Life is a series of choices, and the ripple effect from the decisions we make, for good or ill, impacts not only our own lives, but sometimes the lives of others, even people we've never met. An elderly African-American woman, Emma Davis, who knows this, sits quietly praying in a hospital waiting room. Her great-grandson, 17-year-old Jonah, is in desperate need of a heart transplant, and time is of the essence as his own heart is rapidly failing.
Also in the waiting room is Jim Hanover, who is having the worst day of his life. His son and the light of his life, 17-year-old Billy, who was critically injured in this morning's football game, lies in a room a short distance away, being kept alive on life support until his ex-wife, Peg, is able to fly home from a business trip.
Emma and Jim exchange stories before they are eventually joined by their families, Emma's grandson, John, an electrician, and his wife, Linda, an elementary school teacher; and Jim's in-laws, the Carlson family, with whom he remains close. His ex-wife is so absorbed with her career as an attorney that she left Billy's upbringing to Jim and her mother and sister. Jim's mother-in-law, Martha, suffered a stroke a while back and is unable to speak. She is, however, able to write notes and takes full advantage by ringing a small bell she wears around her neck when she requires attention. Her notes, not to mention the ringing, have the power to bring conversations to a screeching halt while mortifying her children.
Martha's daughter and Peg's sister, June, who never married, lives her life according to a philosophy she learned as a young girl growing up during the late 60's and early 70s. Anthems like "All You Need is Love" and "Give Peace a Chance" define her personal belief system.
The last member of the Carlson family is financially successful son and brother, Craig. Craig's philosophy is, "I got mine." Craig is an atheist. Craig is also a self-centered, narcissistic bastard.
The confluence of the Davis/Hanover/Carlson clans and various personalities ultimately leads to a heated argument between John Davis and Craig Carson, who makes it personal by dragging race into the issue. Only the sound of a Code Blue alarm ends their physical altercation.
All is forgotten as Jonah's condition worsens and Peg finally arrives. When she discovers that Jim has signed an agreement to donate Billy's organs, her fury at her circumstances finds a handy target. She will not allow her son's organs "to be harvested." It will not happen. Peg orders her family to leave and finds herself alone with Emma. Feeling defensive, she wonders aloud whether Emma thinks she's hateful for refusing to sign the consent, but Emma doesn't judge. Instead, she consoles Peg by saying that we are constantly making choices, some work out good, others bad, concluding that whatever decision we make, the only thing we can be sure of is that, "Life don't give us no do overs."
Emma leaves, and Peg gathers her things as she walks toward the exit and comes to an abrupt halt. Something feels different, she feels different. And she knows exactly what to do.
As soon as she signs the consent, Pegs knows she's done the right thing. What she isn't expecting are hand-written notes from the grateful recipient families. Off-stage voices recite each one as a sobbing Peg holds the letters, and the spirit of her son, close to her heart.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Accioli