A seventy year old woman is waiting at her physician's office in a hospital gown. Her name is called by a secretary, and she calmly gets up to walk to the desk. She is told that her doctor is waiting to speak with her in his office, where he has the clothes she arrived in.
After some time, she exits the office in her dress, shawl, and shoes. She is clutching a manilla envelope. She is wide-eyed, calm, and content. Her face glistens with the fresh residue of tears.
The woman's granddaughter is waiting in her sedan, parked in an adjacent parking structure. She is listening to music on the radio. The woman shuffles to the passenger seat door and enters the car. The granddaughter instinctively starts the car and begins backing out of the parking space. As they're leaving the parking structure, the granddaughter notices the manilla envelope held by the woman. She stares at it, missing her signal to turn onto the road. She ***** her head back forward, and her lip quivers before gradually morphing to a smile. She turns off the radio before continuing their trip home.
The woman enjoys many nights with her relatives and friends, hosting dinner parties and being treated to recreational outings.
When the woman meets friendly acquaintances or loved ones in public, they always deliberately congratulate her before swiftly and gracefully continuing their conversation as normal.
One month after the previous doctor's visit, the woman is awakened by breakfast in bed, prepared by her daughter and granddaughter who are both doing their best to contain their beaming excitement.
"These deviled eggs are wonderful. I knew you would share the skills I taught your mother."
The woman's daughter asks her if she'd like some privacy.
"Oh, no. The more the merrier! I almost couldn't sleep with how much I wondered who would be standing in my kitchen right now. Feel free to let them in, just one at a time at first if you wouldn't mind."
The woman's daughter exhaled in delightful affirmation, and obliged. The daughter and granddaughter left the woman's bedroom.
A tall man named Harvey with white hair, a scully cap, and glasses put down a mimosa that he was nursing onto the kitchen counter. He smirks when he notices the woman's daughter nodding loudly as she walks towards the crowd. Harvey turns to the rest of the small, tight-knit crowd who are enjoying each other's company in the kitchen. He pardons his interruption, asking if they mind that he go first. Empathetically, everyone in the room encourages him to proceed.
Harvey enters the woman's room.
"Oh my lord! I wish I'd finished that script!"
Harvey chuckles at the woman's remark, bending over to hug her in her bed. The woman gleefully reciprocates, with a grape still bouncing around her mouth.
"You know, I give you full permission here on out to use or adapt anything in my vault. Consider it my retirement gift. If you need to talk to any of the new people to get the rights, just call Diane about it first. She'll straighten it all out."
Harvey praises the woman's work, saying he couldn't do any of it justice. He thanks her for the gesture, but says it won't be necessary. They spend almost fifteen minutes reminiscing with one another.
He asks her how she's feeling.
"Great, actually. Now that I've had more time to process all my feelings recently, especially with everyone else, I feel more dignified. I feel ready for what's to come. I'm surprised we're one of the few cultures of this world that do this. I always knew that this is how we meant it to be, but I was still scared of the future and didn't quite trust the process. Now I'm confident since I've felt that the process is itself trusting me. Does that make any sense?"
Harvey thinks it does. He asks if the woman would like to speak to some of the others, and she agrees.
Over the course of ninety minutes, a hearty handful of relatives and close friends visit the woman in her room in small groups, thanking her for everything they've given them and receiving her own loving compliments in response.
After everyone's spoken to her individually, they all excitedly rendezvous in the kitchen with a pastor. The last of a charcuterie board is picked at by the younger attendees while the daughter speaks to the pastor, who arrived within the past half hour. The daughter is nervously trying to clarify procedural details with the pastor, but the pastor replies speedily and in a reassuring tone.
All the visitors file back into the woman's bedroom, lining the perimeter and encircling her bed. The pastor proudly strides to the center of the room, facing the woman who is practically glowing with honor.
The pastor introduces himself out of formality to the room, but with an infectious sense of levity in acknowledgement that everyone's already acquainted with him. He thanks the woman for electing him to be the officiant of this traditional meeting. He joyously espouses a soliloquy of his personal admirations for the woman, recounting their bonding memories. He acknowledges the mutual love in the room, recognizing those in attendance.
He reaches a cadence, announcing that everyone is gathered in this room today to deliver a greeting of congratulations-in regards to some landmark information-to the woman.
The pastor looks directly at the woman and calmly says "congratulations, Eve. You're dying."
Grape juice leaks onto her blouse from the side of her mouth.