Simon and Katie Frasier, and Katie's older sister, Margo Hughes, were having lunch and a discussion at a restaurant in Chicago.
None of them really noticed the decorative tanks with the tropical fish swimming around and around. None of them paid any attention to the easy-listening music playing in the background.
"Are you sure you want to go through with it?" Margo asked, careful to speak low enough to keep their conversation private.
Simon and Katie nodded their heads a bit sadly.
"After what the doctors told us," Katie said, "we don't see what else we can do."
"But it's still a child you are talking about ," Margo reminded them. "A child."
"Yes," Simon replied, "a child who would never be able to care for itself, who would have no mentality, who would be a virtual vegetable."
"Are the doctors absolutely sure that the child would be a... " Margo could hardly say the word... "vegetable?"
She picked, without much appetite, at her veal cutlet.
"They are almost 100% sure," Simon replied, taking a small sip of coffee.
"But there's still a chance..." Margo began.
"Much too slim a chance," Simon interrupted. He forced himself to take a bite of his steak.
"But it's still a life," Margo pleaded, "an innocent life!"
"Please remember," Simon told her, "that this is our decision, our choice, mine and Katie's."
"And," Katie said, "we can't spend the rest of our lives caring for a vegetable." She picked up her knife and fork, and tried to eat some of her lamb chops.
"So you are definitely going through with it?" Margo asked.
"Yes," said Katie. "The... procedure... will be performed tomorrow."
"And after that, I'm taking Katie out of town for a little while, so she can... relax and recover."
Margo wondered to herself whether Katie... and Simon... would ever really recover. Her heart broke for her sister and her brother-in-law, but even more for the niece or nephew she would never get to know.
"Look," Margo said, "I love you. I do not, I cannot agree with your choice, but that does not change the fact that I love you."
"Thank you for that, Margo," Katie said softly.
"And you'll take care of things while we are gone?" Simon asked.
"Yes. I'll bring in your mail every day," Margo promised, "and turn your porch lights on and off."
"Oh, and the most important thing of all," Katie said. "Please remember to water the houseplants."