Once again, all recognizable characters and plots belong to their creators, the rest I'll claim. Thanks again to everyone who read or voted in the 2012 Age of Edward Competition, I am thrilled to have an Honorable Mention.
Bone Deep, the Epilogue
Or How I learned to love the Death Star
Inspired by true events
In the spring of 1998, the national media exploded a story about a celebrity athlete's daughter in desperate need of a Bone Marrow Transplant. The beautiful young woman was a combination of heritages, faiths, and races. So far, no suitable donor had been found, but she was determined to spread the word, even if it was the last thing she did.
A photograph, withher famous father's arm around her shoulder, and hers around a group of smiling children - graced the front page of the Houston Chronicle.
Alice Whitlock glanced through the headlines on her coffee break. As a buyer for Dillard's, she was fortunate to work wherever her husband's career took her. The computer industry had been good to Jasper, as he'd moved from defense contracts to banking. The millennium memory crisis had them close to his home and none too far from hers. The article made her grateful for the health of Maria and Peter, now at school, and she paused to reflect.
Memories of a fateful day in her high school cafeteria: Alice was too tiny to donate blood that day, but she did persuade the volunteer to have her sample listed in the marrow donor's lists.
Six weeks later, she came home to her shocked mother. A call from the blood bank at first filled Charlotte Brandon with fear, and then pride, that the petite sprite of a daughter always found a way to help. It would take some doing to convince the Admiral, but after a good southern dinner and a little prayer, he gave his consent. Alice donated her marrow, just hoping she'd be up and about for the Sweetheart Formal. She ended up attending with her girlfriends.
Jasper Whitlock had not transferred to New Orleans until senior year. She was smiling at the memory when her cell phone rang. It was a producer from The Today Show, wondering if she'd like to meet the recipient of her marrow.
Bella could not believe her eyes as she opened the box. It contained a small print of a movie poster for The Empire Strikes Back. "Wherever did you find this, Will?"
William smiled and did a fist bump with his dad and then his little sister, bouncing a bit as he spoke. "It was at that crazy store in the mall. After we saw the movie and heard the whole story from dad I knew I had to get it for you. Ness picked out the frame."
Ness continued the tale, her hands moving in wide pantomime gestures as she spoke. "Mommy, after daddy told us he took you to that movie every night for a week straight, how could we not?" She finished with a little stomp of her feet, before declaring, "Okay, Mom, that is all the presents, so can I get your cake now?"
Will and Vanessa had conspired in the kitchen earlier in the day. They had baked a small cake, wanting a family celebration for their mom before the rest of the Cullen's gathered for a traditional Sunday dinner, as well as Bella's birthday over the weekend.
When they carried in the cake, Bella broke into a beautiful smile. The little cake with blue icing reminded her of the one Edward had baked and decorated it for her birthday senior year; it was the same shade of blue, and he'd put a Jawa and a R2D2 on the top with the candle.
As she blew out her candle, she made the same wish she'd made each year since '79
Please keep my loved ones safe, the ones I know and the one I don't. For how could her donation have been done out of anything but love?
The next morning, Bella and Edward both received startling phone calls from The Today Show's producers. They weren't half as surprised as those producers were when at a status production meeting, it was revealed that one of the donors had married one of the recipients.
It was going to be a busy week in New York.
The Empire Surprises Back
It was lucky that Emmett and Rose were in Houston for the week with their twins. Jasper wanted to accompany Alice to New York, and Em and Rose were more than happy to take command while they were out of town. It was just one night, after all.
Bella and Edward decided to take the kids with them to New York and asked the staff to arrange an extra day at their expense. It was close to their anniversary. They were given two rooms, and plane tickets for their children. They hoped the show would allow them to be on camera, in order to show how wonderful life could be for people after transplants.
Mary, Sarah, and Jack now all lived in a retirement community near Seattle, after George had passed in '96. Renee called to let them know about Bella and Edward being on The Today Show on Tuesday. They had all been habitual early risers, and retirement hadn't changed that habit. They promised to tune in.
Renee and Charlie would watch from Chicago. Esme and Carlisle were in Arizona, Carlisle having taken a position with the Mayo Clinic there the past winter.
Of course they would all watch. Jasper made sure Peter and Charlotte, along with his folks, were informed, and they watched from their condos in Biloxi.
