Forever passed in the few minutes they all sat, all in stasis within their memories of loss. Had the shiny, hard, hospital floor been of a more comfortable material and temperature, Wil never would have moved.
Dr. White shifted to a new position. “This floor is harder than I thought,” he apologized; using his practiced, sympathetic smile. The Winters family turned to him, more alert than they’d been upon his entrance.
Rob sighed. “You probably want us to leave.”
The grief counselor’s expression became softer. “No, of course not.” He shifted again, smiled again. “I merely came in to see what I could do for you. To help. I also,” he repositioned a third time, “suggest, perhaps, we move to the chairs.”
Rob nodded; Wil saw the movement in her peripheral vision as her attention was focused somewhere on the base of the bed. She heard her father rise, followed by the rustling coat chorus of Jakob. “C’mon, Wil,” her stepbrother encouraged. She turned her head toward the sound and saw a hand extended; took it with her own. Somehow, not under her own power, she rose. She found herself walking, turning her body, sitting. She felt Jakob sit beside her.
A scraping noise to her left drew her attention. Dr. White dragged his own chair over and set it to the front and side of her father. 10 o’clock, Wil thought, As Mr. G. would say.
The counselor set his clipboard on his lap and folded his hands atop it. “When Beatrice passed last year, she did so here -very near to here.” He paused. “I knew who would come in to talk to me and what they would say, since I worked as the grief counselor then, too.”
He waited. Wil glanced his way, still adrift and apart. She saw her father raise his head to meet Dr. White’s eyes.
“This won’t be easy,” Dr. White said, “So we’ll take it one step at a time.”
Rob stiffened. He looked toward the bed, then back to the counselor.
“If you all would like to stay here, I will walk you through things.” He looked at Wil; she seemed to see through him, through his white-blue gaze to the wall behind.
“I’m staying,” Jakob gruffed.
Wil, again of some force she did not control, nodded.
“Very well,” Dr. White continued. “We’ll start with what is written here.” He lifted a page of notes from the clipboard, glanced over them, and flipped to another behind those. “Cynthia.” Pause. “Your mother.” Another pause. “She wished to have her body donated to the research hospital.” He paused again. “In her words, ‘To help others with cystic fibrosis to find a cure.'”
The counselor looked up at each of them, ending with Rob. “Is this still your wish?”
Rob turned his head to the bed again. As he stared at his wife, unmoving, Wil saw a single tear slide down his unshaven cheek. “Yes,” he answered.
©2019 Chelsea Owens