts
drifted back in painful memories of watching Samantha endure treatment after treatment. Helen
sighed, and said a silent thank you for Sam’s recovery, and wished to never have to see Sam in a
hospital bed again.

Amy and Helen wove through mazes of hallways past dismal scenes of weeping families, until
finally they reached room 112 in the intensive care wing. Amy walked in first, and Helen trailed in
after her. She saw her father lying in a bed, with tubes running out his nose, his hospital gown was
pulled open at his chest, and a thick white bandage covered his heart. Helen swallowed hard, and
stood away from his bed by the large windows that lined one wall of the small room. His eyes
were closed, and he looked so much older than Helen had remembered. Amy beckoned her over
with a nod of her head, and like a little girl, Helen obeyed.

The air in the room felt hot and stagnant, and Helen’s breaths came in short silent gasps. Amy
bent low to whisper something in her husband’s ear. David Riley’s gray eyes shot open, and Helen
felt herself flinch. His glassy stare bore through her, and she narrowed her eyes in preparation. His
fingers twitched, pointing to the seat placed next to the bed. She walked around behind her
mother, and sat in the chair cautiously.

“I wasn’t sure you’d come,” he said in a hoarse voice barely above a whisper. His white hair
stood out against his dark leathery skin, and Helen watched his chest rise and fall with his

“I wasn’t sure I would either.”

He let out a hollow laugh. “Why did you come?”

How dare him ask her that, when she couldn’t answer it for herself. “I needed to see you.”

“Amy, get me some ice chips,” he called out over Helen’s shoulder. Amy turned and left without
a word. Once she was gone, he turned his cold eyes back on her. “I know what you want to hear
me say.” He paused, waiting for a reaction. She didn’t give him the satisfaction, she just sat with
the same blank expression fixed on her face. “You want to hear me grovel on my death bed. You
want to hear me beg for your forgiveness, and for what? I was never unfaithful to you.”

“You were always unfaithful to this family. Do you think that because I’m your daughter you hurt
me any less than you hurt your wife?”

He clenched his jaw. “Why are you here?” he yelled.

Why indeed, she asked herself.

“If you came to hear an apology, then you’d better go home.”

Helen looked at her father as he said the words, and she saw there a scared little man, who
couldn’t face his own daughter without defending his past. She wondered who he was trying to
convince. Her heart softened toward him then, even though his would always remain hard. She
reached out and took his feeble hand. It was so unlike the hand she had held as a little girl. Then,
it had been huge, and invincible, as he had seemed.

She tried to remember the exact moment she had lost the father she loved. It hadn’t been when
she’d discovered his other life with other women, it wasn’t when he refused to attend their
weekend adventures, it wasn’t even the times when he had reprimanded a rebellious ten year old
girl. She had lost that man the moment he let go of her hand that Saturday morning. Helen had
helped her father load his car for a trip to Alexandria, and as they walked back to the house for
the last suitcase he reached down and grabbed her hand, squeezing it gently. He had held her hand
even as he stepped into his car, and seemed reluctant to let her go. It was the only time he had
showed any affection for his daughter, and it would be the last time as well.

Helen squeezed her father’s hand and laid it back on the sheets by his hip. “I forgive you,” she
whispered into his ear. With those words spoken, she rose from the chair, and stepped toward the
door. Just as she reached the doorway she heard his soft voice from behind call her back. Helen
turned to look at him.

“I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you.” He looked away from her then, out of the windows where the sun
was setting over Charlottesville.

She nodded her head, and left the room.

Helen found her mother sitting on an olive green couch outside her husband’s room, looking
forlorn. Her shoulders were slumped and she looked up at Helen with blood shot eyes. Helen sat
beside her, and crossed her legs, making her mother speak first.

“Did you speak to him?”


“Was that it?”

“Yes,” Helen answered again.

“Take me home, Helen. I’m so tired.”

Helen felt a bone deep weariness well up within her, and she put her arm around Amy, who leaned
her body against Helen’s. They walked through the hospital to the parking lot in a semi embrace,
mother and daughter.

Helen drove home, and after her mother had gone to bed, she drew a hot bath. The heat of the
water stung her skin, but she relished the luxurious feel of the silky liquid wrapping around her
body. The brief conversation with her father was not how she had envisioned it would be, but she
refused to let the grief of that linger. She was glad, though, that she had traveled here to see her
father. As Samantha had said, she would have no regrets on her part. He had, at least, given her
that much.

