A/N: Hello there to all you readers out there. This was just an idea that came to me one day and I thought I should give it a try. I'm a little nervous about this one, mainly because there are a lot of people out there who flat out don't like stories like this, especially ones involving a favorite character dying. So please if you don't want to read this then don't read. And if you do read it and leave a negative review, please do so kindly. If this story does not work out well, I will take it down. Other than that please enjoy, I plan on making it about fifteen chapters.
Also I would like to thank Bdlywrttn for suggesting the name of the story and for reading over this first chapter. You rule!
Disclaimer: I do not own the Simpsons.
Edit: If you have read this chapter before, you will probably notice some differences, that's because I fixed a few things. If you haven't then enjoy. If you want the original just ask, I still have it on file.
Marge Simpson paced back and forth along the hall of the hospitals cancer wing, while her children sat silently next to aunts Patty and Selma. All were too afraid to speak and all were hoping and praying that Homer would be saved.
It was the fifth time in three months since Homer was sent to the hospital, his health was deteriorating rapidly and no one knew how much longer he could take the pain. He hadn't been himself for almost two years now and it was all thanks to working at the nuclear power plant.
It was an explosion that caused it, and surprisingly it was not Homer's fault. Many employees got out safely but as many as one hundred of those employees were not so lucky and were overexposed to the dangerous chemicals that the explosion had caused. Twenty of those employees lost their lives in only a few weeks, while others, like Homer, were soon given the worst diagnoses possible. Cancer. For many it would only be a year before the cancer took hold of them. While for some, they would be lucky if they even reached past five years. Homer had been given a year but so far he had beaten the odds by an extra year, but another year seemed very unlikely.
Because of what happened, the case was sent to court and Mr. Burns was blamed for causing the meltdown thanks to many health violations. It was a quick court case too, many believed that the plant was never safe to begin with and after only a year of legal battles, the court found Burns guilty. He and other owners of the plant would have to help pay all medical expenses for the cancer patients and if the person died, then he would have to give the grieving families, if they had one, as much as five hundred thousand dollars. Of course this would mean that by the time Burns retired, if that was ever possible, he would be flat broke. But no one cared about that happening, Burns deserved it and to many he could rot in hell.
But money was something Marge did not care for at the moment, all she cared about was Homer, and the hope that the cancer would disappear somehow. She did not care how; she just wanted her husband back.
It was hard for the kids to cope with too; they rarely saw their father out much. Poor Maggie, who was now three, barely even knew him now because of it, and Marge worried that she would grow up never knowing who her father was.
Marge let the tears fall down her face as she walked down the hall, she had been through so much with him and now only a miracle could save Homer from what he was going through. Marge just wanted to turn back time, make Homer not go to work that day. Then he would not be dying, instead they would be sitting on the couch watching a wonderful movie about love and happiness.
"Mrs. Simpson," Dr. Hibbert's voice called out to her.
Marge turned around and saw Dr. Hibbert walking toward her, she hoped it was good news like the last four times in which Dr. Hibbert said "He's gonna be okay for now, we'll start him on stronger treatments and hopefully we won't see you again too soon."
But Marge could sense that this response was going to be different, his face was very tired looking and his head was hung low. "What is the news?" she asked her voice hoarse from crying so much.
Dr. Hibbert sighed and turned to the kids who were listening intently. Quietly he moved Marge farther down the hall so as not to upset the kids. Not yet any way. He stopped a little ways off, enough to keep his voice down and hard of hearing. He looked at Marge for a moment before letting out a heavy sigh.
"It's bleak Mrs. Simpson, we tried all we could but his body just wants to shut down, …I'm afraid he won't last the night," he finally said.
Marge stared into Dr. Hibbert's eyes, hoping it was only a joke that he sometimes did just for the fun of it, but this time only seriousness remained and before Marge knew it she was clutching Dr. Hibbert's coat and crying her heart out.
"I'm so sorry Mrs. Simpson, you've been through so much and watching you all lose the battle makes me wish I could make a difference," said Dr. Hibbert who seemed to be getting all misty eyed himself.
Marge looked down the floor and let the tears flow for a moment before looking up at Dr. Hibbert with pitiful eyes.
"Will I still be able to see him?" she asked when she finally got the courage to speak.
"He is awake right now and was asking for you and the kids, though how long he will remain in the conscious state is unknown," said Dr. Hibbert as he patted Marge on the shoulder hoping to comfort her a little.
