Amelia Gold had always been everyone’s sweetheart. Anyone who met her liked her almost instantly. It could have had a lot to do with her bubbly personality or the fact that she was hands down the most perfect person in the world. There was something about how she carried herself, how she always seemed to light up the room. She was a petite black dark haired woman who seemed to have a thing for short dresses because as far as she was concerned, it gave her some kind of height. If she was not in a knee length dress and a pair of heels, she was in a pair of skinny jeans and heels. She could have done anything to do give herself a few extra inches on her five four height.
When she first left Elle to interview for Dalton Wear, the world thought she was making the biggest mistake of her life. After all, why would she leave a promising career in a leading fashion magazine to work for a small up and coming designer? But Amelia knew that Leo Dalton was the world’s next big thing as far as fashion was concerned. The only person who seemed hell bent on supporting her until the fat lady sang was her grandmother. She had always had the motto ‘no fruit of my loins would ever have a bad idea’. She knew Amelia had the bigger picture in mind. After all, she was leaving Elle where she was a simple assistant fashion editor to Dalton Wear where she was going to be a head designer. To Amelia, this was a giant leap ahead but to everyone else, she was trying to commit career suicide. Her interview at Dalton Wear went better than okay. Not only did she get the job, she got right to work and her own designs were going to be featured in the next show…the Milan Fashion Week.
But even though she had impressed Leo Dalton, she had a grave secret. Her grandmother had been having health complications for the last six months. At first, it had been all about her kidneys but soon enough things began to escalate. This day, it was her heart, the next day it was her lymph nodes and the next it was something to do with her thyroid. But everything hit the fan when her liver began failing. That was the beginning of the long nights in hospital. She would have done anything to do right by her grandmother but it seemed like the universe was working against her. She was not a match for a liver transplant which also got her out of the shortlist for the kidney transplant. Her sister, Amanda who was only three years her senior also wasn’t a viable donor. All they could do was watch as their beloved grandmother, their last living grandparent slowly got closer and closer to death’s door.
And this was especially hard for Amelia who was closer to her grandmother than her sister could ever understand. After their parents passed away in a car crash when she was twenty three, her grandmother who had always been present in their lives stepped in and made sure no one ever took advantage of their parents’ estate. She did not even take the fifty grand her children had left her. Instead, she put all that money in a trust for Amanda and Amelia’s children. But now that she seemed to get worse and worse, Amelia didn’t know whether she was able to handle what was to come. She was trying hard to smile through her last meeting of the day. All she wanted was to walk out of there and get back home. She could not get her grandmother out of her mind. She had been so frail lately, so helpless that every time she took a deep breath, Amelia would panic. She was almost too sure of what was about to come next. It was inevitable but she just couldn’t bear the thought of losing Grandma Leila.
“Miss Gold, this was impressive as usual,” her boss Leo Dalton said with a smile. “The African and Asiatic touch to the spring collection is what will make our brand stand out.”
“Yeah, watch out Kors and Versace. It’s Dalton Wear’s time now,” Ava Richmond, Dalton War’s head of creative said with a smile.
“Great guys. I’m just happy you liked what I came up with,” Amelia said.
“Alright. Get these design samples out to the tailors. I want a complete line up by the end of the week,” Leo said as the three began walking out of the board room. Amelia looked at her phone and sighed.
“Three thirty,” she thought. “I can beat traffic if I leave now.”
Leo and Ava were talking about distribution as they walked but Amelia was not listening to them. She was already calculating how much time she would take to get from the office building to the hospital. It was early enough but there was also the slight chance that something might have gone wrong in the day. After all, accidents do happen.
“Miss Gold?” Leo called out snapping her out of her thoughts and back into reality. She turned to look at him.
“I asked if you can handle the distribution chains or will it be too much for you? I can get the marketing department on it if you want.” Leo was looking at her intently.
“That sounds great.”
Leo raised an eyebrow at Amelia.
