For a brief moment, I wondered if she was gone already, but the machines she was hooked up to still beeped the same and she still breathed. Vincent took my hand. When he opened the door, several pairs of eyes turned our way. Vincent's father looked at us, not in a threatening way, but in a desperate manner.
"She's sleeping again," Vincent said.
Mr. Kinsington pulled Vincent's mother with him as he went back into the room. Aiden closed the distance between him and Vincent and hugged him. Vincent froze a moment before his arms slowly wrapped around his brother.
"I wish they had told us sooner," Aiden said quietly. "We could have had more time to say goodbye."
"Thank you for calling me," Vincent said. "Thank you for giving me that moment with her."
Jasmine had tears in her eyes as she watched the brothers.
I stepped up to my dad and said quietly, "Thank you for coming. Your timing was perfect."
"Thanks for letting me know, son. None of us at work knew she was sick. It's going to come as a shock to a lot of people."
Aiden and Vincent drew apart when their mom came out of the room. She looked at all of us before she approached my dad. "Margaret signed a do not resuscitate order with her doctor. If she's not going to live..." Her voice broke off and tears appeared in her eyes. She blinked them away and took a steadying breath. "If she's not going to live long, I think she would like it best if she were at home. Could you find out if that is possible and what we need to do to make that happen?"
She wasn't speaking to my dad as if he was an employee. Her tone was genuine and respectful.
"Of course," my dad said. Jennifer nodded at him and walked back into the hospital room. My dad went to the nurses desk.
One of the nurses brought a few more chairs into the room. Aiden and Jasmine went into the room. Vincent started to go in, but paused when he saw I wasn't following.
"I'll be right there. Just give me a minute," I said. He nodded and went into the room. I walked down to the end of the hallway. I sent Trevon and Alex a quick text to give them an update. When that was done. I called Vincent's work to let them know what was happening. Jessica told me that Vincent could have the next several days off and to keep them updated. When that was done, I went back to the room. Jennifer was just exiting with my dad. The two of them went to the nurses station.
I went inside and stood by Vincent. Greg didn't give us anymore grief about being there. He sat next to his mother and held her hand. Her eyes were closed. Her breathing was shallow.
I had thought something might be wrong with her, but I thought it would be something that they could fix like with Mateo's grandpa. All those times she asked me to keep my promise about taking care of Vincent now made sense. She already knew she was dying when she first had me promise her.
One of the nurses came back in with Jennifer and my dad and explained they would transport her back to the house. It was decided she would stay in the living room in the hospital bed.
Once everything was arranged, my dad went back home. A few hours later, the rest of us were gathered in the living room of the Kinsington house. Furniture had been rearranged to make room for the hospital bed. Grandma Kinsington was awake when they brought her in. One of the paramedics was telling dad jokes and Grandma Kinsington giggled weakly. I didn't want to crowd her. It was her final moments to be with her family so I stayed back a little while everyone else gathered around her. I didn't realize at first that Jennifer stayed back as well. The paramedics gave her final instructions including the message that the doctor said to give Margaret as much morphine for the pain as she needed. Normally they regulated that, but since these were her final hours, they wanted to make her as comfortable as possible.
Jennifer went back to Grandma Kinsington and the others. Margaret began to address someone by the name of Norman. Vincent came and stood by my side and told me that was his grandfather's name. When Margaret said she was thirsty, Jennifer helped her drink water. When water dribbled from the corner of her lips, Jennifer carefully wiped it away for her. Jennifer then turned on old movies for Margaret to watch. Margaret's eyes fixed on the screen, but she quickly fell asleep.
Jennifer moved to sit next to Greg on the couch. "I'm not ready for her to go yet," she said quietly. Tears welled up in her eyes and spilled onto her cheeks. "She was always nice to me."
Vincent and Aiden exchanged a glance at this.
I didn't realize anyone was behind us until Theresa gently tugged on Vincent's sleeve. He startled. She indicated we should follow her. They led me to a part of the house I hadn't been in before - the kitchen. Both Theresa's and Priscilla's eyes were bloodshot from tears.
"We made sandwiches for everyone," Priscilla said. I didn't realize it until then, but I was hungry.
"Do you think your mom and dad will eat now?" Theresa asked Vincent.
"I'm not sure I'm the best one to ask," he said.
"I'll ask them," Aiden said from the doorway. Jasmine was by his side. He went back into the living room, but Jasmine came further into the kitchen.
"I am hungry," she said. "And I don't know when the last time Aiden ate was. Thank you."
"You probably don't need to stay," Vincent said to Theresa and Priscilla. "We can order food. This must be hard on the both of you too. You've seen my grandma almost everyday for twenty years."
Theresa and Priscilla exchanged a glance. "We'll stay," Priscilla said. "We want to be here."
