How Could He Do This?
She lay on the hospital bed with hazy monitors beeping all around her. Her breath hitched, the room swirling as it dimmed.
She tried to swallow the saliva filling her mouth but failed. As her surroundings darkened utterly, only one thought seared her mind: How could he do this?
Harley Norton had always been a giving woman. At the age of twenty-eight, she and her sister Grace already ran a warm foster home where they cared for more than a dozen children.
Giving a person a meal and a bed was never enough for Harley. She always went out of her way to love everyone as if they were her own children. All this changed when she met two-month-old Kevin Carter.
Love At First Sight
It was love at first sight when Harley received Kevin from his birth mom. She cradled him close to her heart, and Kevin cooed with delight as he nuzzled into her hold.
With Kevin, everything Harley did was amplified. If she’d loved before, this time, she did it with a fierceness she’d never known. She’d always been connected with all the other kids who passed through her care, so why was it so intense with Kevin?
An Unexplainable Love
Harley couldn’t explain it. All she knew was that with him, the world was suddenly better. He was always in her thoughts, his beaming smile warming her heart even when he wasn’t near her.
The little boy reciprocated her love and offered more. He’d rarely sleep unless she held him, and his cries would shake the house unless she soothed him. But although the relationship between them was strong, there was an issue that Harley couldn’t ignore.
To The Stars And Back
Even though Harley loved Kevin to the stars and back, she knew she’d have to give him up soon. Grace warned her not to get too attached to Kevin, but how could she not when he and Harley were inseparable by the end of Kevin’s first month at the house?
Harley had a few months before a family came to adopt Kevin. Seeing that her time was limited, she made an unthinkable choice.
Harley decided she’d spend all the time she could with Kevin. Most kids usually found families within a year, so Harley used this timeframe to estimate how long Kevin would be in her life.
Eleven months went by, and Grace successfully processed Kevin’s papers. Although she seemed to understand that it pained Harley, she put Kevin up for adoption. But she also did something else that made Harley’s lips part.
One rainy night, Grace took a sleeping Kevin in her arms and carried him to his court. She asked Harley if she’d ever considered adopting him herself.
Of course, Harley had. She’d wanted to adopt Kevin the instant his birth mom brought him in, but there was a glaring issue that blocked her wish from becoming a reality.
When bringing Kevin in, his birth mom had asked if the sisters could help Kevin find a biracial or black family to adopt him.
She’d been adamant about her wish, insisting as tears streamed down her cheeks. Even though Harley wanted to tell her to keep an open mind, she held her tongue and promised to see the woman’s wish through.
The Second Year
Now that months had passed and Harley’s bond with Kevin was unbreakable, she wished she didn’t make that promise.
The second year came to a close with no family asking for Kevin. Grace approached Harley with the update. She sat down as her lips pursed, and emotion lingered within her hazel irises.
No Families Have Come
“No families have come for him,” Grace shared with a sigh. “He might have to stay with us a few more months.” Harley’s eyes were already wet with tears even before Grace finished talking.
She stormed out of the room to find Kevin and hugged him so tightly she feared she might hurt him. It was then that she realized something.
Realization As Clear As Day
With Kevin held against her shoulder, Harley realized that she didn’t want to give him up. She’d promised his birth mom she’d find a biracial or black family for him, but she’d never wanted something as much as she wished Kevin to be her kid.
Grace came into the room after her, her brows drawing close when she saw Harley awash with tears and cradling Kevin. What she’d share would leave Harley speechless.
A Loving Sister
“It might be a while till we find someone for Kevin,” Grace began. “So why don’t we try and adopt him ourselves?” Harley’s breath hitched, and her heart stopped beating within her.
“B-but what about his biological mom’s wish?” she asked. “It’s been more than a year, Harley,” Grace said as she ran a gentle hand up Kevin’s back. “He’s already home, isn’t he?”
Harley and Grace threw their names into Kevin’s adoption basket, hoping they could keep him with them. As the months went by, no families came for him, which increased the sisters’ chance of adopting him.
But the two also held off as they waited for any suitable family to claim the boy per his biological mom’s wish. When none came, the answer became clear.
Harley and Grace welcomed Kevin into their family as Harley’s son. Harley couldn’t believe it. She’d held off for as long as she could for a family to come. Each second had been like torture.
Kevin was now an active little boy. Harley looked into his big brown eyes as she always did when she held him and knew he was here to stay. Little did she know this decision would land her in a hospital bed down the road.
Kevin joined the Nortons as their son. Harley took care of him, loving him as she had never loved anyone else.
Kevin grew up under her watchful eye. A loving mother, Harley taught him how to be a responsible man. She taught him to care for the people around him. Life was going great until disaster struck.
A Brewing Storm
Harley was asleep when a sharp pain hit her abdomen. She cried out for Kevin, who immediately came running.
Harley assured him everything was fine. Her contorted face, as she tried to hide the pain swelling in her stomach, convinced him otherwise. They needed to visit a hospital and fast.
