The People, Places, Events, History, Businesses, and Music of Upstate SC

The Last Thanksgiving | Short Story | Fiction USA, LLC

The dreary and cold weather always got to me, it was just the lack of sunshine that
seemed to drag away my happiness. Everything else about November had my attention, cuddling
and reading a book around a warm fire, or relaxing around a bonfire with my family. This
particular November during Thanksgiving, I learnt what it meant to be a kind and appreciative. I
finally understand what it is like to lose the most important person in your life. Whether it’s
through, betrayal or simply growing apart. In my case, it was neither. I lost my heart, my soul
and my mind in this tragedy. I live my life now appreciating the ones around me, just a glimpse
of their smile makes me happy. I now know that I should have appreciated the days when she
was around, the times when she held my hand, or simply singing along to music in the car with
me, she gave me the best times of my life and I never once lived in the moment. Now I cannot
live with the fear of losing anyone else around me because that sadness can only be compared to
death itself.

The day came when I would lose her, it was Thanksgiving day, I woke with another
ungrateful mindset of life. I was not thinking about the fact I had a roof over my head, shoes on
my feet, clothes on my back, phone in my hand, water in my bath. I took all the simplest things
for granted, now I smile at the littlest things because the littlest things make life the best. As I
rose from my bed with the scent of morning breath trailing from my lips, I stared at the ceiling
and dreaded spending time with my family. Not because they are horrible people, but because
being with them drained my energy, drained my liveliness. I walked miserable to the bathroom
and took a long shower. As the water drained off my body, I thought about how warm it felt.
Now as a look back at that simple moment of taking a shower I realize that there are so many
without water and without the ability to take a shower. It never came to my mind to conserve the
water or appreciate so much water, while some nations don’t have the privilege of water.

I stepped out of the shower with the steam of the water vapor in the air, the mirrors were
fogged. I stood in front of the vanity and swept my hand across the mirror to erase the
condensation. I stared at my naked body and immediately looked away, for I was ashamed of the
chubby rolls of my body. Each curve of my body was followed by cellulite or a scar from my
days of playing softball. My face was asymmetric, my eyes droopy from spending all night
scrolling through my social media. My mouth looked dry and unappealing to kiss, my entire face
looked emotionless because I never smiled, or laugh as much I should. I think about this moment
after my epiphany and I cringe at the fact that I denied my appearance. I denied the privilege I
had of being able to look at my body, the flaws. While some people lack sight. I denied the
privilege of being able to smile. It is these trivial moments and parts of myself I learned to
appreciate and love throughout my difficulties.

I grabbed the towel from the rack, dried my body and threw on some ragged clothes
sitting on the floor next to my bed. I dragged myself to the kitchen. There was a bright light
emitting from the cracked window. The light reflected the amber leaves and the gentle cold
breeze brushed against my skin as I hurried to close the window. I sighed as the cold air always
seem to make me angry. I avoided talking to my mom because she was too busy organizing the
pantry. I grabbed an apple from the plate on the granite counter and opened the refrigerator
slowly as not to alert my mom of my presence. I gazed at the options and grabbed a small orange
juice box. I closed the fridge and glanced around at my mom and smiled at her behind sticking
out from under the pantry, she was bent over humming her favorite Christmas carol, Jingle Bells.

I reminisce on this moment and tears always fall from my eyes. I have always cherished
my mother and I have no idea what life would be without such a strong and passionate woman
such as herself in my life. She loved me for nine months without even knowing what I would
look like, she wiped my face when I cried, she held my hand when I was scared, she bathed me
when I was dirty. All my life I have known love because she gave it to me. The events that
transpired this day influenced my life in every way possible. It gave me gratitude, it gave me
thankfulness. And as I write the words of this story, I reflect on who my mother is. The kind,
sensitive woman who gave me life, who loved me when I was disrespectful. I love her because
of her sacrifices most of all, she gave up her own life to give me mine and I will forever be in her
debt, I will forever love her. And it is around this time of the year when I realize that family
matters. It was this Thanksgiving that I found and understood the love of life- my family.