"Can I stay with him until he…," Marge stopped right there, she could not bring herself to saying the most horrific D word, let alone say it in front of the kids who had now wandered over to find out what was going on.
Dr. Hibbert stared at the kids; he really did not like it when kids were around during their parents' worst times. He had seen many children have problems after seeing their parents go into cardiac arrest or other terrible things. "You may, but I would suggest the children go home with someone else after they say goodbye, they have seen enough these past two years with him," said Dr. Hibbert.
Marge nodded and turned to her kids. Lisa stared at her mother for a moment before bursting into tears and hugged her brother tightly. Bart let his sister cry on his shoulder while he tried his hardest not to cry himself. Maggie only watched them still not sure what was going on.
"We tried our hardest kids, now it's time to let go, are you all okay with seeing him and then going home with Patty and Selma?" asked Marge as her sisters walked over. They had been with Marge that afternoon when they noticed that something was definitely not right with Homer. They called the hospital, who brought an ambulance right over. Patty and Selma knew that Marge was in no state to drive to the hospital so they kindly helped her and picked up the kids along the way.
It was the least they could do, after all, they had given Homer hell for many years, and seeing their brother-in-law in such a state made them feel terrible. They wanted to say sorry to him and they knew the best way to do so was to help save his life and bring Marge to see him.
"That's okay with me, I want to see my Dad alive one last time, not…dead," said Lisa, her voice almost sounding like Marge from all the crying she had done.
"Me too," said Bart with a heavy sigh. He had been the bravest throughout all of this and he kept his emotions tight. When he did cry though it was usually by himself in his room thinking about what might happen and if he would be able to play ball with his dad again in the backyard. Now the chances of that were very slim.
"I want to see Daddy," said Maggie as she asked Marge to pick her up.
"And you will, we just need to make sure your aunts are okay with this," said Marge as she looked at her sisters hoping they would not mind helping once again.
"Yeah the kids don't need to see their father slowly melt away, we'll keep them until you get back," said Patty.
"I also know a way to keep the kids from thinking about their father while we are together too," said Selma.
"Thank you so much, I'm glad I have you two around," said Marge as she hugged her sisters tightly.
Finally once the decision was made, Dr. Hibbert led the family into the room. Patty and Selma decided to stay outside knowing that it was the families last time together and they did not want to impose.
They entered to find a nurse still in the room, she was just finishing her job of helping Homer spend his last few hours in comfort by adding enough fluids to the IVs and making the pillows soft enough. She quickly exited before the family came closer.
The family was not surprised by what they saw of Homer, he had been in his state for more than a year now. Because of the cancer, he did not eat as much and was very thin now, so thin in fact that according to the records he had lost almost seventy-five pounds. His face had sunken in making his cheekbones protrude out a bit more, and his eyes were dark from exhaustion even though he had been put on bed rest. One arm had two IV's sticking in him, and there was an oxygen tube inserted into his nostrils to help him breathe easier. In fact he had been using an oxygen tank for the past five months, helping him breathe and move about without too much trouble. He also had heart monitors attached to his chest letting everyone know that his heart rate was slowing down.
Marge grabbed a chair in the corner and pulled it up next to Homer, his eyes were closed and he had not stirred when they entered. Carefully she held his hand and put it up next to her face, while the tears fell down freely. After a few moments, Homer opened his eyes and slowly turned to Marge, he looked at her for a few seconds before giving her a weak smile.
"Hi Honey," he said his voice low and weak.
"We're here for you Homie," Marge said sadly.
"The kids too?" Homer asked as he tried to lift up his head to see them.
"The kids too," said Marge as she motioned Bart, Lisa and Maggie closer to their father.
Bart was first to make his way over, even though they had many close calls before, he was still very nervous about approaching his father. He felt terrible for him ever since they found out he was diagnosed, but he did not know things could get any worse until these last five month. From sudden complications, respiratory infections that included a very bad case of Pneumonia two weeks ago, and near death experiences, it was very frightening. As he got closer, he could hear his father's labored breathing, and many times before when he visited his father in the hospital he knew things would be alright. This time though, he knew things would not turn out that way.
"Hey son," said Homer quietly.
"Hey Dad," said Bart.
"Dad! I love it when you say that… it makes me feel good… so much better than you calling me by my first name," said Homer.
"I know, I'm just trying to make things sound okay," said Bart with a sigh, he tried to be strong through all this and it was rare to see him cry. He was holding it in the best he could at the moment, he wanted to show his father he could handle this.
