When Elsie was seventeen she made a decision that would impact the rest of her life, now at 65, with a terminal diagnosis, Elsie looks back on that decision and the choice she made. What if she had chosen differently?
Elsie sat down with the doctor, Peter held her hand tight, she knew what was coming. Her body was worn, drained. The fight had gone and although she felt she shouldn't be, she was glad of it. His face was grim with the bad news he had arranged the consultation to deliver. She smiled at him, her dulling eyes trying to tell him that it was okay, she was prepared. She was ready. "I'm afraid the treatment has been unsuccessful." He finally said with a sad yet detached expression on his face. Elsie had liked him from the first referral, he was kind, caring and had a wonderful bedside manner. But at the end of the day he was a professional, he was being paid to tell people the positive and the not so positive. It was a job and at the end of the day he would hang up any sorrow or happiness with his uniform and go home to his wife (or husband, you never really know these days) and her impending death would just be 'another bad day at work'. Elsie nodded, calm and relaxed. She was ready, Peter on the otherhand was not. He let go of her hand and she turned to see his greying face fall as ugly mournful sobs escaped from his mouth. She reached over and put her hand on his shoulder. Telling him that they knew this was coming, everyone had to die some way. It was her time.
They rode home in silence after the appointment, all the information they wanted, and didn't, now known, how long Elsie had left (around three months), what medication was available to potentially extend this time ('no thank you') and even how it would be in the end (peaceful, just drifting off into a deep sleep). Elsie felt completely drained from it all and she looked over to the man behind the wheel, focusing far too much on the task at hand, guilt swept over her at the thought of leaving this brave, caring man behind. She had lived her life, it was time to make way for those who still had stories to create, but she would be leaving Peter behind. The man she had been through so much with, the man who had loved her for so long. She would be leaving him behind to grieve. Was that really fair of her? How selfish! She opened her mouth to say something but there no words to speak. She closed it again and looked on ahead, her mind travelling through all she had experienced.
Elsie was proud of what she had achieved in the past 65 years, she had made mistakes and there were some incidents she would rather not revisit but she had made it here, she was happy loved and was not one to look back with 'what if's' and 'if only'. Even now though, her mind wandered to the biggest 'what if' she had. She was seventeen again, facing the most difficult choice she would face in her whole life. What if she chose differently? Where would she have ended up then?