I left the kitchen, walked through the living room to my sister’s room. She laid on her
bed, her long black hair spread across the white cotton sheets. She smiled at me as I entered. She
tried to stretch her hand towards me to touch my arm, but her IV restricted her. She was to me,
the purest and most good-natured human I have ever known. Her face was pale but beautiful, her
skin was bruised but magnificent. While she was entering this world, there was severe damage
made to her spinal chord, and she was paralyzed from the waist down. But she tries every day to
feel some movement in her legs, she hits herself with her toys to feel pain. There is no hope of
her ever feeling anything again, but she still tries. Her entire body is frail. She was born
premature and still needs to be hooked up to the IV. She believes that someday, somehow she
will be able to walk around and play like normal kids. I stared into her eyes, she could barely
keep them open, but no matter how delicate her body was, she always tried to show her best
smile. I gazed upon her beauty and returned her smile. She never talks and if she does it is
inaudible grunts. She knows very little words because most of her life she has been in and out of
hospitals and has never been to school. My family has always been her only means of learning
and getting information. And as I stared at her body and her shriveled smile, tears welled in my
eyes. I often wanted to give her my own life, my own body, if I could. I would give to her what
God gave to me, a life of immense privilege, school, and rebellion.

These moments that I spent with her gave me the best parts of my younger days. She was
my only thought, my only love, my only life. I look back and I will forever live my life the way
she did. I will forever be the type of kind and appreciative human being she was. As the day
turned into evening, I could hear my mother rustling in the kitchen and calling people on the
phone making decisions on what to cook and who should bring what food. I refused to help out
because I wanted to stay with my sister. It was always peaceful in her room. The curtains would
shuffle as the heat from the vent touched their feet. The air smelled of baby food and cleaning
supplies. These scents were my home away from home. The room was bright yellow with a sun
painted on the ceiling, the color was fading. The white dressers to the side of the window
matched perfectly with the white carpet on the floor. Her room was calming, it was the best room
in the house in my opinion. The closet was small because she didn’t have a lot of clothes; she
worn mostly pajamas and socks. There was a small desk in the far corner of the room, it had
coloring books and books about the alphabet and shapes scattered on it. I thought of the
redundancy of teaching a dying child so much of the world for she will never experience it.
Thoughts like these crossed my mind frequently, these thoughts were the only way I could cope
with not being able to help her, to teach her how to walk, run or skate. I hated myself because I
could never hate her or my mother for making her the way she is. I looked for someone to blame,
so I blamed myself. I hate myself for her pain. I believe a stupendous life was taken from her,
she could have been the greatest human to ever walk this earth, she could have been anything
and everything, but she was robbed of her chance to be anything. These were the thoughts that
crossed my mind that Thanksgiving. I wasn’t excited for the food or for spending time with my
family. I was rather focused on my sister’s feelings, how she felt, how she could possible smile
when she had no reason to. She was given a unadvantageous life, yet she lived it to the fullest.
She couldn’t eat, yet she ate till she was full. She couldn’t smile, yet she grinned to the ends of
her cheek. She was brave and I learned from that bravery, I learned from her pain to appreciate
everything in my life. From the rays of the sun to the coolness of the air. I learned to live with
my sister and it was only through her demised I realized the actual worth of life and living.

It was evening and the house slowly became noisier. Family members from all around
started to gather at our house. I could hear cars parking, gifts crumpling and greetings being
made from the inside of the room. I spent all day sitting with her, not making a sound, but simply
admiring her outstanding capabilities to live a life that was barely her own. It was almost time for
dinner and I had to bathe her and then myself. I started a bath carefully filling the tub with the
right amount of water, and making sure it was warm enough. I removed her IV and stripped her
of her clothes, being careful not to be too harsh on her gentle skin. I frowned at the bruises on her
body, it sickens me to witness her in this state. I can never bear to see her body, but I had to. I
had to be as brave as she was. I carried her naked body to the tub, her body light and bony. I laid
her softly in the tub and she squeezed my hand gently to convey her appreciation. I wrapped her
hair in a bun, so it wouldn’t get wet. I reached for her special washcloth; it was her favorite. It
was shaped like a sun with little silky rays of sunshine stemming from the round cushion of its
base. I applied soaps and caressed her body. I was always careful, although she could not feel
when I touched her, I made sure to be gentle. She never got angry or irritated when I touched her
body, she was rather happy and seemed soothed by my touch. I brushed my hand against her face
and smiled at her. She looked into my eyes and it’s as if I could see her entire universe because
of how kind her eyes were. I quickly finished bathing her wrapped her in a wool blanket. I
carried her to the bed and put her in clean pajamas. I looked for the best one because I wanted to
make her presentable for the family. I lotioned her skin and gently leaned her head against the
pillow. I kissed her cheek then left to go take a bath of my own.