Helen didn’t drain the bathtub until the water had cooled to a chill. She wrapped the plush navy
towel around her thick dark hair, and put on the white sleep shirt she had pulled from her suitcase.
She walked to the telephone in the kitchen and sat in the dark listening to the phone ring. Please
answer Sam, she pleaded into the darkened room.


“Sam. It’s me.”

Sam sighed in relief. “Helen. How did it go, did you see him?”

“Yes, I saw him. We didn’t have much to say to each other,” Helen said in a low voice.

“Oh Helen, I’m sorry. Are you going to see him again tomorrow?” Sam asked with hope still in
her voice.

“No, we said all there was to say. I’ll be home in a couple of days.” Home, she heard herself say,
and knew it was true in so many ways.

“Good,” Sam said with a deep sigh.

Helen frowned. “Is everything ok there? Are you ok?” There was something fragile in Sam’s
voice that alarmed her.

Sam hesitated, and silence filled the miles between them. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

Helen knew something else was there by the uncertainty she distinctly heard in Sam’s voice, but
her mind flashed back to a conversation they had when Sam first heard she was in remission.

Sam had been particularly quiet, and then she had looked up into Helen’s clear blue eyes with
such intensity that Helen stopped all she had been doing. ‘You never make me feel weak.
Everyone I know treats me with such wariness, I begin to feel as frail as they believe me to be.
But you only make me feel stronger...I just wanted you to know that.’

‘I never make you feel weak, because you aren’t,’ Helen stated.

Sam nodded her head in doubt. Then a smile touched the corners of her lips in such innocence
that the beauty of it broke Helen’s heart. ‘You make it easier to believe.’ Helen stared in wonder
at this woman before her, and let a smile form on her lips.

The memory caused Helen’s homesickness to worsen, and she decided to let her questions wait
until she returned. “What are you doing tonight?” was all she asked.

“Heh, I will give you one good guess, but it had better be good.”

“What would Samantha Thomas be doing on a Friday night all alone in her apartment?” Helen
asked out loud. “Would you be painting some sensual, seductive, arousing painting all alone in the

“Oh, I need lots of light for those sort of paintings. Would that be a request?”

Helen laughed in her musical way, and Sam let it soothe the wounds on her soul. Even
unknowingly Helen could relieve the most painful hurts. She let Helen’s gentle voice surround her
like a blanket as she cradled herself on the bed, and the two women so distant in miles yet so close
in spirit talked through the night.


Chapter 7

Helen’s head pounded, and she squinted in the bright morning light. She had fallen asleep in the
bedroom that had once been hers, and as her eyes scanned the room her sleep hazed mind forgot
how old she was. She could almost smell the bacon and eggs her mother had ritually cooked every
morning before sending her off to school. There was no aroma coming from the kitchen this
morning though, and reality hit her with a powerful force. She sat up in the small bed, and grinned
at her ankles which were hanging off the end of the bed. When had she grown so tall, she laughed
to herself.

When she finally managed to get herself out of bed and down the hallway to the kitchen, the
image of her mother sitting alone in the kitchen, smoking a cigarette, sobered her mood instantly.
Her mother had never smoked, and seeing her do so now with bags under her eyes, and new
wrinkles she hadn’t noticed before, troubled Helen beyond her understanding.

“Hey. I think it’s my turn to make you breakfast. Do you have any eggs or bacon?”

Amy nodded, and exhaled a plume of smoke into the air.

“How about cereal or toast?”

Amy pointed to the cabinet where cereal had been kept since Helen could remember. She opened
the small wooden door and saw two boxes, one Cheerios, and the other was Bran Squares. Yuck!
Helen thought to herself. Ok toast it is.

Helen placed a plate of toasted bread in the center of the white kitchen table, and placed a jar of
plum jelly next to it. She spread the jelly on two pieces of the toast, and piled them onto a
separate plate and pushed it in front of Amy, next to the cup of coffee she had already prepared
for herself.