“Which part exactly?”
“The outsourcing it to the marketing department part. I will be too buried in the creative and design to do a good job on the distribution,” Amelia pointed out. They were now standing right outside her office. “But I will be happy to look in on the progress and report back to you and Ava.”
“Great. We will be in touch,” Ava said as the two of them walked away. Amelia dashed into her office and grabbed her bag before she stuffed her tablet in. She grabbed her keys and quickly made it to the elevator. She could hear someone talking to her but she was not really paying attention. All she wanted to do was get away from the workplace and be at her grandmother’s side. She had made it a point not to mention what had been going on in her life to her bosses. She had just been at Dalton Wear for just a couple of months and she didn’t want to give the company a reason to think she could not handle her own. And even though she was leaving work a whole two hours earlier than she was supposed to, Amelia was convinced she had done more than her fair share of the eight to five workday. She was a nervous wreck throughout the half hour drive to the hospital. Her grandmother’s doctor had been very clear when he told her she should consider the fact that Grandma Leila would not live to see Christmas. It was definitely a hard thing to think about but she could not very well ignore the fact that the doctor might have been giving her a warning.
When she finally got a parking spot, it was almost ten past four. She was half walking half running to the wards, cursing the hot heels that made her look ever so sexy. When she got to Grandma Leila’s room, her boyfriend Chad was waiting for her out of the door. She could immediately tell that all was not well.
“Hey,” Chad said forcing out a smile when he saw her.
“What is it? What happened?” Amelia asked as he looked at him. Chad shook his head and pulled her into his arms. He kissed her cheek softly and stroked her honey hair.
“Nothing happened, baby. It’s okay. Everything is okay,” he said in a soft voice.
“But why do you look so worried?”
“Doctor Van Der Heusen is in there with her, that’s all. We can’t go in right now.” Chad was still stroking her hair as he talked softly.
“I’m scared…I don’t know how much longer I can take this,” she said as a single tear began rolling down her cheek. She looked into his eyes as he brushed the tear off using his thumb.
“I know,” he said in a soft voice. “I know.” He took her hand and led her to a bench outside Leila’s room. “Come on, have a seat. You look exhausted.”
“I am,” Amelia started as she exhaled loudly, again. “I gave the presentation today.”
“Really? How did it go?”
“Leo loved it. And Ava too. Guess this is the next big thing as far as fashion is concerned,” she said with a smile. “Leo said so himself.”
“Well, I’m glad,” he said just as Amanda, Amelia’s sister and her boyfriend Mark walked up to where they were.
“Hey,” Mark said as he gave Amelia a long tight hug. “You okay?”
“Honestly Mark, I’ve been better,” Amelia said before she gave her sister a hug.
“What is going on? Why are you both out here?” Amanda asked.
“Doctor Van Der Heusen is in there with grandma. Tests, cleaning, the usual.” Amelia interlaced her fingers with her sister’s. “He should be out in a few minutes.”
“Are you alright?” Amanda asked. “I mean, you were always so close to Grandma Leila, more than anyone.”
“I’m okay, I guess.” Amelia tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I think I am officially numb from all this and work and…” her voice trailed off and then she turned to look at Amanda. “I’m just tired, sis,” she finally said, forcing out a smile.
“It’s a lot for everyone,” Amanda said.
Just then, the doctor walked out of Grandma Leila’s room. As if on cue, Amanda and Amelia walked up to him almost immediately. They were looking up at him, their eyes full of hope that Doctor Van der Heusen would give them some kind of good news.
“Ladies,” he started with a soft sad look in his eyes. “I know I have suggested a hospice over and over again…”
“We are not taking our grandmother to a hospice,” Amanda said curtly cutting the doctor off. From the corner of her eye, Amelia saw Mark placing a reassuring hand on her sister’s shoulder.
“I know but her stats are not changing. If anything, she is just getting worse and she seems to be taking a turn towards that point of no return.” The doctor was now looking at each Gold girl in turn. “Even with the machines, we cannot do anything if she codes at this point.”