I hurried to my room, hopped in the shower and hopped right out. As I looked for clothes to wear
for our gathering downstairs I realized that my sister would love the clothes I wear. Although I
am not the happiest person, my clothes are brightly colored and glittery. For a sixteen-year-old,
my sense of style was that of a seven-year-old. It was at this moment I realized that I choose
clothes not suited for my self, but clothes she would like. Most of my clothes were yellow, her
favorite color. I smiled at myself, I was trying to live for her because she couldn’t live for
herself. I rummaged through my closet and found a dress that reflected her exact personality. I
ironed it and put it on. I looked at myself in the mirror, a tear fell to the ground. I wiped it
quickly and hurried back to her room. It was empty when I pushed the door open. My mother
had already moved her into the living room with my extended family. I shuffled passed everyone
without greeting them and sat beside her. I laid my hand next to hers to make her aware of my
presence. As I sat on the sofa, I glanced around the room. From where I sat, the room was dim.
The lamps gave off a dark yellow light, giving the room a gloomy feel. I looked up at my sister,
not surprised at the wide curve of her lips, she was smiling at everyone. She was radiating the
room with her presence. I sat with her in silence observing the way she watched everyone. With
each new face she looked at, she smiled brighter. Tears formed in her eyes and I wondered why
she would be crying simply by looking at these people she barely spend time with. And because I
am older now I know that it was not the people she was smiling at, it was the affection in the

Thanksgiving is when families from all over come together to spend time with each
other. There are often kids running around, adults chatting and it’s spectacular. Having a family
to be around and cherish is a spectacular opportunity. Family is everything. Because of this
holiday and because of her I looked closely at Thanksgiving not as just a turkey holiday, but as a
simple occasion of being with my loved ones, and being thankful for them. They have helped to
shape me into becoming the woman that I am. It was these moments and these special
Thanksgivings that I learned to love and be grateful for the food on my table and the family in
my house. I realized she wasn’t just smiling at the faces of our families but she was observing
the way they acted around each other. They were comfortable, they were calm and they showed
passion. They were bonding. This is how amazing family is around this time of the year. Family
being together, talking about problems, reminiscing on adolescence, this is what makes family
family. These small moments are what she was smiling for. She knew at a very young age to
appreciate those around her, she was never taught that it was just always apart of her. She
appreciated her family in ways I could never have, she loved them in ways I could never
imagine. She was the small light that shined during our dinner on that Thanksgiving day.

After the meal was cooked and placed on the table, we said a prayer and began our feast.
The food was delicious and perfectly seasoned. I ate very little that night because I felt inclined
to eat as much as my sister, which is very little. As she sat around the table she was humming the
tune to twinkle twinkle little star. It was odd because she rarely ever talks, nevertheless sings or
hum. But I realized at the moment she was happy, she was humming because we were together
as a family. Happy to see our family together around this massive table. As a gazed to the edge
of the table I was filled with great joy also.

It came to my mind that this was my family, that these people at the table loved me
regardless of how I act or how much trouble I get into. These people around this table will
always be there for me. These people chose to help me, chose to love me unconditionally. These
people will grow old with me and never leave me. These people at this table are apart of me and
will forever be apart of me. They are mine forever. They are and will forever be loving towards
me. I love them and they are my heart. I could never have realized this on my own, it was
because of this dying child beside that forced me to see my family as my family. It was
Thanksgiving that made me grateful for their constant presence. I will fall into this trap of love
every Thanksgiving because this holiday brought us together, brought out my real understanding
of family. We were dressed formally around the dining table. It was a red mahogany wooden
table, furnished with matching bench seats. I looked across the room and stared at them lovingly.
I love them; the only thought that crossed my mind in that moment. I dwelled on that thought for
awhile and erased it from my mind then finished eating. I enjoyed the moment of being together
with such a wonderful family.

After dinner, we all gathered around outside to take my sister to the hospital. The exciting
and fun atmosphere that was around previously in the house drifted away. We rode in silence to
the hospital. The exciting family time of thanksgiving was over, it was time for the more
sorrowful part. Our family has been planning this hospital visit for a while, but now that it is
actually here, it is unbelievable, it is miserable. I scanned the November sky as we traveled along
the highway to the hospital. I constantly wiped my tears, just as I saw everyone doing. No one
was brave enough to show that they were crying, they all tried to be brave for my sister. She had
become their hope, she was the essence of all things good. She was a light in our family darkest
times, she was the smile on our sad faces, she was our hope.

