“When I lay me down to Sleep,
I recommend my self to his care;
when I awake, I give my self up to his Direction.”
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, March 8, 1711
In need of the bathroom Amber reluctantly emerges from behind the heavy oak door of her study. The waiting ragtag group of friends, relatives, and business acquaintances turn in unison. She feels their collective gaze accompany her through the marble foyer as she shuffles around the corner to the first level powder room. Amber closes the door gently and slumps onto the commode.
“Will this nightmare never end?” she whispers to the walls.
Splashing cold water on her face she gazes into the brass gilded mirror. The last nine days are etched in lines around her dull hazel eyes.
“You have to make a decision,” she told her reflection, “today.” Her long dead mother seems to be staring back at her. Suddenly Amber is transported back in time.
But mommy, I wanna do gymnastics and play soccer!
I’m sorry Amber dear, but you’ll have to decide. They’re both at the same time …
Mom, why can’t Tara and Michelle both come to Italy with us?
Amber, you know there’s only room for one of your friends … you’ll have to decide …
I’ve been accepted at Harvard and Stanford … what do I do?
It’s your decision, dear …
Tears stream uninterrupted down Amber’s face as she returns to the painful present.
At least the last decision had been easy. Harvard is near, while Stanford is a continent away. She wanted to be close to home … to be available to spend time together … to eke every last minute out of every last day she had left with her dying mom.
Resolve flashes life into her eyes. The reflection in the mirror transforms back into the decisive, confident, successful woman she is, yet the softest green points of light around the edges of her eyes reveal the caring, devoted, loving wife. After a final gaze Amber gains the strength to face the crowd.
Clicking heels echo on the marble floor waking to life the waiting. Gasps interrupt the stagnant air as Amber rounds the corner, resolve evident on her freshly washed face.
She stops in front of the onlookers, squares her shoulders and breathes. After nodding at some, and smiling gently at others she fixes her gaze on two men near the back.
“Charles, Dr. Matthews, will you please come with me?”
The duo winds its way through the pack and follows Amber up the grand staircase. In hushed silence they enter the first room to the right.
Blips and bleeps emit from a myriad of machines like a bizarre welcome song for the somber group. A nurse, in gentle pastels, is seated near the utilitarian hospital bed. Its presence in stark contrast to the luxurious Oriental rug, damask wall paper, velvet drapes and mahogany furnishings.
Amber approaches the bed alone. The invited remain just inside the door. She gently strokes her husband’s unresponsive face. Slowly a tear drips from her chin penetrating the white linen sheet. She beckons Charles forward. He reaches his sister-in-law encircling her in a hug. After squeezing his silent brother’s hand, Charles steps back.
The last rays of sun stream through the large window behind her. Amber feels the warm golden glow embrace her.
“Dr. Matthews, please inform the transplant recipients and assemble your team. I’ve made my decision.”
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