A Residue of Hope
Marika Bonetti is preparing dinner when she gets a phone call from the police informing her that the EMS has taken her daughter, Jessica, to the emergency room of the local hospital. Dropping everything, Marika drives to the hospital, where she learns that Jessica is in a coma from a drug overdose. Though her daughter has often gotten into trouble, Marika didn't know she was taking hard drugs, and she wonders where Jessica got the drug that has put her life in jeopardy. Marika's husband, Frank, arrives as they're taking Jessica to the ICU, and they speculate that their daughter may have gotten the drug from a person she met on social media, where she's always searching for someone who will love her and make her happy. At the age of thirty-two, Jessica doesn't have a job that pays enough for her to live independently, she doesn't have a real social life, and she doesn't have whatever it takes to avoid repeatedly getting into trouble. Over the next few days as Marika visits her daughter in the hospital and prays for her recovery, she wonders what she did wrong as a mother that made Jessica turn out this way, and looking for an answer, she examines her life as far back as she can remember. After all that has happened she still loves her daughter unconditionally, and she has a residue of hope for her, but her faith is challenged.
Marika was pounding a thin slice of chicken breast in a folded sheet of plastic wrap when suddenly the landline phone rang. Holding the mallet, she stepped toward the phone, which was on the counter, and she read its screen. She didn't recognize the number, but it didn't look like a robocall so she picked up the phone and answered it.
"This is Sargent Ramírez of the Yonkers police," a woman said. "Could I please speak with Mrs. Bonetti?"
"Speaking," she said, bracing herself.
"Are you the mother of Jessica Bonetti?"
"Yes, I am. What happened?" she asked, fearing the worst.
"I don't know what happened," the woman said, "but she's in the emergency room at St. John's Riverside Hospital, where the EMS took her about ten minutes ago."
"Oh, my God. Thanks for calling," she managed to say before turning the phone off.
She put the chicken into the refrigerator and, grabbing her keys and pocketbook, she rushed out to the driveway and got into her car. She drove out onto Bellevue Place and turned left onto Park Avenue and then right onto Roberts Avenue, which took her down the hill to North Broadway, where she headed north. The hospital was a half mile away.
She turned into the entrance and into the visitors' lot, where luckily she found a place to park. Aside from having her babies there, she had come to the hospital many times over the years on visits to her father and later to Jessica, a frequent flier. Before getting out of the car she opened her pocketbook and found a mask and put it on. It was more than a year since the covid epidemic began, and though they now had vaccinations it was still infecting and killing people.
Quickly she walked from the lot to the entrance of the hospital, stopped at the reception window to show the man her vaccination card, and strode to the elevator that would take her down to the emergency room. The elevator took forever to arrive at the main floor, but it finally did, and she stepped aside while people got out. She got into the elevator and pressed the floor of the emergency room. As she descended she prayed silently with her eyes closed, beginning as usual: "Lord, please strengthen my faith, renew my hope, and deepen my love."
When she got out she proceeded directly to the reception window and told the attendant: "I'm here to see my daughter, Jessica Bonetti."
"Bonetti," the young woman repeated, looking at a computer screen. "Oh, yeah. I'll let the doctor know you're here."
"Can you tell me anything about her condition?" Marika asked, knowing the answer but asking anyway. The attendant could have been one of her students.
"I'm sorry, I can't. Please sit down and wait for the doctor. He'll be right with you."