When Tomorrow Never Comes



“I’m going to bed now, Mom,” my sixteen-year-old son, Brian, called from the top of the stairs leading to his bedroom.


“Okay.  ‘Night, sweetie!” I called back from the living room, where I sat, reading a book.


I heard Brian putter around upstairs for a few minutes, and then I heard the click of his bedroom door as he shut it for the night.  Then all was silent upstairs.


I stayed up for another hour, just reading, and finally, I retired to my bedroom, where my husband, Harold, already lay, sleeping.   I got ready for bed and climbed beneath the covers, falling asleep only minutes after my head hit the pillow.




The next morning,  I woke up late, my head throbbing.  My nose was stuffed up as well, and I felt horrible.  Must be a cold.  I hated having colds.


I glanced at the clock next to my bed.  7:45.  Time to get up.  I staggered out of bed and pulled my terry-cloth robe and slippers on.  Then I walked slowly down the stairs to the kitchen.  I found Brian there, sitting alone at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal.  Lucky Charms, I noted.  One of his favorites.


Mornin’, Mom,” Brian greeted me, smiling, as I entered the kitchen.


“Good morning, hun,” I said tiredly.  I glanced at the clock again.  “You better hurry up, or you’ll be late for school,” I warned.


Brian grinned sheepishly and nodded, downing the last of his cereal and placing his empty bowl in the dishwasher.  He ran upstairs for his jacket and backpack and was back in a moment, ready to leave.


“See ya later, Mom,” Brian said, as he walked out the door.


“Have a good day, sweetie!” I called, as he left.  I watched through the window as he climbed into his new truck, something he had been saving for a long time.  He called the truck the Bleedin’ Banana, for it was red, with bright yellow painted on the bottom.  I thought it was absolutely hideous, but Brian thought it was cool, and it had been a good buy too, so I couldn’t complain.


The truck pulled out of the driveway and disappeared down the street, and I turned away from the window and towards the coffeepot.




By that afternoon, I was feeling even worse than before.  Despite the medicine I had taken to fight my cold, I was feeling miserable.


Around 3:15, the phone rang. 


“Hello?” I said, picking it up.


“Hey, Mom, it’s me,” came Brian’s familiar voice.


“Hi, honey,” I said.  “What’s up?”


“I just wanted to let you know I won’t be home until tonight.  I’ve got dress rehearsal in a few minutes, and afterwards, me and some of the guys are going out for supper before the musical.  So I won’t see you until when you get here for the musical,” he explained.


The musical!  I sighed.  I had almost forgotten about the school musical, which Brian had been cast in.  Tonight was its opening night, and I was supposed to be there. 


“Brian, honey, would you be really upset if I didn’t come tonight?” I asked wearily.  “It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I have a terrible cold, and I feel awful.”


“Oh.  Well, that’s okay, Mom.  You’ll come tomorrow night then, won’t you?” he asked.


“Of course, sweetie,” I replied. 


“Okay.  Well, I gotta go now.  See ya later,” Brian said.  “I hope you feel better.”


“Thanks, baby,” I said.  “Bye.”


“Bye,” he replied.


With that, we both hung up.




“Have fun,” I said, hugging Harold, my husband, goodbye.  It was six-thirty, and he was heading Brian’s high school for the musical, which started at seven.


“I will,” he said.  “Sorry you can’t come.”


I shrugged.  “I’ll be there tomorrow night,” I said.  “If you see Brian before the show, make sure you tell him good luck.”


“Will do, honey,” Harold replied.  “I’ll see you later.”


“Okay.  Bye,” I called, as he headed out into the night, which had turned cool and rainy.  I watched his car pull away and then I headed up to bed, too sick and exhausted to sit up any longer.




A little after nine, the door to my bedroom opened, allowing a flood of light to spill in, and rousing me from my light sleep.


I looked up to see Harold walk into the room.


“Did I wake you, honey?” he asked.  “I’m sorry.”


“It’s okay,” I said, with a wave of my hand.  “I wasn’t sleeping that heavily anyway.  So, how was the musical?”


