Her gaze was fixed on the beeping monitors that surrounded her in the hospital bed. Her breath was choppy, and the room was dark and hazy.
She attempted to swallow her salvia, but her throat was too swollen. Only one thought pierced her consciousness as her surroundings darkened: How could he do this to her?
Harley Norton was a kind woman, she always had been. She and her sister Grace joined forces at the age of twenty-eight by running a foster home. Together they provided for numerous children.
Even though she provided the children with a place to sleep and a warm dinner, Harley wanted more. She ensured to make every child feel loved and she treated them as her own. A two-month-old baby named Kevin Carter changed everything for her, however.
When Harley received Kevin from his birth mother, she knew that it was love at first sight. She cradled him, her heart flooding with adoration as he peacefully slept in her arms. She knew that he was meant to be hers.
When it came to Kevin, everything Harley did was amplified. She loved him more than she had ever loved anything or anyone ever before. She always felt a connection with the kids that passed through her care, but why was it so intense with Kevin?
She couldn’t explain it. All she knew was that her world was better with him in it. She never stopped thinking about him, his smile made every single day a good day.
But he reciprocated her love and affection, he sometimes even offered more. He struggled to fall asleep unless he was in her arms. His cries would fill the house whenever she wasn’t there to soothe him. They had a strong relationship, but despite this, there was an issue that Harley couldn’t ignore.
Despite how much she loved him, she knew that she would have to give him up toon. Grace had warned her not to get too attached but she loved him so much, how could she not? Harley and Kevin were inseparable by the end of his first month at her house.
Harley only had a few months with him before a family would come to adopt him. She was aware that her time was limited, that was why she made an unthinkable choice.
Her plan was to spend every second that she could with Kevin. Most children would find a family within a year, so she used this to estimate how long he would be around.
After eleven months, Grace managed to successfully process Kevin’s papers. She knew that it pained Harley, but she put Kevin up for adoption. But she did something else that made Harley’s jaw drop.
It was a rainy and cold night, and Grace was carrying a sleeping Kevin to his cot. She then asked Harley what she thought of adopting Kevin for herself.
Harley had thought of it many times before. She wanted to adopt him from the first moment she saw him. But there was one issue that was preventing her from making this a reality.
When Kevin was brought in, his birth mother requested that they find him a biracial or black family to adopt him.
She was adamant about this request, she had tears streaming down her face as she begged them. Harley wanted to tell her to keep an open mind, but she bit her tongue and promised to fulfill her wishes.
Even more months passed and Harley’s bond with Kevin was unbreakable. She couldn’t imagine her life without him anymore. She so badly wished that she had never made that promise in the first place.
Another year passed without any family asking for Kevin. Grace approached Harley with an update. She sat het down with pursed lips, emotion pouring from her eyes.
She spoke with a sigh, “No families have come for him. He might have to stay with us a few more months.” Harley had already started crying before Grace even started talking.
Wiping her tears, she stormed out of the room and went to find Kevin. She hugged him so tightly that it was a miracle that she didn’t crush him. That was when she realized something.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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
“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.
“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?
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 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.
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.
“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.