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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: Bittersweet
By Debbie Roome


The phone is ringing.

Adrenaline surges through my system as I grope in the darkness. Please, Lord, don’t let me drop it.

It’s a Nokia flip phone and reminds me of a stylish clam with rounded edges and gleaming silver shell. My daughters gave it to me. “We don’t want you jumping every time the phone rings, Mom. Give them this number and that way you won’t have to worry about other calls.”

I grab the phone and it vibrates in my hand, playing the Grand Old Duke of York. It’s loaded with $20 airtime but I’ve never made a call on it; never received a call either. In spite of that, it hasn’t left my side for two years.

I flip it open and answer with a confidence I don’t feel. “Hello, Marjory Williams speaking.”

It’s as though time freezes for a moment. Patrick is stirring next to me and the digital clock burns 2:12 in the murky shadows. Outside, an owl screeches as it swoops past our home.

“Mrs Williams, it’s Nancy Rodrigues from the Transplant Centre. We have a possible kidney match for you.”

I’ve always wondered how it would feel to hear those words. Now I know. An intense mixture of bitter and sweet. The thought of freedom from dialysis is incredible. It devours my time, hours spent idle as the machine pulls my blood through its circuits and removes impurities. A transplant will mean freedom from strict dietary control and will allow the sweetness of unrestricted travel...yet it is bitter. My chance at new life is at the expense of another.

“Can you tell me about the donor?”

Nancy’s voice is compassionate. “The kidney is from a 35 year old woman, a mother of three. She fell from a ladder while cleaning her roof and sustained severe head injuries.”

My heart constricts.

“We need to run tests to assess your condition, Mrs Williams. Can you be at the city hospital within an hour?”

“Yes, of course. We’ll be on our way shortly.”

Patrick reaches over and takes my hand. “Was it them? Do they have a kidney for you?”

I nod, my heart too full to speak.

He stumbles out of bed and flicks the light on. “Come on, we need to get moving.”

I watch as he drags on pants and a shirt and fumbles in the drawer for clean socks.


He turns to me.

“The donor is 35. A mother of three. Let’s pray for her family before we go.”

Understanding washes his face and he leaves the socks and sits next to me on the bed. I think of this unknown woman, lying in a hospital somewhere. I imagine her husband and children as they line up to say final goodbyes. How does it feel to embrace a loved one and get no response? How does it feel to kiss a familiar cheek for the last time? What courage does it take to think of others at the most painful time of your life?

I weep on Patrick’s chest as he prays for these special people.

In the midst of the emotion, I feel an assurance from the Lord. This kidney is the right one for me. It will restore my health and strength and add many years to my life. I’ll write to her family once I’ve recovered. I’ll tell them of my gratitude and the priceless gift they’ve given me.

I dress slowly as Patrick packs my toiletries and the book I’m reading. My body feels sluggish and old, poisoned by my failing kidneys. What a joy it’ll be to feel well again.

“Let’s go, Love.” Patrick has my suitcase in one hand and car keys in the other.

I move to follow him and then look back at the silver phone next to my bed. It feels odd to leave it behind.

Patrick smiles. “Bring it with you. You can use it to call the girls on the way to hospital.”

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This article has been read 912 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 07/24/08
The title says it all. Well done.
Joy Faire Stewart07/24/08
Very moving story and well told.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/24/08
You portrayed the emotion well. The story is touching and well written.
Joanne Sher 07/25/08
Such an excellent job of showing the emotions - bittersweet indeed! This was very moving.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/28/08
Bittersweet and excellently written
Holly Westefeld07/28/08
You portrayed the double-edged sword of giving and receiving beautifully.
Donna Powers 07/29/08
What an incredibly lovely story! This truly touched my heart. Very well done.
Karen Wilber07/30/08
Well done. A former pastor's wife went through this to get her transplant--always with the knowledge that her gain was someone else's loss. We prayed for that eventual donor (and family) long before the transplant call came. Bittersweet is right.
Joshua Janoski07/31/08
The title is perfect. It's so sad when stuff like this happens, and yet it's great that when one life ends, it can bring new life to another. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing.