Authors: Debbie Fuller Thomas
DEBBIE FULLER THOMAS
Â© 2009 by
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Editor: Pam Pugh
Interior Design: Ragont Design
Cover Design: Studio Gearbox
Cover Image: Veer
Author Photo: Shirley Borba
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Thomas, Debbie Fuller
Â Raising Rain / Debbie Fuller Thomas.
Â Â Â Â Â p. cm.
Â ISBN 978-0-8024-8734-6
Â 1. Mothers and daughtersâFiction. 2. Terminally illâFiction. 3. FeministsâFiction. 4. Female friendshipâFiction. 5. Domestic fiction. 6. Psychological fiction. I. Title.
Â PS3620.H6266R35 2009
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To Don, Megan, and Ian for their support and
encouragement, and to my mother for her loving example.
hen Bebe heard that Jude Rasmussen didn't have long to live, she felt a curious mixture of sadness, guilt, and relief. Not exactly normal feelings for a friend of over thirty-five years, though you couldn't exactly describe their relationship as “normal”âmore like a thinly veiled hostage situation.
“Her cancer is back,” Rain said, gently swirling her coffee. “She didn't want sympathy, so she kept it to herself. I haven't connected with Mom in a while, so it wasn't hard to keep it a secret. William finally made her tell me.”
Bebe put her hand on Rain's arm. “I'm sorry, honey. I guess the hysterectomy didn't help much. What can we do?”
Rain glanced up at the line of people snaking around their small table and leaned in toward Bebe. “Well, actually, she had her reasons for giving in to William and agreeing to tell me. I'm here on a mission.” She winced.
Bebe leaned in as well. “Go ahead. What is it?”
“She wants to have a Celebration of Life before she dies. Not a
memorialâa send-off, she calls it. One last chance to do something significant and she wants us all to help plan it. You, me, the old college roommates. You know Mom. It's got to be something big. I'm not exactly sure what she has in mind, but it sounds .Â .Â . complicated.”
Bebe blew out a breath and sat back in her chair. “That's putting it mildly.” Then she added, “Oh, I'm sorry, Rain.”
“Don't worry. I know what she's like. I've been her daughter for thirty-seven years.” Rain glanced at the time on her cell phone and gathered her wallet and sunglasses. “I've got to go. I can't be late again. Loren's just looking for an excuse to replace me as the lead on this Murrieta project.”
Bebe gathered her purse and dug for her keys as they headed out the door into the heat of the morning. The blast of dry air baked her skin, absorbing the layer of SPF 30 she'd slathered on to prevent more freckles. They crossed the parking lot to where their cars sat side by side like a pair of mismatched shoes.
Bebe paused to give Rain a hug before she got in, and caught the unexpected scent of baby powder. “I'll call you later to see how you're doing. And of course I'll call Toni and Mare.”
They got into their cars and Bebe cranked up the air conditioning. Immediately, her cell phone rang, and Rain's number displayed.
“You forget something?” Bebe asked, looking through her window into Rain's car. Rain looked back from the driver's seat, her eyes hidden behind sunglasses.
“Mom's timing couldn't have been more perfect.” There was a long pause. Bebe could hear the insistent warning of an unfastened seatbelt. “Hayden and I split up.”
“It doesn't matter. I don't need him. I can have a baby by myself. Love you.” Bebe heard Rain's cell phone snap shut and watched her glance over her shoulder and back her car into the street. Then she was gone.
Bebe raced home brooding on what Rain had told her and pulled her lavender scrubs with the black pawprints from the dryer. She'd been on-call the night before, and Mr. Woofles had suffered a severe asthma attack at 1:00 a.m. She needed to get in early and work him into her packed appointment calendar.
Bebe drove across town, parked in one of the clinic's few employee-parking stalls and slipped into the staff entrance. A whiff of betadyne and the whine of pups from the kennels greeted her, and she sat down at her desk to check her e-mail. She pushed back a pile of mail from pharmaceutical companies that threatened to slide onto the floor when she jiggled her mouse. She checked the charts of two patients who'd undergone procedures the day before, but nothing demanded her immediate attention. She listened to her voice mail, deleting old reminders to pick up hair color and her prescription at the pharmacy. Leaving herself messages had become a necessity of late.
“Hey,” Neil said, coming up behind her. She tilted her head back and he kissed her forehead. “I think I heard Mr. Woofles complaining in room five.”
Bebe closed her e-mail, and a picture of her boys, Scott and Dylan, smiled at her from her computer desktop. Their white teeth flashed in their tanned faces against a backdrop of snow, sugar pines, and blue sky. She felt Neil's hands resting on her shoulders, and they shared a moment of appreciation for their handsome family.
“They'll be fine,” he said.
She reached up and touched his hand. “I know. It's just hard that they're both leaving within a few weeks of each other.”
He gave her shoulders a light squeeze and sat down behind her at his desk.
“Oh, I had coffee with Rain this morning.” Bebe twisted around to face Neil, who was leafing through a file on his desk. “She had two pieces of bad news. Unfortunately, she and Hayden have called it quits, and Jude's cancer is back. I guess her prognosis isn't good.”
Neil looked up. “That's too bad. Any idea what happened between her and Hayden?”
“It must have something to do with having a baby. She's determined to have one by herself.” She reached behind her head with a ponytail band around her wrist, and in smooth strokes, wove her hair into a French braid. “I thought they would be moving toward marriage by this time.”
Neil whistled. “I always pictured Hayden as a family guy.”
“So did I. I suspect there's more to it.”
“How's she taking the news about her mom?”
“She seemed to be fine, but Jude wants some kind of last hurrah before she dies, and she wants me, Mare, and Toni to help plan it. And of course, Rain.”
Neil shook his head. “Always in control, right up to the end. Do you think Mare and Toni will cooperate?”
Bebe stood and draped her stethoscope around her neck. “They'll do it for Rain, if for no other reason.”
Bebe stopped outside the door to room five and removed the chart from the holder, taking a quick overview of the tech's notes. She briefly knocked and opened the door, breezing in to take the small rolling seat with a greeting to Mr. Woofles's owner.
“So, Mr. Woofles, I heard you had a bad night.” She let Mr. Woofles sniff her hand and reached out to scratch behind his soft, floppy ears. He moaned low in his throat. She pulled back the skin from his eyes, and then from his mouth to examine his teeth. “Looks like you're due for a cleaning. When you're feeling better.”
He stood long enough for her to listen to his heart and lungs, and then sank down onto the cool linoleum with a
and the jingle of his tags hitting the floor. His lungs were free of the cackles and wheezes typically associated with asthma.
“Okay, this morning we'll do a chest X-ray to rule out the possibility of pneumonia or heart failure. If it's clear, we'll try some antihistamines. But call me if he has another severe attack because you may have to bring him in for a shot of steroids. I'd keep him inside out of the heat as much as possible. It would also help if you had a cold-mist humidifier running at night. I would remove any cleansers from his area,
and make sure no one smokes around him until we determine what triggers these attacks.” His big eyes rolled up to keep an eye on her. “Don't worry, Mr. Woofles,” Bebe assured him. “We'll get this figured out.”