“What does that mean? What do you mean when you say you cannot do anything?” she asked. Doctor Van der Heusen looked at Amanda.
“You didn’t tell her?” he asked.
“Tell me what? What the hell is going on?” Amelia asked. She was now getting antsy. She’d had a bad feeling all day and maybe, just maybe, this was it. “Well, someone had better talk right the fuck now!”
“Language Amelia!” Amanda said in a loud whisper.
“I’ll leave you to talk alone,” the doctor said before he began walking away but Amanda held his hand.
“No. Stay.” She said without looking at him.
“Grandma Leila signed a DNR, Amelia,” Amanda finally said after what seemed like forever.
“A DNR? What the hell is that?” Amelia asked feeling more confused than ever.
Amanda looked at Chad who was now taking Amelia’s hand.
“Why won’t you guys talk to me?” Amelia asked, feeling even more frustrated.
“Baby, A DNR is a Do Not Resuscitate order. It means that Grandma Leila does not want to be brought back if she begins showing signs…” Chad never got a chance to finish his sentence.
“The hospital is going to let Grandma Leila die?” she asked, her voice quavering. She could feel herself slowly losing hope in everything.
“They will not let her die. They just won’t do anything to stop the process, that’s all,” Mark explained.
“How is that different from what I just said?” Amelia asked. Her voice was now louder than she had intended to use. Doctor Van der Heusen looked at her and sighed.
“Your grandmother was trying to save you the heartache of an impossible situation and as things stand right now, I can tell you for a fact that things will only get worse. Her organs will begin shutting down and all that will happen in a matter of hours.” Amelia choked back a tear. “I suggest you begin making your peace with the situation right now.”
Amelia was not sure whether it was her body acting up or that the room had suddenly gotten a few degrees hotter. She didn’t even realize when a tear began rolling down her cheek. She turned and looked into Chad’s eyes.
“Did you know about this?” she asked and he shook his head.
“But baby, you have to understand….” Chad started but Amelia didn’t want to hear anything. She pulled away from his grip and walked away leaving a worried Amanda staring after her.
“Go with her. Make sure my little sister is okay,” she said looking at Chad who was nodding. “I don’t know if I can stand seeing her like this, Mark. I mean, mom and dad’s death was hard enough but this…” she started before Mark held her close.
“Amelia is stronger than she looks. She will be okay,” he said softly as he ran his hand up and down her back.
“Can I come in?” Chad asked as he sat down next to Amelia. She nodded and sniffed back yet another tear. “You know as much as you hate the idea, you have to go into that room and say your goodbyes to Leila, right?”
Amelia shook her head and turned to look at him.
“I don’t think I can,” she said in a soft voice.
“Remember when you told me that the one thing you wanted more than anything was a chance to say goodbye to your parents?” Chad started as he took her hand in his. “Well, like it or not baby, Leila doesn’t have a lot of time with us and you are being given the one thing you never got with your parents.” He began running his thumb on the back of her hand slowly. “You can have the goodbye you deserve with Leila,” he added in a soft voice.
“But what if I can’t do it?”
“I’ll be right there with you, Amelia. I won’t let you do this alone. You know that you will hate yourself if she goes and you don’t get a chance to do this, right?” She nodded and he stood up. “Come on, then. I’ve got you,” he said as he helped her up gently. He held her face in his hands and kissed her softly. “This is the right thing to do,” he whispered as he pressed his forehead against hers.
“I know but it still sucks,” Amelia said making Chad smile.
“I know it does. Doing the right thing usually sucks,” he said as they began walking back to the wards.