Helen stared at the stale bread smeared with jelly, and decided orange juice would be enough to
see her through the morning. She watched Amy as she sipped at her coffee, and lit a fresh

“I’ll go to United today, and buy some groceries to fill the house. Would you like me to get
anything in particular?” Helen asked seeking to draw her mother into a conversation.

“I won’t need much. He’s not coming back home this time.”

“This time?”

“All the times before, he threatened to leave, and sometimes he would for a few days, but he
always came back. He won’t come back this time,” Amy repeated.

Helen gritted her teeth against the discussion she had been trying to avoid for a week and a half
now. “He threatened to leave you?”

“Oh, many times. He always returned though.”

“And of course you always took him back, didn’t you?” Helen asked, struggling to keep the
bitterness out of her voice.

“Can I tell you something that you probably don’t know?” Amy asked leaning over

Helen nodded.

“I love your father.” She sat back, waiting.

“You must,” Helen managed.

“I always did love your father, and for some reason I found it so easy to forgive him. I don’t ask
you to understand, because I know you won’t. I love that you expect only the best from people,
and I only hope you get it. The only thing I do ask of you is that you don’t hold that one thing
against me.”

“I don...” Helen began, but suddenly she realized that it was true. She had held that one thing
against her mother for nine years.

“All I’ve ever wanted for you is happiness. Are you saying he gave it to you,” Helen demanded.

“Oh Helen, I never looked to him for happiness. I had you for that, and when you left for college,
I still had myself. That was always plenty.”

“Why did you take me away all those weekends?” Helen needed to know.

Amy paused, caught off guard for the first time. “To be with you, and yes, to be away from him.
I’m not trying to convince you that we shared some wonderful relationship. I just need for you to
know that I always had a choice, and that I made it knowing full well what I was doing.”

Helen grieved inside for this woman who had deserved so much more than she had ever received.
Amy was right, Helen would never understand, but in that moment she let go of a little of that
pain she had harbored for so long. She reached out to brush away an errant tear that had fallen
down Amy’s cheek, and she let her hand linger there for a moment, before she pulled it away.

“I love you, Mom,” she whispered.

“Oh, my Helen, I love you.”

* * * * * * *

“I’m going to spend a couple of extra days here, just to help Mom get settled,” Helen said over
the phone the following day.

Sam swallowed her disappointment. “Oh. When will you be flying back?”

“My plane should arrive Thursday morning at ten.”

Sam could hear her heart beat drumming in her head. “Can I pick you up?”

Sam could clearly hear the smile in Helen’s voice as she gently answered. “I would love that.”

Helen and Sam said goodbye, and Sam dropped the cordless phone to the table. “Oh Helen,” she
whispered to the silent room. Her first chemotherapy appointment was scheduled for Wednesday,
and in her endless debate of whether she should continue the treatments, the one belief that kept
her going was knowing that Helen wouldn’t let her go alone. “I should have just told her,” Sam
berated herself. But another thought entered her mind then. Even if she were there, would I still
go for the treatments? She blinked away the moisture that threatened to spill from her eyes.

Samantha stood, pushing aside the dining room chair. She walked down the hallway to her studio.
A blank canvas stood on an easel staring back at her, in the luminescence of the moonlight shining
through the window. Flipping the light switch on, she walked slowly toward her paints, deliberate,
and careful. She poured them out one at a time onto a paper palette, and chose a brush from her
assortment. Her muse left chaotic, foreign images in her mind, and she slashed the paint on the
canvas with a growing fury building in her chest. It ached and it tore, and her breaths began
coming faster and faster. The painting before her became a target for all her grief, her rage, and
her anguish. Moments later she looked to the canvas and found a jumbled assortment of splattered
paint. She slapped at the palette, which sat on a tray, and paint littered the room. Samantha sunk
to her knees, and rolled into a fetal position. She rocked back and forth, and fresh tears spilled
onto the floor, blending with the scattered paint. Moans escaped her hoarse throat, and she beat
twice at the floor with her fist. Why had she dared hope? Why had she let Helen make her
believe? Never again, she told herself. Never again.


