Decision of a Lifetime

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Syerra Milliman, Fluco Beat Editor

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Heaven was meant to reward those that had lived right by the Lord. Once you passed, you would be taken to the golden gate and wait to be escorted into paradise. This is nothing new to me, considering I had attended church every Sunday since I was born. My husband, Marshal, was also a religious man. We did our best to abide by the Lord’s rules and live the way a good Christian should.

It would seem that it all paid off, just not exactly how I imagined it would.

It was late Sunday afternoon. Having just arrived home from church, I started cooking dinner. When I finished, Marshal helped me set the table and we sat down. We had just said grace and began to dig into the hearty dinner I had prepared, when next thing I know, I’m standing at the golden gate with St. Peter asking me, “What do you think you’re doing here, Melissa? It isn’t your time.”

I couldn’t believe what I just heard.

“What?” I questioned back in astonishment. He opened his mouth to respond, but stopped and focused on something behind me. I turned to see an angel holding a clipboard walking briskly toward us. Upon reaching us, he handed the clipboard to St. Peter wordlessly. St. Peter thanked the angel, who turned and proceeded in the direction he’d come from, and flipped through the papers.   

“Well, that answers that question,” he mumbled. Reading off the paper he said, “Died Thursday, April 21, 2011, at 7:49 p.m. while eating dinner with husband. Death caused by airplane crashing into victim’s’ home, killing both Melissa and Marshal.”

He finished sifting through the papers and the clipboard hung at his side as he looked at me with sympathy. I was still in shock and couldn’t even try to comprehend what he was telling me.

There was no way I could be dead. I had no recollection of dying, or of Marshal dying. If he were dead, wouldn’t he be here too? I continued to stare at St. Peter in amazement with a questioning gaze.

He sighed again. “I know this can be…difficult to grasp, but there is an alternative option,” he said softly.

“Alternative? What does that mean?” I rasped out, finally finding my voice.

“As you can see, your husband has yet to arrive. I can assure you, as of right now he will definitely be granted entrance to Heaven but he’s still fighting. Your body is fighting as well, but you’ve almost given up, which is why you’re here.

“You have a choice,” he continued, “a very important choice to make. Would you give up your life to save your husband’s?”

I was honestly surprised he even had to ask. I didn’t understand why they would ask this; any good person would risk their lives to save the ones they loved.

I didn’t hesitate to reply, “Of course.”

He gave me a broad grin and began writing on the paper.

“All you have to do is sign, and your husband will be spared. You will be escorted into Heaven and from there, your loved ones will meet you and give you a tour. Then you will–,” he cut off abruptly, eyebrows furrowed and eyes widening in surprise. “No, no this can’t be,” he whispered.

“Is everything alright?” I asked in concern. He shook his head and looked up at me with moist eyes. His gaze shifted to my stomach and he said,” You’re with child, my dear. If you die, the child dies as well.”

I gasped in disbelief, hands grasping at my flat belly. There’s no way I was pregnant. The doctors told Marshal and me that I was unable to conceive.

“Impossible,” I whispered, tears forming in my eyes. I had always dreamed of having children, prayed to God everyday for months on end after getting the doctors’ news. I didn’t want to believe that I was not able to give birth.  

“Nothing’s impossible, dear. It seems your prayers were answered,” St. Peter laughed roughly, wiping the stray tears from his eyes.

I, however, burst into uncontrollable sobs so strong it brought me to my knees. My ultimate wish had been granted and taken from me before I had any knowledge of it. My sobs ceased suddenly as something dawned on me. I had to either give up my life to save my husband, killing my unborn child in the process, or let my husband die to save myself and my child.

“This is an impossible decision. How could you ask me to choose between my child and my husband?” I cried. “Why can’t I save them both? Just take me. Let them live!”

St. Peter reached out to wrap his arms around me in a comforting embrace. He patted my back as I cried on his shoulder, whispering sweet, comforting words to me. A flash of light lit up the sky briefly to reveal an angel carrying a large man. The man looked dazed before his gaze shifted to me and his eyes widened.

