Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more, day by day,
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 – 1897)
She felt the light in the warmth of the sun on her eyelids. And when the sun set, she could feel the light fade, counting out the days in her mind. The sun had risen and the sun had set three times since she had been brought to this room.
Through the time between the sun rising and setting, bodies floated in and out of the room, checking monitors, tucking bedding, making soft noises. She knew because the light would fade and brighten, and then fade and brighten again. It was becoming harder and harder to focus, but for the sounds of the monitors. How familiar they were – the soft hum pulsated the rhythm of her life.
She felt a hand gently stroking hers, warm and small and soft. She did not know who it was, only that it was not him. She felt herself drifting and tried to hold on as the day declined into evening. The counting of the hours helped her to focus. Then, it was four times since she had been brought to this place that the sun had arisen and the sun had set.
Two people stood outside the room, observing the woman in the bed. The partition had not been drawn. One commented to the other about how tragic her circumstances were. 'So young, only 84 – sudden collapse. She had carried a virus that lay dormant for 30 years, picked up on some Godforsaken planet on the outer edges of the old Klingon Empire.'
Neither knew who had made the arrangements for her care, but the instructions were specific: keep her body, and thereby, her brain, alive for as long as there was brain activity. That was all the chief medical officer had relayed to the staff.
'She had been a commended officer…a well respected physician and scientist…was there no one who cared for her now?' they had wondered. Oh, there had been flowers and cards aplenty. So many, the hospital had begun to send them to other patients. Some of the cards had been handwritten: 'With deep appreciation of your service….I send this in memory of my grandmother….With deepest devotion for your friendship….'
A few visitors from the star base scientific community had come by, on the first day, but no one since. She had outlived most of her closest friends and the ones who were left were scattered to far away parts of the Galaxy. Calls continued to come in asking about the status of her condition, Admiral McCoy checked in daily, but no one came to sit with her, except the staff.
It was evening, on the fifth day after the woman had arrived. The activity outside the room was normal for evening rounds. A doctor went into her room and stayed for only a few moments.
A nurse came into the room to change the med-port. At that moment, one of the monitor readings started to spike. The wave that monitored the brain had been active since the woman had arrived – she was aware, but couldn't move, couldn't communicate. The brain waves had been falling off steadily since the third day.
Now, they had spiked. Before the nurse could react, he turned to find CMO M'Benga at the door. The doctor was with someone, someone not only recognizable, but legendary.
Dr. M'Benga asked the nurse to leave the room. There was no utterance from the visitor; he stood silently fixed on the patient's face. The nurse tried to explain to M'Benga about the spike in the brain activity, but the doctor silenced him, again requesting he leave the room, and the nurse reluctantly complied. Dr. M'Benga followed him, closing the viewing partition as he left, and then closed the door behind them.
Only the visitor was left in the room with the patient.
The room was quiet, except for the rhythm of the monitors and the machines that were keeping the blood and oxygen pumping through her body.
The visitor traversed the distance from the door to the bed in a few smooth, deliberate strides, then looked down at her face. It was peaceful. There were only traces of silver in her brown hair. He knew that under the closed lids, her eyes would still be as blue as Aurellian topaz.
In their fifty nine year history he had held her hand, but not as he clutched it now. With her hand still in his, he placed the fingers of his right hand on her cheek and temple and leaned in closer, his mind-voice a whisper.
"I am here."
"I have waited."
"You will not have to wait much longer. We will be one."
"One….and all…and together."
"I have no regrets."
"Nor do I. But, you have given so much, and asked for so little in return…..you deserved more."
"So did you."
"I want you to know…"
"Shhh,….I have always known."
It took only a few seconds for the waves on the brain monitor to flat-line. He was not just taking her mind, but her soul; he absorbed everything she was.
The machines keeping the organs and tissue alive still pulsated. All that the woman had been was gone from the body, the hand lifeless now.
They let it go. Then, they rose from the bedside.
All they had known, all they had learned, all they had been, and all the memories of friends lost went with them as they walked out of the room, down the corridor, and into the night.