A gift arrives in the mail.

It was a dark and stormy night…

She had finally arrived home, at the end of a long and spectacularly un-fun day. Oncology nursing, tumor board. Sad news about a dear young friend with advanced, drug-resitant Crohn’s disease. A lost battle with an insurance company. An extended wait for a return phone call from her father’s physician that never came. A screwed up medication refill that could easily have been handled by Nurse/Daughter, but cannot and will not be handled by the paid caregivers.

A desparate email from the father’s love of over a decade: she’s in England feeling cut off and left out. She wants to know why he can’t travel to Russia with her, where her friends “can heal him.”

He’s unshaven, he’s become confused about a minor medication change. Instead of taking the pills, or asking for clarification, he tucks them in his pocket, and decides to wait for his daughter to arrive.

On the way to the Foster Care Residence, his daughter asks if there is anything he wants… anything he needs.

“No,” he replies. At first.

But the pause is familiar to her, and telling.

“Are you sure, dad?”

“Well, a snack. You could bring me a snack. But only if it’s on sale.”

She ate dinner alone, while her husband took her son out bowling. Bowling is the most fun thing in their lives these days.

She ate in an odd little SE Portland French creperie, a few blocks away from the pharmacy. Phone in pocket, battery withering out, waiting for the truant physician phone call.

And then home, to find a gift that had arrived in the mail.


A most perfect gift, from a girlfriend she has been trading books with since the age of 13. From Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and William Goldman’s The Temple of Gold, to this.

Thank you Annie. I love you.




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