Maggie’s Choice

Mary sipped her latte and watched the rain on the windows at the coffee shop. She loved to watch the big billowing clouds move slowly across the horizon. The door opened and in walked Mary’s childhood friend Maggie.

“Boy, did you get soaked! Sit down, Maggie; I will order you a chia tea while you get settled,” Mary said.

She noticed Maggies’ eyes were red and puffy. When Mary returned, Maggie was  simply staring at the table.

“Here you go,” Mary said as she put the blue and white ceramic cup down. “Careful, it is hot.”

“Thanks,” Maggie said still staring at the table.

“So I have been wondering what is going on with you since I got your text this morning,” Mary said with concern in her voice.

Maggie sighed. “I just came back from Dr. Gabriel’s office.”
“Dr. Gabriel? Your OBGYN? Is he still in practice? He was my  OBGYN,” Mary smiled.

“The very same one.”

“That must have been 34 years ago by now. I don’t think he will ever retire.” Mary swirled the foam in her latte. “Oh dear, Maggie, is it the baby?”

Maggie sighed, “Yes and it is bad,” her voice trembled. “The baby has a very rare, very terminal condition. He will not live a full life.”

“Oh Maggie! How bad is it? Are you sure? Will he survive the pregnancy?”

“Well, yes. This condition develops as the baby grows. He will not be like the other children, and they will bully him. He will suffer greatly and die an agonizing death.” A tear rolled down her puffy red cheek.

“I am so sorry honey. Please know that I will be by your side through this.”
“That is the thing Mary, I don’t know if I can continue this pregnancy.”

“Maggie, how could, what do you mean?” Mary stammered.

“Mary, he is going to suffer. How can I bring a child into this world knowing he won’t live a full life?”
“Suffering is part of life. Every life. Everyone suffers.”

“Come on Mary, I thought you would understand.” Maggie raised her voice in disappointment.

“I understand more than you will ever know.”
“And what if the kids at school make fun of him?”

“They probably will. And if you terminate this pregnancy, you will say to the world that not even you, his mother, can love him enough because he is different.  As his mother, you are telling this baby that his life doesn’t matter. If he was like all of the other babies then his life would matter, but it doesn’t.”

Maggie didn’t answer for some time. She stared at a stir stick on the floor and stroked her bulging stomach. Mary sat in silence with her dear friend.

“I know his life would matter to his father and I.”

“Of course Maggie. And what if he does something amazing in his life?”

“Like what?” Maggie looked up at her friend and smiled with one side of her lips.

“I don’t know, donate blood or save a life or something. He may be a doctor and heal a lot of people.”
Maggie listened to her friend and added, “Or a teacher. Someone needs to teach those rabbis a thing or two.”

Mary added, “Or a fisherman who saves a lot of people on a boat from drowning.”

“Maybe,” thought Maggie, “He could become a cook or a bread baker and feed a lot of people.”

“I do love bread.” Mary agreed. “I just found a new recipe for my bread machine!”

“You need a new recipe like I need a bottle of wine during this pregnancy.”

They both laughed and drank their beverages letting the warm liquid inside.

Maggie looked intently at her friend. “Seriously, what about his agonizing death? What will I do then?”

“Sit by his feet. Do not leave him. Stay with him until the end.”

“Then what?” Maggie asked.

“Bury him.”

“But I will be all alone!” Maggie already looked lonely.

“Honey, I have a feeling your son will find someone to look after you. Trust me.”

“I love you Mary.”
“I love you too.”

“So have you picked out a name yet?
“No, I am going to talk to his dad about that. Oh, Mary?”
Maggie asked hopefully, “One more thing?”

“Anything you ask,” Mary gave her a motherly gaze.

“Would you help me with the nursery?”

“Of course Maggie,” Mary said standing up. “That is the fun part!”

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