Chapter 8

Helen chose a window seat, if only to catch a glimpse of the Blue Mountain Ridge which loomed
purple and ghostly in the distance. She watched as it became small and indistinct from her small
portal. The thought of leaving Virginia behind once again, brought a bitter sweet smile to Helen’s
face. For the first time in her life, she felt settled, and with that revelation a twinge of excitement
flared in her stomach. She felt limitless possibilities open up before her, and in all of them, she saw
Sam. Because of Sam she had gone to Charlottesville, and in doing so, she had gained the family
she felt lost to her all those years ago. Because of Sam she saw beauty even in the simple act of
breathing, and because of Sam she learned to let herself love someone. Oh, how it filled her up to
know there was someone in her life, someone who meant so much.

Time crept past, and finally she saw the airport runway looming in the distance. The plane
touched ground, and she began gathering her briefcase. She followed the line of people out of the
tunnel until she spotted the golden fair head of her friend. Samantha’s eyes warmed when she
spotted Helen, and she walked toward her with quick even steps. Helen’s own smile widened and
she stepped around the people still standing between Sam and herself. Sam plunged ahead, darting
around the other passengers until she reached Helen, where she immediately buried her head into
Helen’s shoulder, and wrapped her arms around her waist. Bewildered, Helen embraced Sam and
held her tightly. Moments later, surrounded by other scenes of welcoming people, Helen pulled
Sam over to a quiet corner, who was still clinging to her.

She held Samantha out at arm’s length by the shoulders and looked into her moist emerald eyes.
“What’s wrong?” she demanded to know.

Sam pulled herself together, and wiped at her eyes. “Nothing’s wrong. I’m glad to see you, that’s
all,” she answered trying to sound convincing.

Helen’s gaze intensified, and Sam knew then that her secret could not be hidden any longer. She
opened her mouth to speak, but Helen spoke first. “I missed you too.” Helen’s eyes softened, and
she released Sam’s shoulders. Sam sighed with relief, and a small laugh bubbled out of her throat.

“How was your trip?” Sam asked cautiously.

“Worthwhile. Thank you for making me go.”

“I never made you go,” Sam argued.

“It was you who convinced me, but I am glad that it’s over,” Helen said as she picked up the bag
she had dropped.

Sam reflected on that, and walked beside Helen as they made their way to the baggage claim area.
Helen looked to Sam, who seemed uneasily quiet. Sam returned her gaze, and Helen
affectionately smiled, and Sam offered a weak smile in reply.

Helen stopped abruptly, and asked, “Sam, tell me, what is it? Something’s wrong, do you think I
can’t tell?”

Sam hesitated, and avoided Helen’s eyes. “One of my designs didn’t go through,” she lied.

Helen sighed in relief. “You’re quite good at getting what you want, I should know. Who’s
blocking the project?”

Sam felt the pain of her deceit well up in her, and she brushed the subject away. “It’s just a
temporary setback. It’s nothing to get upset about. But you know me, I always take it so

Helen switched her bag to the other arm, and placed her free arm behind Sam’s back. “ When is
your last day?”

“One more week.”

“Can the design be completed before then?”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s really not important, Helen.”

Helen felt the tension in Sam’s voice, and let the questions drop. They stopped at the baggage
claim area, and Sam grabbed Helen’s extra suitcase, and led her to the car. “Are you hungry?”
Sam asked once they were on their way.

“I’m starving. I couldn’t find one restaurant that served true Tex-Mex. I am craving some chicken
enchiladas,” Helen answered, already smelling the grilled spicy chicken.

“Mexican food it is.”

Once at the restaurant, Sam’s mood seemed to perceptively brighten before Helen’s eyes. She saw
her face come alight, and her charismatic personality made the dim restaurant glow brighter.
Whatever had been troubling Samantha seemed to have been forgotten, for the time being.

Once they had been seated, Sam asked, “I noticed something earlier.” Helen looked across the
table to the young woman. “You called your mom, Mom.”

Helen laughed, realizing that as well. “We, kind of...well I think we put alot behind us.” Helen’s
mood sobered suddenly, and then she smiled. Sam looked on in wonder at the change in Helen
when she spoke of her mother. Before she would withdraw under hooded eyes at the first mention
of family, but now she spoke with obvious pride of the mother she had found again.

“What was that long story you were going to tell me about why your mother prepares an extra
setting at the dinner table?” Sam asked enjoying having the focus on Helen.

Helen furrowed her brows, then suddenly they shot up with comprehension. “Oh, that.” Helen
laughed. “I don’t know why I’m laughing at that. A week ago, I probably couldn’t have even
brought myself to want to remember that.”

