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Was I Selfish

Story ID:7166
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
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I watched men land on the moon. The next day, my childhood friends and I
wanted to be astronauts. If you can excuse the pun, it was a lofty goal. There were many
things I wanted in life. I succeeded to reach a few. I failed at others. I wanted a steady
job, a wife, children and a home of my own. The moon was not an option, but I did find
love, children and a good job.

We wanted a bigger house. We worked hard for a year and reached our goal.

What life gives, life takes away. The good jobs came and went. The bigger house
was sold. We adjusted to the changes and kept reaching for another level of success. We
never let our goal of a financially stable life leave us. We’d reach it and then watch,
helpless, as it slipped through our fingers.

We moved on to the next job and prayed it would last.

Our children grew and made lives for themselves. Another goal reached.

One day, I sat in a hospital room and looked at my wife. Machines kept her alive.
“Mr. Smith?” the doctor asked entering the room.


“Georgia is not doing so well.”

I held back tears. “I know …” My words trailed off.

“Mr. Smith, there comes a time when we have to make decisions.” He paused to
let his words sink in. I knew it was going to be bad. “Mr. Smith, in the intensive care unit,
we strive to bring critically ill patients back to health. However, one question we ask
ourselves is, ‘Are we prolonging life or are we prolonging death?’”

His words struck a sharp blow. The tears spilled down my cheeks. I nodded for
him to continue.

“Mr. Smith, in Georgia’s case, I’m afraid we’re prolonging death.”

He placed a hand on my shoulder. I openly sobbed. He didn’t have to tell me it
was time to turn off the machines. I knew. I gained some semblance of control over my
emotions, looked at Georgia and finally asked, “When does it have to be done?”

“We don’t have to do it now. We can give you a few days to prepare.”

I needed time to think and thought of my daughter. “Can we wait until I fly my
daughter in from Ohio? She needs to be with her mother when she passes.”

“Yes, Mr. Smith. We can wait for your daughter, but not too long.”

“Thank you! Thank you so much, Doctor.”

He left the room. I sat alone with my dying wife.

A week later, she was gone.

There are questions I’ve asked myself many times since then: Why did I wait?
Was it for me? Was it for our daughter? Was it for my wife?

The bigger question is: Was I selfish?

Did I wait because I saw another goal – a wife – slipping away and tried to hang

Was I selfish? Is their an answer? I don’t know.

Michael T. Smith