Mommy? Daddy? Where are you? Why is it dark in here?

A small whimper left my chapped lips, and immediately I heard footsteps approaching. Soon after, I felt a warm hand placed on my cold one.

"Gigi? Baby?" my mom asked in a low voice, as if she was afraid to wake me up.

My eyes fluttered a few times and then opened up slowly. I found myself facing mom. She was tired and….sad? But still, she was smiling.

Why are you sad, mommy, I wanted to ask her, but couldn't. I didn't have the strength anymore, even to speak. All I could do was whimper. But, somehow, my family always knew what I needed at the moment.

Mom was speaking again. "You are thirsty, sweetie. Here, have some water," and she scooped me in her arms. Very gently, she helped me take a few sips of water.

Shaking my head, I let myself rest in her arms. From this position, I had a nice view outside the giant sliding door. It was a nice, cool evening. A small breeze was blowing, and all the plants and flowers on the veranda were swaying along. How I wished I could go out and play like I used to do before…before I got sick.

"I wanna go outside, mom," I breathed, startling my mom. She stared at me with watery eyes.

"Oh, baby," she choked. "Well…it's still cold outside, and you are sick," she stammered a little. "Let's wait until tomorrow. Maybe the weather is better tomorrow…" she trailed off.

"Outside.." I whined. I had missed being outside. I used to be up and running, mischievous and energetic. But, ever since I got sick, everything had changed. I could play no more. I was always in the hospital, lying on a stiff bed, prodded and poked endlessly. I had been cut open too many times, I had been given too many medications, I was fed up.

But my parents wouldn't listen. "It's for your own good," they would say every time we had to go to the hospital. "We know you don't like it, but we just want you to get well." And I wanted to get well, so I did whatever the doctors said.

But, when would I get better? It had been a while since my last treatment, and I kept feeling worse every damn minute. I felt weak, dizzy, my limbs and joints ached too much. My stomach felt funny and my appetite was nonexistent. I could hardly keep water down. God, I am so tired…I just want this to end.

"God….why are you torturing me like this? I can't take it anymore…." I whispered, my eyes shutting on their own. I was feeling strange. Darkness was all around me, but I could still hear my mom's voice next to my ear.

"Baby, it's ok. Mom is here. You are in my arms, nobody's gonna take you away from us. I love you, daddy loves you," she was sobbing now. "Stay with us, Gigi..don't leave us…" she cried, my heart breaking in a million pieces.

Don't cry, momma, please.

"George," she called at my dad, "Nikki, Dittie, come here now! It's Gigi…" she broke down.

Dad? Nikki? Dittie?

I felt warm hands pressed on my body, and I knew my dad and my sisters were near me now, talking to me, though I couldn't understand what they were saying, since they were all talking at the same time. And then, there was silence, and someone squeezed my hand.

"Gigi," my daddy was talking now, "it's dad. I am so sorry you had to suffer like this. We never wanted to see you in pain. You were always so brave, enduring so much like the brave little girl you are." Now he was crying too.

"But, enough is enough. You don't have to fight anymore. You can go now, be free from this pain. Remember I love you, always…" and gave me a kiss.

I could still not feel my body, but, curiously enough, it didn't seem heavy like before. I felt like I was floating in a warm, fuzzy sea. I felt like I was a small boat in a river, held by ropes on my arms and legs. And, suddenly, my daddy's words snapped one of these ropes.

"Gigi," that was Nikki," I am sorry too. I wish there was something I could do to take your pain away. Fly away, little girl….I love you, little sister…." she cried softly.

SNAP! There goes another one….

"I love you, I will miss you.." was all Dittie managed to say, before bursting in tears.

SNAP! Another one….I am ready to go now…

Mom was the last one to speak. "Oh, baby," she cried defeated, "don't leave me! I am not ready to let you go.."

"Betty!" my father yelled angrily through his tears. "It's time. Let her go, please….she has suffered enough. We have done everything in our power, to no avail. God wants her with him….He misses his angel…." He broke down again.

Mom tightened her arms around me, and remained silent for a few minutes.

Let me go, mom..please….

And she did.

"Gigi," her voice was quivering now, "I am sorry for being so selfish. Dad is right….God does miss his angel, because that's what you really are. A beautiful angel."

"Go, baby. Leave all this pain behind you. Uncle Bill is waiting up there for you. Give him our love, tell him we miss him terribly. Remember to always hold his hand, and watch out for us down here," she pressed her lips on my forehead. "I love you…"

SNAP……

I was free…. I was floating down the river, slowly, and I was feeling content. I felt no more pain, I forgot all about being sick and hospitals and doctors. I was…happy.

Suddenly, I reached the shore and I was looking at the most amazing landscape I had ever seen. There were puppies and bunnies and deers. I could see a gazebo and a fountain in the back, between the evergreen trees. And I could also see people there walking or sitting on benches, talking to each other.

I want to play with the bunnies. I have to get out of the water.

But I couldn't. It was too slippery, I kept falling into the water again and soon I was tired. But as I was about to give up, I heard a familiar voice.

"Gigi! You are here! Let me help you."

I looked up and grinned like a cat. "Uncle Bill!" I squealed.

He picked me up easily. "Hello, baby girl." He gave me a sad smile.

"You came after all. I wish you hadn't..." he paused, staring at me. "But, He knows better.." He kissed the top of my head, and started walking towards the puppies.

"How is everybody, Gigi?" Uncle Bill asked me. I put my little arms around his neck and rested my head on his shoulder.

"They sent their love to you, miss you like crazy….But," I paused, "they will be fine…in time…."

"Yes," he agreed. "In time….."