“I’m sorry,” Sam replied. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

“No,” Helen quickly corrected her. “I want to tell you everything. I don’t know why, but there’s
nothing I want to ever keep from you. That’s important to me.”

Sam’s face suddenly went pale, and the guilt building inside of her, crushed her chest and made
breathing difficult. She turned her eyes away from Helen, and took great gulps from the water in
front of her.

“Actually the story isn’t extraordinary, I guess it’s just one of my mom’s quirks. Every night at
dinnertime, she would set three places at the table. One for me, one for her, and one for my father.
Of course most nights, my father didn’t come home until I was already in bed. I noticed that when
we away for the weekend, she still did it. I asked her once if she was expecting my father, but she
said no. She’s done it for as long as I can remember. It’s like she’s eternally waiting for him.”

Sam turned misty eyes on Helen. “And now he’s gone.”

Helen flinched at the rawness in Sam’s words. She saw the emotion there, but misinterpreted it as
sympathy for Helen’s mother. “She’s going to be ok without him, trust me.”

Sam looked stung by Helen’s words, and she amended it by saying, “I wish it were another way,
Sam. But I have to believe that she’s going to be all right.”

Sam nodded, and looked down at the table. “You must have got your inner strength from her.
She’ll be fine,” Sam echoed.

Dinner passed quietly, and when they had finished neither had eaten much. Samantha drove Helen
home, and declined Helen’s offer to come inside. She needed so badly to get home before she told
Helen everything. She drove home feeling numb from the exhaustion of her overwrought
emotions. How could she ever face Helen again with such a deception between them. She’ll find
out soon enough, she berated herself. And then what? She’ll ask me to undergo the treatments,
and I’ll see that look of sorrow in her eyes, and I’ll do whatever she asks of me. She knew it was
true, that Helen would never let her give up. The worst truth of all was that Sam wanted to live so
badly, for herself, for Helen. She was unable to stay in this place, and yet so unwilling to say

* * * * * * *

Helen knew, just as she knew the sky was blue, that something was wrong with Samantha. She
had felt it since their initial meeting yesterday, and her uneasiness swelled within her at every
passing minute. Something wasn’t right. She recalled a conversation she had had with Sam only a
few days ago. What had Sam told her? ‘Call it fate or intuition, but somehow it seems to know
things I don’t.’ Sam’s clear voice rang in her mind.

* * * * * * *

The harsh ringing of the phone echoed off the walls, and Samantha ran to catch it before the
answering machine picked it up.


“Samantha Thomas?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“I’m Dr. Cardell from Travis County Hospital. I show that we had you scheduled for a
chemotherapy appointment Wednesday morning at ten. You never arrived that morning, is that

“That’s correct, “Sam answered, already having prepared for this conversation.

“We’d like to get that rescheduled as soon as possible. In fact, if you’re available this morning
that would be great.” The voice on the other end sounded so optimistic, that Sam wanted to ask
her if he thought he was selling her telephone service, instead of scheduling appointments to be

“No, today’s not good. I’m sorry.”

“Miss Thomas, I need you to understand that the sooner we begin the treatments, the sooner we
can stop the spread of cancer cells in the body. It’s important that you not put this off.”

“I do understand.”

“Listen, why don’t I have Dr. Sigel give you a call this afternoon?”

Sam squeezed her eyes shut, and kept her breathing even. “That’s ok. I’m sure I’ll speak to Dr.
Sigel soon anyway. I’ll give him a call as soon as I get a chance,” she lied. She seemed to be
doing more and more of that lately.

“Please don’t put this off.” Those were his last words as he hung up the phone. He said it so
calmly that Samantha wondered if his patients did this often.

She threw on her blazer, grabbed her leather portfolio, and left her apartment to begin her last
week at Imagine Advertising.

* * * * * *

Helen hadn’t seen Sam in three days, and each time she tried to call her apartment, the answering
machine picked up. She had phoned Imagine, only to be told that Samantha was too busy, and
that the receptionist would be glad to take a message. Only Sam would never return her calls.
Helen’s apprehension had grown to become fear, and she decided to break Sam’s door down if it
should come to that. She drove in front of the Covington Apartment complex, and parked her car.
She looked to the window that she thought should be Samantha’s, and saw a light shining there.
Sam was home.

