A Father's Love
By Billy Burrew

Standard Disclaimer:
This story is a work of fiction. The characters that this short story is based on are real enough, but that is where the similarities between the two end. Please allow the words contained within this story to suspend your disbelief for a time and enjoy your reading experience.

Kevin Richardson knelt before the small, newly covered plot of earth at the cemetery, tears streaming out of
his eyes as he looked away from letters on the tombstone and took out the double edged razor from his pocket.
Kevin began to reflect over the events that had brought him to this point, and contemplate the best way to end
his existence.

It had all started just a year after he married his longtime girlfriend. They were so much in love and he was so
happy when she announced that she was with child. He had looked forward to becoming a father since he had
lost his own to cancer in 1991. Kevin pampered his wife and baby for the nine months, getting everything
prepared for his new son to make his debut. When his wife went into labor, Kevin was there, camera in hand, as
he took her to the hospital, and helped her get ready. Kevin stood back and watched as the doctors came in and
began to hook up her IV's and prep her for the operating room. Minutes later, he walked with her into the
delivery room, and began a long period of nervous waiting. Kevin began to get concerned as the doctors crowded
around his wife, giving voice to medical speak in worried tones. Kevin tapped a doctor on the arm and asked
what was wrong. The doctor shook his head and called a nurse in to lead him out the room. A few moments
later, the doctor emerged, shaking his head.

"Mr. Richardson, your wife is having a very difficult delivery. The baby isn't turning correctly and she's losing a
great deal of blood."

"Are they going to be all right?", Kevin asked in a hushed, worried tone.

The door to the Operating Room flew open and a nurse came out and told the doctor that he was needed ASAP.
The doctor shook his head again and looked at Kevin.

"I'll keep you up to date. I don't know just yet."

Three hours later, Kevin heard a squeal and rushed in to the room as the doctor held the baby up and began to
clean the fluid out of its nose and throat.

"It's a boy, Mrs. Richardson!", the doctor smiled, then glanced down at her.

Kevin's wife smiled at the baby and then looked over at Kevin, then breathed her last breath. The delivery had
been too much for her. As her head fell back onto the pillow and her heart rate stopped, the doctor handed the
baby off to the nurse and began to try to revive the mother. Kevin watched in horror as the doctors tried their
best to revive his wife, giving up after several minutes and marking the time of death. Kevin walked up to his wife
and bent down, his tears falling on her closed eyes, as he kissed his beloved wife goodbye.

Kevin sat in the waiting room of the hospital in shock, unable to move. He never budged when Brian, Nick, AJ and
Howie came in and began to hug and console him. A few minutes later, a nurse came over and placed his son in
his arms. Kevin finally moved, looking down at his son, his face a mixture of incredible love and horrible pain.
Kevin brought his son close to his chest and kissed his forehead.

"Kevin", Brian said sadly, "Are you OK?"

"I'm holding my son in my arms, I live only for him now.", Kevin said sadly.

Kevin looked back up to the name on the gravestone, Jerald Timothy Richardson, 2001-2007, beloved son of
Kevin Richardson. As Kevin read the words, he felt a feeling not unlike being punched repeatedly in the gut. He
looked back down to his right hand, which shakily held the razor blade and moved it over his left, bringing it over
and down to touch the skin on his wrist…it was almost time to go now.

Jerald was the shining point in Kevin's life. His happiness and joy infused Kevin with an even greater light than he
had before losing his wife. Kevin was a wonderful father, loving, caring, strict and the perfect role model for his
little boy. Jerald seemed to know when Kevin would begin to reflect on his mother's death and would choose that
time to spend with his daddy and cheer him up.

It was just after Jerald had turned 6 that the problems began to arise. Kevin had to come into Jerald's school and
pick him up almost daily. Jerald had begun to have painful headaches and fainting spells. At first, when it was the
headaches, Kevin brushed it off to the after effects of playground shenanigans, but when Jerald lost
consciousness two weeks later, Kevin began to worry and immediately took Jerald to the doctor. Kevin relayed
what had happened to the doctor and he checked over Jerald, giving him a physical and taking some blood. The
next day, the doctor called Kevin and asked him to bring Jerald into the hospital for some CAT scans.

Kevin's anxiety level reached an all time high when the doctor pulled him aside and sat down with him.

"Kevin…we've gotten some preliminary results from the scan and we've found some cancerous tumors in Jerald's
brain and lymph nodes. It seems his blackouts have been caused by the pressure that these tumors are putting
on his brain. We would like to start him on chemotherapy as soon as possible."

Kevin sat back, his eyes misted over with tears as he remembered his father's death to cancer.

"Do whatever you need to do!"

The doctor placed his arm on Kevin's shoulder, "Son…I have to tell you, his chances are not very good. Even with the chemotherapy, the cancer is so advanced that I can't even give him a 20% chance of survival. I'm so sorry, Kevin."