The car turned into the pediatric parking lot of the hospital. We sat in silence for a couple
of minutes, all of us staring blankly into each other’s faces, without a word to utter. I glanced
over at the car next to us, my other family members who were just enjoying the Thanksgiving
dinner were gloomy and melancholy. My mom leaned against the steering wheel of her Chrysler
Pacifica, I could see the tears flowing ever so heavily and falling onto her lap. My dad was in the
front seat beside her, his hand on her shoulder while he stared out the window. His gaze showed
no emotion, but it was apparent he could not hold back his tears anymore. I was watching them
carefully because I could not look at my sister beside me. Because I know she would be happy,
she would be smiling regardless of the situation we were in. Her eyes would be sparkling with
excitement, I just could not look at her. Suddenly, I felt something poke my hand, I looked up
ever so slowly. I looked at my sister who was struggling to keep her hand up to poke me. I did
not see a smile or eyes sparkling. Instead, I saw tears against a pale skin, I saw a frown, even
more, sadder than my own. I saw a heartbroken girl, I saw a crestfallen child. I couldn’t hold
back my tears anymore, I bawled, I yelled, I wept, I howled. I did not want to enter the rooms of
that hospital. I couldn’t do it, and if I did enter I wouldn’t want to leave. I’d want to stay with her.
During my episode of crying, I heard the doors open. My mother dragged her body to the back of
the van and removed the wheelchair. My dad opens the side door towards my sister. He picked
her up, kissed her forehead and placed her in the chair. I saw her arm grip him as he put her
down. I came out of the car, trying to catch my breath. It was difficult.

We entered hospital, our family members following behind us. I looked at the floor the
entire way to the room. The floor had white tiles with gray dots, it was dirty. We rode the
elevator to the 5th floor, we met the doctor. She was petite, her hair was dirty blonde, she smiled
wearily at my mother and shook my father’s hand. He handed the wheelchair to her, she rolled
my sister into the room. She told us to wait there until she returned. Those minutes lasted for
what seemed like years. My whole family was silent. The silence was deafening, it shrieked in
my ears. The doctor came back and lead us into the room. The room was dark, the bed was
pushed against the window to give a view of the outside of the hospital. It had started raining. I
could hear the rain beating against the pane of the window. The curtains were an ugly shade of
dark red, it matched the gray muddy colors of the wall. The atmosphere of the room made my
emotions of sadness worsen. It made the situation dead, although fitting. I looked up at my sister,
her face was different from before, this time it was calm. Her eyes were steady, it was obvious
she was sad, but she wanted to brave for us. The doctor was preparing the procedure on the table
buried in the corner of the room. I struggled not to look at her, so I moved closer to my sister and
buried my head in her side. I felt her ribs against my head. I could smell her fragrance, it was so
sweet. It smelt of food we had eaten earlier, it was surprisingly soothing. I grabbed her hand and
squeezed it. I felt the bed sink, my mom had moved from the door and was sitting on the
opposite end of the bed. She was staring at her beautiful daughter. Her brown eyes were leaking,
her mascara was ruined. Her mascara left streaks of black tears on her face, yet she gave my
sister the most comforting smile as mothers do. Abruptly I heard something fall to the floor, it
was my dad’s knees against the hospital’s floor. He had fallen on his knees bent over with this
head in his lap, he was grunting. He was spread out on the floor, broken. The doctor who was
used to this behavior continued her procedure of adding chemicals to the needle in her hand.

My mother looked over at the doctor and she nodded, it was time. The nurse without a
sound came over to our side and injected the chemicals into my sister’s IV. I watched her do so,
her eyes were almost tearful. I wondered why she cried for my sister when she did not know her.
But those thoughts quickly moved out of my mind and back to the main issue. I looked at my
sister, she was struggling immensely to keep her eyes open. But throughout the process, she did
not shed a tear, she was brave.

On this rainy November evening, after we had a full course and delicious meal, my family and I
watched my sister pass away peacefully in an ugly hospital room. It was our last Thanksgiving
together. I look back on that day and I think about all the things I would have changed. I would
have held her closer. I would have told her how much she changed my life. It was because of her
I appreciate the holidays I get to spend with my family. She was always excited and appreciative
of those holidays and I learned from that. I realize no matter how far away I am from them I will
always come back. Family is life’s greatest blessings, I tend to notice this more around the
holiday times. When we come together, feast with each other, and give gifts, this is when I
realize how precious of a commodity family is. Other times I overlook how amazing each person
is in my family and how much each and every one of them has done for me. Truth be told, I
would not give them up for the world. Their love gave me direction, their love helps me to
pursue the path of my life. Now, I look at them and smile because I love and appreciate them so
much. Family is everything not only when food and gifts are involved but through every stressful
and insignificant moment. I appreciate the times of all our struggles, I appreciate these holidays
that bring us together. I appreciate my family.

Kacia Ramasar

I am currently a senior at High Point Academy where I am a member of the Beta Club. I am an all A's student. I am a certified member of CERT. I participated on the varsity volleyball team. In the future I would like to become a pediatric nurse or work in the medical field.


Heather is the owner of Charlie Mason Entertainment in Upstate South Carolina. Entities include Upstate Exposures Magazine, Charlie Mason Radio, and the Northwest Corner Podcast.

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