Helen marched through the hallways, and into the elevator with determination. Once she had
reached the third floor, she turned the corner, and walked to Sam’s door. She knocked on the
door harder than she had meant, and she heard an urgency there that she was struggling to

The door slowly opened, and Sam addressed Helen with a shaken gaze. “Helen...come in.”

Helen walked past Sam, and once she had gotten into the living room, she wheeled around
without a word. She watched as Sam closed the door, and slowly turned to meet her eyes. Helen
recognized the sorrow she saw in Sam’s eyes, but she denied the thought that threatened to come

“I’ve missed you,” was all Helen could manage to say.

“I’m sorry,” Sam responded, and Helen knew by the way she had said it that she meant it for
more than the three days they had spent apart.

“I got concerned.”

“I’m sorry,” she said again.

“What’s wrong?”

Sam dropped her gaze then. “I’m fine.”

“That means you won’t tell me.”

Sam looked up to meet Helen’s intense gaze.

“Why won’t you tell me?” Helen asked as her heart began to rise in her throat.

Sam didn’t move.

“When was your last checkup?” she asked finally, dreading what she might hear.

“A few days ago,” Sam responded numbly.

“What did Dr. Sigel say?” She was on the verge of tears now, and she took deep breaths to
remain calm.

A long moment went by where neither woman broke the silence. They stood with their eyes
locked on the other, and in that moment the truth passed between them. A racking sob escaped
Helen’s throat, and she put her hand out on the wall to steady herself. No, no, no, she screamed
inside. But all that came out were broken sobs.

Sam hadn’t moved, hadn’t spoken. She watched this woman in front of her grieve for someone,
and then it hit her that this person was grieving for her. She finally gave in to the emotion that
threatened to drown her if not released, and she dropped to her knees there in the entry way. She
bent her head, and wrapped her arms around herself. Suddenly she felt two strong arms surround
her, and lift her up. She felt herself being picked up off the ground, and she was cradled by a
warm presence. She surrendered to it’s control, and gave herself over to this closeness. Helen
carried her over to the couch, and sat Sam down. She dropped down to her knees in front of the
young woman, and tilted her chin up, and forced her to look her in the eyes.

“I never want you to have to carry this alone,” Helen declared.

Samantha nodded, and she reached out a soft hand to wipe away the tears on Helen’s cheek. “I’m
so sorry.”

Helen reached out then, and drew Sam to her in a tight embrace. She rocked back and forth, and
said, “Don’t be sorry. Please don’t be sorry.” She didn’t know how many times she had said it
before she finally joined Sam on the couch.

“When is your chemotherapy scheduled for?” Helen asked.

“Helen, I’m going to ask something of you. I know it will be hard for you, but I need for you to
support me now more than ever.”

Helen felt her stomach tighten, and her throat seemed to close.

“Helen, I’m not going in for treatments.” Before Helen could intervene Samantha pressed on.
“Don’t ask me to go, please I’m begging you not to ask me to go.”

Helen began to tremble all over. “How can you ask me to do that? How can you ask me to watch
you die without even fighting this? Didn’t you beat this before?”

“Do you call this beating it?” Samantha asked as she gestured to herself. “We only delayed it. I
don’t want to feel sick anymore, Helen.”

Helen had to turn from Sam, and she gasped for air. No! she screamed again inside. “I’m begging
you, please don’t give up yet.”

It was the moment Sam had feared. She couldn’t deny the pleading expression in Helen’s crystal
blue eyes. She couldn’t tell this woman that she had given up. And it hit her then, she couldn’t
leave this person in front of her without fighting. It wasn’t just that Helen had asked her, it was
that she wouldn’t leave without being able to say, “I did all I could to stay.”

She sank down, with her head on the couch by Helen’s leg. “I won’t give up,” Samantha
promised. Helen wrapped her hands in the golden strands that spilled onto the couch. “We won’t
give up,” she amended, and lay her head back against the sofa. The sunlight had left the room
when she looked down, and saw that Sam’s eyes had closed, and the soft rhythm of her breathing
told Helen she had fallen asleep. She bent over carefully, and pressed her lips against Sam’s
forehead. “Don’t leave me,” she pleaded to the silent room.

Continued - Part 3

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