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Nancy M., NY

The Hugs I missed. When I was one, I couldn't tell you not to smoke while you were holding me, so I fussed. When I was five, I would wave your cigarette smoke out of my face as I ate dinner. When I was ten, I would protest and cough when you lit up in the car. When I was fifteen, the smell of smoke was so strong on your clothes that I didn't want to hug you. When I was twenty-two, you insisted on smoking in my limousine on my wedding day. You smelled of smoke when you walked me down the aisle, and so did I. When I was twenty-five, you had open-heart surgery and the doctor told you to quit. You would sneak cigarettes and thought no one knew it. You were so addicted to nicotine you said you would rather die than quit. You got your wish. You developed lung cancer when I was twenty-six, then decided you wanted to live. You needed chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The prognosis was poor. Then, reluctantly, you quit smoking. When I was twenty-seven you closed your eyes forever. I hugged you and you didn't smell like smoke anymore. First rights, N.S.M (c)1999

First Published: October 23, 2013

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