Homer noticed this and was about to respond when he went into a heavy coughing fit. Marge jumped up and helped him sit up so he would not choke to death. Once his throat cleared, Marge helped him settle back down on the pillow. Homer closed his eyes and gave a deep sigh that rattled his lungs. Bart watched him for a moment, but he did not say anything.
"Dad?" Bart called worriedly; afraid Homer would die right in front of him.
Homer did not respond right away, his eyes stayed closed for a little while longer before he slowly opened them again and stared at his son in the eye.
"You know you have to be the man of the house now right?" asked Homer.
Bart stared at his father; he hated conversations like this because he knew he would shed a few tears. He wanted to talk about the good times he had with his father, like catching baseballs, fixing the statue of Jebidiah Springfield's head, and even joining the boy scouts and going on that fun rafting adventure. But his emotions finally got the better of him, and he tried not to show it by scrunching up his face, but they finally had to come out. Bart then burst into tears and rushed forward to hug his dad as tightly as he could without hurting him.
"…Oh Dad!' cried Bart through his father's hospital gown, "I don't want you to leave us."
"I know son, I don't want to either …but some things can't be stopped," said Homer who only put one arm around Bart, the other was still being held by Marge and he did not want to let go. He wanted to feel her warm hands until his final moments of life, that was all that mattered to him.
"Daddy looks sleepy," Maggie suddenly cried out. Bart turned to his little sister and gave her a sad smile, he was glad she didn't know what was going on, it was better that way.
"Yes Maggie, Daddy is not feeling well," Marge replied.
"Can Daddy hold me?" asked Maggie.
Marge looked at Homer who nodded; he had to hold his youngest daughter one last time. Marge set Maggie down at the edge of the bed and Homer looked into her sweet tiny eyes. Maggie only stared back, she knew that her father was sick but she had no idea why, Marge had only told her that her daddy wasn't feeling well and it was hard to get him to feel better. She had even seen him fall once and it was not a pleasant sight for her to witness and she believed that Homer was too fragile to touch except on the nose which she quickly did.
"Are you trying to steal my nose Maggie?" asked Homer.
"Boop!" was all she said as she touched it for a second time.
Homer smiled and did not motion for Marge to take her away; he wanted her with him for a little while longer. She was so young, and it was so depressing to think that she barely even knew her own father.
"You've grown up so fast Maggie, I wish I was there to watch you and play with you," said Homer.
"You can play with me, when we go back home we can have a tea party in bed with cookies and cake and everything!" exclaimed Maggie as she flailed her hands at the same time with excitement.
Homer looked back at her sadly, she really had no idea, but how do you explain death to a three year old? Their minds don't work like others do, to Maggie, Homer was just sick and it was taking a lot of medicine just to get him to feel better again. Homer let out a heavy and pained sigh before hugging Maggie tightly. As he did so, he could hear sobbing at the front of his bed. Homer looked over Maggie's shoulder and saw Lisa standing there looking down at the floor, tears flowing freely. He could tell she was trying her hardest to be brave but she had been through so much with him now everything felt hopeless.
"Come over here Lisa," Homer called.
Lisa looked up sadly before slowly making her way over to her father; tears were still falling freely as she looked at his sad shape. Usually when her father was sent to the hospital, she would bring her saxophone along to play something for him while he rested. But because of the circumstances this afternoon, Lisa did not have any time to grab what she needed. Lisa's playing had improved in the past two years and now she was already selected to be the highest chair in the upcoming school year. Homer had actually enjoyed hearing music from her, it didn't sound loud and annoying any more, but softer and filled with energy.
"Where's your saxophone?" asked Homer.
"I left it, I didn't have time to bring it," said Lisa.
"Awww, I would have loved to have heard a piece by you… one more time," said Homer as he slowly stroked Lisa's bangs out of her eyes.
"I know you would have Dad, I would have played Lover Lay Down by The Dave Matthews Band for you, I've gotten really good at that one," said Lisa wiping her eyes to keep the tears from falling so much.
"I would have liked that one," said Homer.
"I haven't perfected it yet though, maybe one day," said Lisa as she looked down at her shoes and played with her fingers. She really did not want to say goodbye, not now when there was still some growing up to do. Homer seemed to realize this and slowly, he lifted her chin up so they were eye to eye. Lisa stared back at her father and quickly let all the tears fall before hugging her father one last time like Bart did. Lisa was about to pull away but Homer had one more thing to say to her.