Kevin was twenty-seven when the disaster struck. He’d been home for Easter when Harley fell ill, and she didn’t know what she’d do if he hadn’t been around.
Kevin helped Harley onto his car as carefully as possible and drove her to the emergency room. They were lucky to find the road empty that night. With the help of two nurses, Kevin checked Harley into a room.
A Caring Son
The doctor came in to diagnose Harley, and Kevin sat outside her room. Sometimes he would pace around before sitting with his head held in his hands.
Harley hated to see him like this. For everything that Kevin had grown up to be, a successful teacher pursuing a Master’s degree, he’d kept his sweet and beautiful heart from his childhood days. He stormed in as soon as the doctor concluded his tests.
Visiting the Doctor
“Polycystic kidney disease,” the doctor shared his diagnosis. Harley’s heart broke for Kevin, whose eyes filled with tears. His lips trembled.
He stepped to the doctor, calling him to the side where they discussed in hushed tones. Kevin nodded and returned to Harley’s side. “It’s going to be alright, mom,” he said. “I’ve called Aunt Grace, and she’ll be here soon. I’m leaving for a few hours.” With that, he walked away.
Harley sat in the room alone, wondering why her son had hurried out like that. It’d never been like Kevin to leave, especially when someone needed him.
Harley’s lashes tipped with tears. Was Kevin abandoning him? Grace came in some hours later and found her still crying. She hugged her, informing her that Kevin had called about the diagnosis. When Harley asked her if she’d seen him, Grace told her the truth.
Harley froze as her sister divulged what Kevin had told her he was planning. She called him, demanding he come to the hospital that instant. Harley reprimanded Kevin when he showed up.
She would not have him go to such lengths even for her. But Kevin was adamant. “This is my calling,” he said as he wiped tears from his eyes. “Hopefully, I can do more for you as I get older, but it’s the least I can do for the moment.”
The Long Wait
Kevin had the hospital see if he could donate one of his kidneys to Harley. He’d spent the entire night running tests with one of the doctors to see if he could save her.
Now they waited in Harley’s room, Kevin fidgeting in his seat as the minutes ticked by. The doctor finally came in, his answer shocking everyone in the room.
“You’re a match!” the doctor broke the news. Kevin jumped from his seat. He hugged Harley and Grace before turning to the stunned doctor. “When can we operate?” Kevin asked.
“As soon as possible, if that’s okay,” the doctor answered. But Harley did not celebrate. She beckoned Kevin closer and whispered something into his ear.
Setting The Record Straight
“I’ll not have you do this,” Harley said with a broken voice. She wiped tears that had been collected under Kevin’s eyes and held his face.
“My beautiful, caring son,” she whispered, wondering why he was so adamant about this. “You don’t have to do this.” Kevin’s answer would make her own tears flow freely.
Do Not Do It
“All those years you took care of me, mom,” Kevin said, “let me take care of you now. Please.” He took Harley’s hand and squeezed, taking her back to when he used to squeeze her finger as an infant.
Harley’s heart broke for the second time that night. She had fought to have Kevin stay with him those twenty-seven years past. Now he was doing the same for her. Could she agree to his plan?
Asking For Help
Caught between not wanting to put her son’s life in danger and needing to stay around for him, Harley turned to Grace for advice.
Her sister had helped her through tough times before, and Harley needed her now. “You know how Kevin gets when he sets his mind to something,” Grace said. Her lips curled into a beautiful smile. “He gets that from you. Let him do this if he wants to.”
A Bright White Light
A nurse brought an anesthesia face mask over Harley’s nose. She smiled, and Harley nodded, lifting her head as the nurse fitted the mask on her.
“My son, where’s my son?” Harley moaned. The nurse answered, pointing to the side, but Harley could not hear anything. The room dimmed, and her aching nerves went to sleep. Then came a bright white light.
I Need to Live for Him
Shadows danced before Harley’s sight when she opened her eyes. They blocked the charring light around her. “Mom?” a distant voice echoed. “Mom, is she okay, doctor?”
“Kevin?” Harley tried to call back. Her tongue was heavy in her mouth, and her head hurt. “Kevin!” Was she alive, or had the surgery been unsuccessful?
Harley’s lungs were heavy in her chest, and her throat was clogged as she tried to breathe. Her sight was still white with light, and as much as she tried, she couldn’t speak out to let Kevin know she could hear him.
She’d fought to have him stay with her, and he’d fought to save her life. She knew she had to do everything now to remain by his side.
Can’t Ask for a Better Son
“She’s fine,” another voice declared on Harley’s side. “Give her a bit of time.” It was the doctor’s voice. Gradually, the white light around Harley faded away.
When her sight cleared, the first person she saw was Kevin. He was standing next to her, his fingers tight around her palm. “Hi, mom,” he croaked. Tears covered his eyes, but his face split into a smile.