“It was great.  Brian did a wonderful job,” he replied, smiling.


I smiled as well, proud of my youngest son.  “I can’t wait to see him tomorrow night,” I said.


“You’ll love it,” Harold said, as he headed into our bathroom.  A few minutes later, he emerged, ready for bed.


“Is Brian home yet?” I asked, as he climbed into bed.


“No, he had the truck with him, so he was going to give some of the other kids rides home,” Harold replied.  “He should be home in a bit.”


“Okay,” I said.  I wanted to go wait up for him, but my head was pounding, and I was so tired, I didn’t think I could hold it up any longer.  I lay back down and fell asleep almost instantly, sure that Brian would be home safe and sound within minutes.




I don’t know what woke me up, but something did.  I found myself suddenly wide awake, sitting up in bed, my head clear for the first time in hours.  Harold lay fast asleep next to me, snoring softly.  I glanced at the clock to see that it was just after midnight. 


Unable to fall asleep again, I got up, put my robe and slippers on, and padded downstairs into the kitchen.  My gaze fell on the spot next to the backdoor, where Brian’s shoes usually lay.  This spot was empty now.  I frowned, wondering if he actually could have put his shoes away.  Fat chance.


Feeling slightly worried, I walked back upstairs.  But this time, I headed down the hallway to Brian’s door.  It was slightly open.  A pit formed in my stomach suddenly.  Brian never slept with his door open. 


I pushed the door open further and stepped into the dark room.  I couldn’t see much of anything, so I flipped on the light switch on the wall next to the door.   I gasped when I saw Brian’s bed, still messilymade from that morning.  He was nowhere in the room.


“Oh, my God,” I said aloud.  My mind raced.  Where could he be?  He should have been home hours ago! 


I hurried down the hall to check the bathroom, just to be sure he wasn’t just in there, but the bathroom was empty.  I checked my other son, Harry’s room, which was unoccupied, for he was away at college. 


No Brian. 


I checked all the other rooms in the house, but the results were the same.  Brian was nowhere to be found. 


I started to head back down the hall to my bedroom to wake Harold, when I heard a loud knock on the front door.  My heart pounding, my whole body feeling cold and clammy, I raced down the stairs and to the front door.  My hand shaking slightly, I unlocked the door and flung it open.


To my horror, there stood two police officers, their blue caps removed.  “Mrs. Littrell?” one of them asked.


“Y-yes,” I stammered, finding it hard to speak. 


“My name’s Officer Brady.  I’m sorry to tell you that your son, Brian, has been involved in a traffic accident,” the officer said grimly.


My heart skipped a beat.  “Is he okay?!” I demanded, my voice shrill with panic.


The two officers exchanged glances, and then Officer Brady gravely shook his head.  “I’m afraid Brian did not survive the crash,” he said softly. 


A wave of dizziness hit me, and I wobbled.   I grabbed the doorframe for support and steadied myself, waiting for the dizziness to pass.


“Are you okay, ma’am?” Officer Brady asked, grabbing lightly onto my shoulder.  I managed to nod.  “Would you like to come with us to the hospital to see you son?”


“Yes,” I said.  “I… I have to go wake up my husband first though.”


“Okay,” he said.  “Mind if we wait inside for you?”


“Oh, no.  Come on in,” I mumbled, stepping back so they could enter.  I absently shut the door behind them and said, “I’ll just be a minute.”


With that, I walked numbly up the stairs, my mind racing.  Brian was dead.  My baby was dead.  It seemed unbelievable to me.  A traffic accident?  It seemed unthinkable.  Brian was only sixteen, but he had been such a good, responsible driver.  He was only sixteen though.  He had so much more of his life left to live.  But now that had been robbed of him.  He would never get to do any of the things he had planned to.  Graduate high school.  Go to college.  Get married.  Start a family.  He couldn’t even perform at the musical tomorrow night.