"You need to be brave Lisa, I know you can keep everyone in order even without me, you can do it Lisa. Don't ever give up," said Homer before going into another coughing fit. Again Marge helped him and she knew that Homer was using all his strength up just by talking to them. Bart and Lisa seemed to sense this as they both backed away.
"Should we go now, Mom?" asked Lisa once Homer stopped coughing.
"Yes kids, go find your aunts, I will call you before I come home," said Marge.
Lisa picked up Maggie and walked out the door while Bart looked back at his father one last time. Homer only smiled and gave him a short wave before closing his eyes to rest. Bart wiped a single tear off his face and followed his sister down the hallway. Marge watched them go before she heard Homer calling to her.
"Marge," he called softly.
"Yes Homer?" asked Marge as she jumped up, ready to help him if he needed anything.
"Where are they going?"
"Home, we thought it would be better that way,"
"But you're staying right?"
Marge looked down at Homer; he looked back at her with hopeful eyes, hoping they were what he wanted to hear. It was now starting to hit her too, the realization that he would be gone within hours, all the fighting and all the praying for him to survive was a total loss. There was nothing left to do but stay beside him. Just seeing him looking up at her like that with sadness in his eyes made Marge burst into tears.
"Of course, I'm staying with you to the very end," she sobbed.
Homer looked up at Marge and saw the tears in her eyes. He hated seeing her cry, of course she had done a lot of it lately and there was nothing he could do to stop it, only comfort her as much as he could even in his weakened and poor state.
"Don't cry for me Marge, I know it's hard… but try to stay strong," said Homer as he tried to wipe her tears away.
"But I feel so useless watching you die like this," said Marge.
"Don't feel that way, you are with me and that's all that matters …it helps ease the pain," said Homer as he let out another heavy and labored sigh that soon sent him on another coughing fit.
Marge knew that him talking like this was not making things any better. She knew he wanted to say goodbye to her properly but the more he was straining to talk to her, the more he was starting to cough, and his lungs were not as strong as they used to be.
"Then as long as I am here, you don't need to talk, just rest," said Marge.
"There'll be plenty of time for that later though," said Homer with a small chuckle.
Marge gave Homer a concerned smile. He sure knew how to make light of the situation when he wanted to, it was a good thing though at least he was trying to stay positive even though the outlook was bleak.
"I've always liked the way you stayed optimistic through things like this, you never wanted to give up. I'll miss that the most from you, it's going to be hard for a long time without you."
"But don't forget that clichéd line said in movies…books…songs…and whatever else has a good way to emphasize drama. I will always be with you…even when I am not around," said Homer.
At the sound of those words, Marge let the tears flow freely again, she could understand why the kids had to leave, it was so hard to see someone you love die right in front of you. There was no way you could help; you could only be there for them in their last hours, hoping and praying that something could change their outcome and that they would live to see the sun rise.
Homer did not say any more after that, he knew Marge was right about straining too much to talk. As long as she was beside him, or somewhere in the room, that was alright with him. Finally after about an hour, Homer fell asleep, Marge decided to get up and walk around in the room for a bit, mostly to wake up her arm after holding Homer's hand for so long. Sometimes she would stare out at the window, watching the rain fall outside. It covered the windows and little drops would flow down them as if someone else was crying for them.
The hours ticked by, and it was very early in the morning when Homer slipped into unconsciousness. His heart rate lowered and Marge could feel his grasp slowly slip from her hand, but Marge tried to ignore that as she still held his hand and waited for any sign to see if his heart rate would suddenly go up and he would awaken again so she could talk to him one more time.
Finally at three forty-three, Marge watched as his heart rate began to lower more rapidly. Marge still held his hand but knew he would barely notice as his unconscious body began to slip away into death. Finally at three fifty-two, Homer gave out one more heavy sigh before the heart monitor flat lined. Marge waited for a moment hoping to see one more sign of a heartbeat or even a twitch in his fingers. Nothing came, only the high pitched sound of the monitor letting everyone know that there was a dead heart.
Dr. Hibbert ran into the room and saw Marge staring at her husband before she leapt forward and held her husband in her arms, crying her heart out over the person she had loved since high school. Dr. Hibbert only watched as he began to cry himself, the nurses came in but he told them to wait a little longer to let Marge have her peace.
Homer Simpson, the man almost everyone knew in Springfield, had lost the battle with cancer and had now quietly passed away.