Elective Life-Saving Measures

Tears glittered in her eyes like tinsel. Maribel’s cancer returned bringing tidings of great fear. There was no holiday hope for her Stage IV diagnosis. The Medical Choice Act of 2140 now listed chemotherapy as an “elective life-saving measure”, resting the responsibility of payment on the patient. Quality health had officially become another luxury of the rich. When Maribel considered her small savings, she lamented the loss of the 21st century’s only semi-corrupted medical care.

As she strolled along the lane of storefronts, the gold glittered garlands of pine competed with the shadows like sugar plums that danced in her head. The gamble of spending her savings on herself could end with the same result as spending for her family. She passed a small child with a bucket of change and a painted sign that read “Tis the season for giving.”

The spirit of charity filled her. If she couldn’t be with those she loved for long, she would get them something they could love forever. As quickly as her body would allow, she moved from store to store, selecting the most precious products to evoke the most meaningful memories for its recipient.

Christmas Day brought her to her family’s home, heart and arms full. Her father and brothers unloaded her treasures and ushered her in to sit by the fire. Family greeted, hugged, kissed, and prayed. At gift-giving time, she urged everyone open the keepsakes she had brought first. Her joy came as they all opened, thanked, and attempted to mask sorrow with enthusiasm. Her father presented the only thing under the tree for her: an envelope with a check enclosed, enough to cover fifteen chemo treatments and a promise to pay for more. He carefully embraced her frail body and whispered, “Merry Christmas Punkin. We love you.”

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