The musical.  A sob escaped my lips as I realized I hadn’t even been there to see my baby perform that night.  With unbelievable sadness and guilt, I realized I hadn’t kissed him goodbye that morning.  I hadn’t kissed him goodnight the night before.  And I hadn’t told him I loved him all day.  It had seemed I would have an opportunity to do any of those things any other day.  Tomorrow, maybe.  But now I knew that could never be possible.  Brian would never again hear me tell him I loved him.  He would never again feel my lips brush against his cheek as I kissed him.  He would again never see the look of pride on my face as I watched him perform. 


Unable to control my sobbing, I numbly entered my bedroom.  I didn’t even have to turn on the light to get Harold to wake up.  He awoke just my the sound of my mournful crying.  “Jackie?” he asked, sitting up, confused and concerned.  “Jackie?!”




I jerked up with a start, breathing hard.   I looked around and realized I was back in my bed, Harold sitting up beside me. 


“Brian,” I murmured. 


“What?” Harold asked, confused.  “Honey, I think you were having a nightmare.”


A nightmare?!   “But…” I started to say, and then it sunk in.  A nightmare.  I had had a nightmare.  And that meant…   “Brian!” I cried, leaping out of bed.


“Jackie?  What’s wrong?!” Harold asked.


“Brian.  Is Brian home?” I asked.


“Yeah.  He got home not long after I did.  I heard him come in.  He popped in to say goodnight, but you were already asleep,” Harold said.


Relief and joy washed over me.  “Good,” I said softly.  “I’ll be right back, honey.”   I slipped on my robe and slippers and walked down the hall to Brian’s room.  The door was closed tightly.  Smiling, I quietly opened it.   Some light from the hallway spilled into his room, and I could make out his still form, lying there in his bed.  I crept silently to his side and hovered over him.  He was sound asleep, his angelic face relaxed.  I bent and softly kissed his cheek, taking great pleasure in being able to do so again.   “I love you, Brian,” I whispered.  I pulled his covers up around him, tucking him in as I had done when he was just a little boy.   I smiled down at him and went back to the doorway, blowing him a kiss as I quietly closed the door tightly once again.  


I went back to bed, knowing that from then on, I would have a different outlook on life.  I had realized that I needed to make the most out of my life and never take anything for granted… for I had no way of knowing when tomorrow would never come.


The End




AN:  I based this story on a poem I received in a chain letter.  Here is the poem:



If I Knew It Would Be the Last


If I knew it would be the last time

that I'd see you fall asleep,

I would tuck you in more tightly

and pray the Lord your soul to keep.


If I knew it would be the last time

that I'd see you walk out of the door,

I would hug you and kiss you

and call you back for one more.


If I knew it would be the last time

I heard your name lifted up in praise,

I would video tape each action and word,

so I could play it back for days.


If I knew it would be the last time

to spare an extra minute or two,

I'd stop and say "I love you,"

Instead of assuming that you know I do.


If I knew it would be the last time

I would be there to share your day.

Well, I'm sure you'll have many more,

So, I'll let this one slip away.


For surely there is tomorrow

to make up for an oversight,

and we'll always get a second chance

to make everything all right.


There will be another chance

to say our "I love you's,"

and certainly there's another chance

to say our "Anything I can do's ".


But just in case I might be wrong,

and today is all I get,

I'd like to say how much I love you

and hope we never forget.


Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,

young or old alike,

and today might be your last chance

to hold your loved one tight.


So if you're waiting for tomorrow,

why not do it all today?

For if tomorrow never comes,

You will surely regret the day,

that you didn't take the extra time

for a smile or hug or kiss.

And your surely too busy to grant someone,

what turned out to be their last wish.


So hold your loved ones close today

and whisper in their ear.

Tell them how much you love them

and that you'll always hold them dear.


Take the time to say "I'm sorry,

please forgive me, Thank you or It's OK",

and if tomorrow never comes,

you'll have no regrets about today.


Apologize and start anew

and tell the one who loves you,

that you love them too!



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When Tomorrow Never Comes Ó 2000 by Julie