Note to Readers:
I had originally intended for the storyline with Joy’s leukemia to last longer than it will. I found that writing it was bringing up too many bad memories and emotions for me. I realized that I can’t keep this storyline going for long. It makes me too sad! I’m sorry, but her illness will progress very, very quickly. It will conclude over the next couple of chapters.
“You have a call waiting on line five. I wanted to be with you when you take it.”
Alissa gave him a puzzled look and then took the call.
“Alissa Stallworth speaking.”
“Of course you can call me Alissa! I’m so honored. I’m a huge fan of yours too!”
“We’re taking it day by day. She’s still a very happy little girl. She doesn’t let us get down. She has always lived up to her name no matter how she’s feeling. She is a still a very joyful child and brings joy to all of us who love her. We know she’s going to get well again.”
“I’m so happy to hear that Alissa. I imagine that things are very hectic for you right now, but I’ve been wanting to meet you for quite some time. I know a lot about your past, and I think that you are such an inspiration and role model for other women. I know that your experiences and achievements would really help other women, and even now with Joy’s illness, you would encourage other families going through the same type of ordeal. I would like to come out there to Santa Fe and talk with you and get to know you. It’d be wonderful if you would agree to be a guest on my new show. It’s called “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”
“Of course, and I would also love to reciprocate by being a guest on your show when it starts production again. That is if you would like me to be a guest!” She laughed.
“Wow! That would be wonderful! Thank you so much Oprah!”
“Sure, and even though we’ve just met, I know we’ll become great friends. I can always tell. It’s just an instinctive feeling that I get with special people. If there is anything that I can do, Alissa, even if you’d just like to have a private conversation, please don’t hesitate to call me. This is my personal line, and you can call me anytime, day or night!”
She gave Oprah her private cell number. Oprah told Alissa that she would have her people contact Alissa’s producer, and they would make arrangements for the interview. She promised to keep in touch with Alissa.
After the call ended, Alissa told Mark what they had discussed, and he was just as excited as she was. Later when she was alone, Alissa remembered that she’d felt the same instant connection with Miki, and that Miki had said the same thing about their friendship. She smiled. Even during bad times, good things still happened.
Joy had been undergoing chemotherapy for three months now. She stood in her bedroom, deep in thought. She hated seeing the sadness in her family’s eyes whenever they looked at her. She always forced herself to smile, but when she was by herself, tucked into bed, she couldn’t hold back her tears.
When was she going to be well again? She couldn’t dance, and some days it was hard just to walk because she felt so weak. The chemo treatments made her stomach feel even more yucky, and all of her favorite clothes were too big for her now. Her aunt Crystal had given her a cap called a “cool cap” so that she wouldn’t lose all of her hair. She’d still lost some of it, but her Mommy styled it so that the missing hair doesn’t show.
“I’m sorry Cara.”
“Princess, you don’t have anything to be sorry for. I’m surprised you haven’t exploded before this. You’ve been so strong. Much stronger than I would have been if I was the one who was sick. You’re my hero Joy!”
Joy smiled up at Cara.
“I love you too!”
Cara hugged Joy tightly.
“Here Joy, you can keep him until you get well again. He can sleep in your bed with you. You can tell him when you’re sad. He always listens.”
Joy and Aiden both loved milkshakes.
“Any way you want it and yours too Aiden.”
They told her what they wanted, and Cara went down to the kitchen to make them.
“We need your answer as soon as possible so that you can all be tested to see if your marrow is compatible. If none of you are suitable, her name can be added to the list awaiting donor organs for transplants.”
“Dale, do you think it’s what we need to do for her?”
Alissa nodded her head, yes. Dale told Dr. Hodgekins their decision. They explained to the rest of the family what was happening, and the following morning they all went for testing. None of them were a match. Her extended family was also tested with the same negative results, and so her name was added to the list awaiting donors. A couple of weeks went by, and Joy’s condition was worsening.
Noah looked at his checking and savings account balances. He smiled remembering when he’d received the first check from Harley. He’d never before earned that much money nor had he ever expected to earn that much. He’d put some of it into checking and the bulk went into his and Sharlee’s savings account. They had been able to buy Sharlee her pregnancy wardrobe. He’d insisted that she get what she wanted because he wanted her to enjoy her pregnancy as much as she could.
He’d gone out of town for a few more sessions for Harley and a Harley rep had come to Santa Fe to meet with Noah and a local realtor to scout a location for the dealership. The work on building it had already begun. Sharlee entered the room and joined him on the bed.
A beautiful awed smile was on her face as she held her hand on her belly. “I just felt the baby move!”
Noah’s mouth had dropped open, and he immediately reached his hand out to see if he could feel the baby. He didn’t feel it move, but he did feel something there in her belly that he knew had to be the baby. He smiled too. It wasn’t long after that before Sharlee developed a small baby bump. Now at over six months, she had a nice round belly, and Noah could feel the baby move and kick against his hand.
Noah had missed his last two sessions and was supposed to have one tonight. He’d started taking his classes. He was trying to take as many as he could at one time so that he’d be finished sooner. He was even taking weekend classes. Between classes and studying, he was having a hard time balancing everything. He wanted to spend as much time with Sharlee as he could too. He felt like he was doing well and could afford to miss sessions with Sarge.
“Yeah, but it’s okay.”
Sharlee looked troubled and Noah sighed. The last thing she needed was something else to worry about. “I’ll call his receptionist and reschedule.”
“That’s good, Noah. I know I may not say it as often as I should, but I do appreciate everything that you’re doing for us.”
Noah lowered his head down to her belly. “I appreciate everything that you’re doing for us too!” He started talking to her belly the way he liked to do. Sometimes he read to the baby because he’d learned that it was good for the baby’s development. He also wanted the baby to be familiar with his voice too.
Sharlee looked at him tenderly. They couldn’t wait till the baby was born. It would be less than three months away. They had thought that learning the baby’s sex would make it easier to pick a name, but it hadn’t worked that way. They were still trying to find just the right name for their baby girl.
There were many people ahead of Joy on the list waiting for donors. Her school, Dale’s colleagues, and some celebrities, including Matthew, Phyllis Thorne and Oprah, had held benefits trying to find a compatible donor for Joy. So far there hadn’t been any success.
“Dale, does she have to be at death’s door before they bump her up on the list?”
“I’m sorry to say it, Honey, but that’s almost true.”
She was in the office stretched out on the loveseat, no longer in her bed like she was when she’d fallen asleep earlier in the evening. There was a man leaning over her and holding his hand tightly across her mouth.