“Melissa?” my husband’s voice called out. No, it couldn’t be. They said he was alive, that he was still fighting. Did I waste my chance to save him?

“Marshal? NO! Why are you here? You’re supposed to be alive!” I shouted. He tilted his head in confusion and slowly approached me, taking in his surroundings.

“Where are we? I could have sworn we were just eating dinner,” he mumbled as he reached us. I flung myself at him, hugging him tightly. “Are you alright, darling? Tell me what’s going on,” he pleaded.

“We’re dead, Marshal,” I said monotonously. He pulled away from me like I’d burned him and stared at me in shock. “I know. It’s a lot to take in. St. Peter said a plane crashed into our house when we were eating. I’m barely hanging on, which is why I showed up before you, but he said you were still fighting. Why did you stop fighting? You shouldn’t be here.”

Tears streamed down my face at a steady pace and Marshal reached out almost out of habit to wipe them away. I could tell he was struggling to process this. I was struggling as well, and he pulled me to the ground with him.

“Are we really dead?” he asked St. Peter.

“Afraid so,” St. Peter replied with a weak smile. Marshal exhaled heavily before laying down and staring at the bright, white sky.

“Does this mean that the offer no longer stands? Are we both completely dead?” I questioned St. Peter.

He pondered over my question before revisiting the papers. As he reviewed them, Marshal raised his head to look at me in confusion.

“What offer?” he asked.

“I could save your life if I gave up mine. I was going to do it but…” I trailed off, realizing I forgot to tell him I’m pregnant. I knew he wouldn’t want me to die for him, but if he knew I was pregnant, he’d absolutely refuse. I hesitantly spoke, hoping he wouldn’t freak out, “I’m pregnant, Marshal.”

He froze. His eyes bulged out of his head and his mouth hung wide open. I laughed softly at his reaction, reaching out to caress his face. “I reacted the same way. We were going to have a baby,” I said.

“How? The doctors said it was impossible because you wouldn’t be able to–,” he sputtered out.

“I prayed everyday for months after we found out. God answered,” I said softly.

“I can’t believe it. A baby!” he exclaimed with a bright grin. He looked at my gloomy expression and his face drained immediately. “No. NO. You have to live. Don’t give up your life and our baby’s for mine. Save yourself. Please, Melissa!” he begged.

I shook my head in defiance. “I can’t. I want our baby to live, but not at your expense.” Marshal stood up and grasped my shoulders in a firm grip and looked me in the eyes.

“Melissa, save our child. Please, we’ve always wanted one. If you both die for me, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. We’ve always wanted a child, and now that we have one, I’m not letting it die,” he said sternly. In my peripheral vision, I could see St. Peter had finished searching through the papers.

“It seems the deal is still available. It’s all up to you Melissa. What’s your final decision?” he said holding out the clipboard and a pen. I glanced at Marshal one last time and I could see the determination in his eyes. I took a deep breath, wiped my tears, and gripped the pen and clipboard with shaky hands. I signed my name and handed it to St. Peter.

“I love you, Marshal. Do you have any preferred names?” I said weakly.

My husband smiled broadly and replied with tears in his eyes, “I love you too, Melissa. Joseph for a boy, Katrina for a girl.” My vision started to blur and my body felt as if it were floating. Marshal waved and shouted something that I couldn’t quite understand before he completely disappeared from my sight.

I woke up in a hospital room with a nurse checking my heart monitor.

“Hello, Mrs. Walsh. It’s nice to see you awake. You’ll be pleased to know your baby is just fine,” the nurse said cheerfully.

I sighed in relief and replied, “Thank you.” She nodded her head and when she was finished checking my vitals, she left.

Rubbing my stomach, I looked up at the ceiling and said, “ I hope you’re happy. I’ll take care of our child, but I expect you to be watching over us as often as you’re allowed.” I could almost hear his loud chuckle and I smiled. There was no doubt that I’d miss Marshal, but I knew that our baby was the best gift I could have ever received and I’d have been a fool to waste it.