The wake up call was early, and Bella found herself with the kids in one green room, designated donors. Edward was brought down the hall by an excited NBC page. Phil Dwyer, the former Major Leaguer, Cy Young award winner, and soon to be inducted into the baseball hall of fame, was waiting along with another gentleman and woman. Edward could tell the page was excited to meet the athlete, and he shook hands with him as well. Over coffee, he learned that he was the youngest when he'd gotten his marrow, and had to wait the shortest amount of time. Phil's youngest, his only daughter, Renee, was in need of the transplant. She was of mixed heritage and adopted. It was her plight that was driving the national call to increase the number of potential donors.
All eyes turned to the monitors as the commercials ended and Katie Couric introduced Renee and the three donors. First announced was a gentleman named Chris Cooper, who donated back in the early 80's. Cheryl Grey received the marrow, and walked onto the set with a big smile on her face. She crossed past Katie and enveloped him with a hug. They took their seats next to Renee. Phil came in and sat between Katie and his daughter during a commercial break. Next, Katie announced that one of the donors had married one of the recipients. A picture from their wedding filled the scene as Bella took her place at the edge of the set. A page took the children to stand near the cameras. Bella's smile was warm as she basically told her story to her children. "Katie, I was a junior in high school when I signed the form, so I never did learn fully who got the donation. It didn't matter to me, as I watched Edward, my husband now, go through his transplant at almost the exact same time."
"Thanks, Bella. You really did give a great gift, and your children are a testament to that gift giving back. Now, let's meet your recipient after this headline update."
Edward expected to be brought to the set. Instead, the page came for Will French, the other gentleman who'd been in the green room with them. He stared silently into the monitor, wondering who had saved his life?
As the news was announced, Bella stared over at the entrance to the set. She barely registered Katie Couric's voice as she introduced the gentleman who had received her donation. He looked vaguely familiar, without understanding why. Will walked over and gave her a hug. He explained he was named for his father, but his mother did not remember his last name, only knowing he was headed north to work on a fishing operation out in Canada. His mother had married when he was three and he was his son, never stepson. He proudly stated that there was no step in his vocabulary with his siblings either.
Finally, Edward was led onto the set during the next commercial. The cameras came on as he slid his arm around Bella. He, too, saw William and Vanessa, and he gave them a small wave.
Katie introduced him, and they spoke for a few moments about the transplant experience. At last, she announced it was time to meet his donor. When Edward stood to embrace the petite brunette, he couldn't help but notice they had the same cleft in their chins. Bella noted they had the same color eyes, too.
They all stood, Bella and Edward's children included, for a final shot, as Phil and Renee made the pitch for more members on the marrow donor registry, announcing since the campaign started, several more matches had been already made.
Phone numbers, emails, and addresses were exchanged. It was almost a foregone conclusion amongst the donors and recipients that some contact would be continued.
Mary spoke first. "So, such a resemblance, don't you think?" She placed her hands on her thighs, tapping her fingers against her knees.
Sarah and Jack were in a state of shock. They sat, unblinking for a moment. They had never really considered Edward's slight resemblance to Hale, but Alice had June's coloring and her father's face. Jack spoke first.
"Mary, we'd better get a reunion going. I have a feeling we know what happened to June and Hale's...?" He stood as he spoke and moved over to the window, unable to utter another sound.
Sarah went and got a pad of paper. "Time's wasting. What all do we need to do?" She held the pen and began to scribble names across the sheet. "I hope they'll come."
The TV in the kitchen had just gone to commercial when Renee poked Charlie "I think that girl looks familiar." She rose to search out the box of mementos.
Charlie had no answer; he'd never met June. He just thought they all looked good on national TV.
Renee had never known about June's marriage or missing child. Her aunt and uncle had been as silent on their daughter as her parents had about her brother. Will had left college and wrote he was working his way to Canada to work on a fishing boat. No other contact was ever made with any of the family, as far as she knew
Some might call this the Return of the Jedi…
Some say that all the secrets spill before the grave. A few months later, a group of wary adults approached their parents' headstones. Mary had organized the family reunion and brought Alice, Edward, and their spouses over to the cemetery. Not all the pieces were in place, but there was peace in learning their parents had been in love and married. Renee's photograph was one part. It was easy to accept the rest after they'd learned they shared the same birthday and were born at the same hospital. Mary had brought out Hale's flag and his medals. Alice's husband was a veteran and she took the flag for her family, Edward accepting his father's medals.
Life is not an exact science. Love cannot heal everything. Family can be more than just the people you know are related to you. Family also means those we choose to love. When they come together, miracles are more than possible; they happen every day.
This story was inspired by true events. Marrow donors are always needed. If you are so inclined, please register with your local Blood Center.
The young lady who was searching for a donor in real life did not find one in time, but her actions and courage in bringing her situation to light caused many, many other matches to be made
Thanks again to all my readers and reviewers, you are the reason I write.