Kevin put his hands over his face, weeping softly into them as the doctor stood up and opened the door, letting
in Kevin's mother as well as Brian and the rest of the guys. The doctor explained again to them about Jerald's
condition, reiterating his slim odds for survival, then left Kevin with his family.

"What did I do?", Kevin said between sobs, "Why is God doing this to me? First my Dad, then my wife…and now
my son."

Brian put his arms around Kevin and began to cry with him at the impossibility of the situation.

A few weeks later, the doctors reported that the chemotherapy had not been successful. The mass in Jerald's
brain was still growing and had begun to effect the child's motor ability. Kevin listened from outside the room as
his mother sat on the bed with her grandchild, talking and keeping him amused. Jerald stopped laughing a minute
later and asked in a small voice, "MaMaw…I'm not getting any better…I'm gonna leave Daddy for good soon?"

Kevin's mother Anne looked down at her grandchild and nodded, "The doctors say that they can't get you better, and that you might be leaving your Daddy soon. But don't worry Jerald, you'll be meeting your PaPaw soon. And PaPaw will take care of you until you see your Daddy again."

Jerald smiled, "I can't wait to meet my PaPaw, but I am really gonna miss my Daddy. I hope he'll be OK without me. I think my being sick is makin' Daddy all sad…I saw him cryin' the other day when he thought I was sleepin', I don't like to see my Daddy cry."

Kevin slumped to the floor outside his son's room. His sobs wracked his body as he tried to control the anguish
that was ripping his heart to shreds.

Kevin went down to the hospital chapel and knelt in the pew and began to pray.

"Oh God, He who makes all things possible, please hear my prayer. I need a miracle…please don't take my son
from me!"

Kevin bowed his head for a few more minutes than made his way back to his son's room.

Jerald's eyes lit up when he saw his Daddy come into the room and sit beside him on the bed.

"Daddy….MaMaw and I was talkin'…she said that PaPaw was gonna take care of me until I see you again. Don't
be sad. It won't be too long."

Kevin forced a smile thru his tears and nodded

"You'll be in good hands Jerald, your PaPaw was the greatest."

Jerald shook his head and put out his bottom lip.

"No Daddy…you're the greatest. I love you Daddy!"

Kevin bent over and kissed his son on the forehead, "I love you too, Jer."

Kevin watched as his son fell asleep that evening. As he drove home from the hospital, Kevin's cell phone rang.
Kevin answered it and was informed that his son had just passed on. Kevin terminated the call and headed back
to the hospital. When he arrived, Kevin said his final goodbye to his son before the rest of his family arrived.
Brian took Kevin home that night and began a week of standing a "suicide watch" for his cousin.

Kevin surprised everyone when he spoke at the funeral, giving his son an emotional, heartfelt eulogy. Kevin put
his hands over his eyes as they lowered his only son into the ground, for that was something he could not bear
to watch.

The next week Kevin was kept busy by his cousin and his friends as they stayed with him, monitoring his actions
and keeping a close tab on his emotions and moods.

Kevin had gotten up before Brian that morning and eased the car out of the garage and the driveway silently so
as not to wake him. Kevin drove to the cemetery with no doubt in his mind or his heart of carrying through with
his intentions.

As Kevin brought his hand down to make the first slit in his wrists, he heard the sound of Jerald's laughter, and
the low voice of his father. Kevin looked up and started backwards, falling to the ground. He blinked his eyes twice
and saw his father standing beside his son. Both were looking at him and shaking their heads. A second later
Kevin blinked and they were gone. Kevin looked around the ground ands realized that they had taken the razor blade with them.
As Kevin turned back to the gravestone, he heard his father's voice say, "It's not your time yet, Kevin. I'll take
care of Jerald until it is.". Kevin nodded and then smiled as he heard his son's voice, "I love you Daddy!" Kevin
smiled a true smile and said, "I love you too Jerald. I always will."

Kevin turned and walked out of the cemetery, his grief, his fears and his suicidal thoughts sponged from his mind. As he
drove away from the cemetery, he smiled as the radio began to play a song, it seemed, just for him.

I got sent home from school one day with a shiner on my eye.
Fightin' was against the rules and it didn't matter why.
When dad got home I told that story just like I'd rehearsed.
And then stood there on those tremblin' knees and waited for the worst.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

When I became a father in the spring of '81
There was no doubt that stubborn boy was just like my father's son.
And when I thought my patience had been tested to the end,
I took my daddy's secret and I passed it on to him.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
he said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
he said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."*


*A Love Without End, Amen
-Aaron Barker

Thanks for reading this story! To read more, just stop by my website: http://www.geocities.com/billy_burrew
Questions? Comments? Email Me! billy_burrew@yahoo.com


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