"Okay," Vincent said. There was a little wooden table in the kitchen that Jasmine sat at and took a sandwich. She indicated Vincent and I should join her. I pulled Vincent with me. He sat down dutifully when I told him to, but when I tried to hand him a sandwich, he said, "I'm not hungry."
"Try to eat a little," I said. "I know you don't want to, but try to for me."
He frowned, but took a hesitant bite.
Aiden came back into the kitchen and said, "They don't want anything right now." He sat down heavily next to Jasmine. She lifted a sandwich up to his mouth, but he shook his head. That only spurred her to bump the sandwich against his lips. He took a bite. She put the sandwich down in front of him and picked up her own again.
"I'm surprised mom is so emotional about this," Aiden said. "Grandma wasn't that nice to her. She was often passive aggressive with her. I didn't just imagine that did I?"
"No," Vincent said. "I was surprised when mom said grandma was always nice to her."
A heavy silence filled the room for a moment until I said, "Considering how her own parents treated her though, maybe your grandma seemed like a saint to her."
Aiden and Vincent paused as they thought about that.
"Were they really that bad?" Aiden asked.
"Yes," Vincent and I said at the same time.
"I should update Trevon and Alex," Vincent said. "And my work."
"I contacted them already," I said. "You don't need to worry about any of that."
"Thank you," he said.
Vincent only took two bites of his sandwich and then refused to eat anymore. Aiden ate about half of his, but that was only because Jasmine kept putting it up to his lips.
When we went back out to the living room, Grandma Kinsington was still asleep. Jennifer stood by her side wiping her down with a cloth.
The night grew late. Greg never moved from his spot as he watched his mother quietly. Jennifer continued to care for Margaret, but Margaret didn't wake again.
"You should rest," Jasmine said to Aiden.
"Yes," Jennifer said as she looked at all of us. "Go upstairs and rest. I'll let you know if there is any change or if she wakes up." Jasmine started to pull Aiden to the stairs, but Vincent and I stood there not sure what to do.
Jennifer glanced at Greg, but he didn't acknowledge any of us. I wasn't sure if he was even aware we were there. Jennifer walked over to us and said quietly, "You can take him to your room and rest." She glanced at her husband, but he didn't pay us any attention. Then she went back to tending Grandma Kinsington.
Vincent took my hand and led me upstairs. When we reached the top, Aiden and Jasmine went into one of the rooms down the opposite side of the hall. Vincent took me to his bedroom and we climbed onto the bed. That was when he broke down and started crying. I held him close to me until he fell asleep. I sent a text to everyone with an update and fell asleep shortly after.
It was still dark out when Jennifer woke us with tears on her cheeks to tell us that Margaret had just passed away. She quickly left us to go back downstairs. We arrived at the top of the stairs at the same time Aiden and Jasmine did. We all paused as we heard Vincent's dad sobbing. The sound of it echoed through the house. Aiden swallowed hard, but took Jasmine's hand and went down the stairs.
Vincent and I were left alone. He turned to me with tears streaming down his cheeks and whispered, "I can't." So I took him back to his room. I thought he would get on the bed again, but he rounded it so he was on the other side and collapsed to the floor. I sat next to him and held him as he cried.
I wasn't sure how long we stayed there, but it was long. Sunlight streamed through the curtain over the window. Aiden came into the room and didn't see us at first. Vincent stood and I followed. That was when Aiden saw us.
"They are going to take her away soon." He had to stop and take a moment before continuing. "If you want to see her before that, you should come now."
Vincent nodded and we followed him down. It was crowded in the living room with the crying family and Theresa and Priscilla and the people who were going to take away Grandma Kinsington. They made a path for Vincent as he made his way to her. He bent over her and cried into her shoulder. When he pulled back, they wheeled her away.
The next few days, Vincent hardly ate or slept. Jennifer arranged a funeral. Greg at first refused to let Vincent have any part of it. He finally consented to let him be a pallbearer when Jennifer reminded him that many people would be there and it would reflect badly on them if Vincent wasn't there.
I sat with my family during the funeral. Everyone from Kinsington Plastics was there and most brought their families. Margaret was well respected in the community and many other people were there. Alex and his mom were there. Trevon and his family was there. Arthur and Mateo weren't. School was still ongoing and they hadn't known Margaret. At least a hundred people were there.
There were several moments I wanted to be closer to Vincent, to hold him during the funeral, but I refrained because I didn't want to cause anymore strife between the tentative truce between him and Greg.
I went to Vincent's professors and explained what happened. I gathered the homework assignments he missed so he could get caught up when he was ready. His work told him he could take as many days off as he wanted, but he insisted he go back to work the day after the funeral. Keeping busy helped him cope.
It was a few days after he went back to work that he got a call from Margaret Kinsington's estate attorney.