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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: Jack's Choice
By Leslie Lamb


Lying in my bed, I can still hear the steady drone of the death tone, a steady beep that marks the end of a staccato life. The peace I expected to feel in this moment doesn’t come. Instead it is the uncertainty that haunts me and the feeling that I have murdered the only man that I could love - I ended a life that was meant to go on. I don’t hear the words that he spoke to me months ago when they found him collapsed at work. I don’t hear the urgency in his voice weeks later as he made me promise.

“Please, don’t let them keep me alive. I don’t want to breathe if I can’t do it without machines.”
I ran my hand through my hair, spare from stress and worry.

“I can’t make that decision,” I begged. “It isn’t going to come to that anyway. We’re young; we’ve got a lot of life left to live; you just have to be positive and have hope.”

He wrapped my hand up in his, completely covered in his strength. I thought, “No man as strong and determined as my Jack could die!” Just the conversation seemed ridiculous.

“I hope that you won’t let them prolong my life.”

His health had quickly continued to digress as his strong form withered away. My Jack, my rock had finally succumbed to his disease. We had fought long and hard; we had gone through every treatment available but the enemy was too strong, and eventually my dear friend, my young husband, had left me with that unbearable choice.

“We think that there is a 25% chance that this surgery might be successful,” the doctors had said. I could see that they weren’t really that sure. I could see that they were grasping at straws.

“So, there is a 75% chance that what?” I wanted to know; I needed to know.

“There is a high chance that he might not even make it off the operating table; however, if you would allow us to place him on life support now, allow the machine to breathe for him and release some of the strain on his lungs, his odds might be better.”

That word “might” hung in the air like a fog, and I looked back at his emaciated frame taking up little space on the bed while his feet were hanging off the end. My decision needed his guidance, but he had no words for me now, no way to voice his opinion. The choice was mine, as much as I hated it.

“He wouldn’t want to die like that.” Then the tears that had threatened before forced their way out, and I managed to whisper, “Just let him go.”

As if no longer weighted by my hopes, Jack left us. Fast and sure, he took that last breath. A look of peace crossed his face, and with his battle over, he passed on to more, to life eternal.

Or at least, that is what I thought I saw, but now all I see are labored breaths tearing him away; all I hear are chokes and gasps pulling in the last bit of air offered. I lay here wondering “what if?” What if he could have pulled through? What if I gave up too quickly? What if there was more? And quietly, in this chaos of my mind, all I have is hope, that the One Who knows me best, knows this, too.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Sickler05/11/06
I liked how you left her with doubts in the end. My one suggestion would be to name the disease so the reader knows what they were dealing with and to add authenticity to the story.
Jessica Schmit05/13/06
Wow, such turmoil. You did a great job brinig the reader into the scene. Fabulous writing.
Val Clark05/13/06
Yes, there are many big and small decisions that we have to make that leave us, after the moment, with the question what if? So true that in the end all we do have is hope.
Lynda Schultz 05/13/06
I'm glad that you left us with the doubts in her mind. I wonder if anyone could make such a choice and be perfectly sure that it was right. That's what hope is all about. Good job.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/14/06
You pulled the reader into the story and described the anguish very well. Good job.
Joe Moreland05/15/06
Thank you for this story. What a heroine this character is. While being put in the most unfair of situations, she neither whines nor shirks her responsibility. She makes the decision to honor his last wishes no matter the cost to her. The doubts at the end show us that cost was high. What bravery. Most of us are far too selfish to make the choice she made. Again, thanks for writing this story.