When they got there, Amanda and Mark were already inside and Amelia knew almost immediately what her sister was doing. The few minutes she spent waiting outside her grandmother’s hospital room were the longest she had ever had to endure. As she sat there, she realized she didn’t have the right words at all. There were no right words in her head but as she came to realize, there would never, ever be the right words. When her sister walked out, Amelia noticed her glossy eyes and she knew that if she didn’t get in at that moment, she would be too late. She walked past Amanda and walked into her grandmother’s room with Chad following close behind. Her heart was pounding as she looked at Grandma Leila.
“She looks so peaceful,” she said under her breath. “It’s like she is just asleep.”
“I know,” Chad said in a soft voice.
Amelia took her grandmother’s hand and smiled.
“When I was eight, Amanda and I used to get into all sorts of trouble stealing cookies and everything,” she started. “My parents, my mom especially was a little strict about having baked good…anything sweet really, before dinner.”
“All parents did…and some still do,” Chad said as he gently rubbed her shoulders.
“Well then I guess in that case Grandma Leila was my mom’s worst enemy because she used to sneak me her cookies in bed. My mother hated it,” Amelia said laughing even though there were tears rolling down her cheeks. “I am going to miss her so much,” she said as she gave her grandmother’s hand a little squeeze. At the back of her mind, she was hoping that Leila would squeeze her hand back but nothing like that ever happened. She was just lying there lifeless.
“Tell her what you would like her to know,” Chad said in a soft voice. Amelia was silent for a long time before she took a long deep breath.
“I hate that you want us to cremate you grandma,” she started. “I am a big believer of dust to dust. The whole ashes to ashes thing never made any sense to me but I guess to each his own, right?” She stroked her grandmother’s gray hair slowly. “I’m going to miss you so much grandma. I love you to the ends of the world and back,” she said. She lowered her head and slowly planted a soft kiss on her grandmother’s warm creased forehead. The monitor suddenly spiked making Amelia panic. “What’s happening?” she asked as she looked at the monitor.
“It’s her heart,” Chad said as he walked round Leila’s bed. He looked at her and felt her neck. “Really low pulse,” he said just as the doctor and two nurses walked in.
“What is happening?” Amelia asked in a panic.
“Her heart is failing,” Chad said in a soft voice. “Come on. We need to get out of here,” he said as he began pulling her out but Amelia didn’t want to move. She shook her head as she watched the doctors get a breathing tube down her throat. All this time she was praying that her grandmother wouldn’t code because if she did, that would be the end of her.
“I need to get an airway in,” Dr. Van der Heusen said as he held a tube in her mouth. “I can’t get in….get me a smaller one!”
Amelia watched as one of the nurses handed him a smaller tube. She was breathing hard as she watched what looked like an episode of a medical drama. She tightened her grip around Chad’s hand.
“I got it,” the doctor announced. “How are we doing?” he asked.
“Pressure’s still dropping” one of the nurses said.
“Let’s do…” the doctor started before the very familiar beep that signaled Leila’s heart rate was stopping. “Damn it!” he cried out as Amelia sunk to the ground. This was it. She was gone. Chad helped her up and walked her out of the room as fast as he could.
“She’s gone, isn’t she?” Amanda asked as she looked at Amelia and Chad. Amelia was too hysterical to answer but Chad nodded. Amanda looked at her sister as she walked to the bench and sat down. “She is going to need you, Chad. Now more than ever.”
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else if not by her side,” Chad said as he looked at Amelia. “I will always take care of Amelia, Mandy. No matter what.”
“I’ll talk to Van der Heusen about the funeral program,” she said in a sad voice.
“You do that. I’ll go check on her,” he said as he walked to where Amelia was. When he got there, she looked up and he sat down next to her. He brushed off the tears from her cheeks and looked into her eyes. “Even when you are sad, you are still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” Amelia smiled and another tear rolled down her cheek.
“She is gone,” she said in a soft voice
“I know,” he said nodding. “I know.”
“I got to say goodbye this time,” she said in a soft voice as he pulled her into her arms. She leaned against his shoulder. “I got to tell her that I loved her.”
“I hate that you are hurting baby, but I am glad you got closure,” he said.
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