Alma found Harlan in the waiting room.  He was reading the Bible and didn’t notice at first when she sat down next to him.  She waited quietly.
“Well, Momma, let’s go check in our room. I am tired,  they let me have Danny’s things.”
Harlan began gathering the belongings around him, a clear plastic bag of Danny’s personal effects, his own blue duffle bag and jacket.  He looked tired, worn.  This time it was taking a toll on him.
Alma took the duffle bag, and Harlan’s arm letting him lean on her without giving the appearance of needing her assistance.  She had always admired his pride, until now.  It was adding to her burdens.
The hospital called shortly after supper. Harlan was asleep after his watered down broth.  Alma spoke to the charge nurse and made plans to return to the hospital to sit with Danny until he woke. She left crackers and water by the bed.  While getting the ice bucket filled she purchase a few treats she thought Harlan’s stomach might tolerate, checked at the desk for local restaurants that delivered, and left him a note with phone number and room, including the nurse’s name she spoke with and menus.  Pausing in the car before heading to be there for someone else. She said a prayer of patience, resilience and strength.  Off-handedly she threw a ‘Why me’ at the end before she could stop herself.
At the hospital Alma met the nurse face to face. A sharp young woman who walked her to Danny’s room.  Explanations that he would be pale, with several IV’s going.  They would be checking in on him regularly, if she had any questions to please ask.
Danny was pale.  Alma knew the look. Harlan didn’t have the same reaction, but over time the treatments had worn him down to this.  Danny probably could associate more with Alma up until today, Leighann had passed away after some long illness, though she couldn’t remember what. She tried to remember how long after Daniel was born before Leighann had passed.
A cell phone rang in the room, drawing Alma out of her memories. She looked for the phone, checking to see if the sound woke Danny after every ring.  Alma found it in the drawer of the bedside table.  The number  and  caller’s name light up ‘Theo’.
Stunned, Alma couldn’t decided what to do. She had not thought of Theo in so long. She panicked when it rang again, grabbing the phone and answering.
“Hello, Theo?”
A pause, no response. Alma repeated herself. Finally, Theo responded.
“Allie?  What are you doing answering my brother’s phone, is he all right?”


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