Emmy Taylor officially became Emmy Taylor Miles three weeks later. DNA did confirm what Mr. Jackson suspected. Faith Taylor was the woman killed on December 23rd, just before midnight while sitting at a bus stop waiting to ride home to her little girl.
With her mother’s fate determined and her relationship to Stephanie discovered the Miles family would have been Emmy’s next of kin. As that the paperwork pursuing her adoption flew through the courts.
After her release from the hospital Emmy spent three more weeks at home recovering. After a month she and Stephanie returned to school. Emmy, so used to trauma, had no problem eating in the lunchroom even sitting at the same table. Steph however picked her class up outside. She broke into a cold sweat even looking into the room.
When school let out for the summer Emmy was still making three weekly trips for dialysis. Stephanie and Brett had mentioned the transplant a couple of times, but Emmy had not changed her mind. While it hurt both parents so much to see her go through everything they knew ultimately it was her decision. To force it on her would break all the bonds that they’d fought so hard to make.
Over the summer Emmy rarely stopped smiling. Several families from the school organized a trip for the family. Contacts were made and favors called in and on July 5th the family flew to Orlando for a one-week stay at Disneyland followed by a week at a private condo at the beach. Emmy experienced her first plane ride, first roller coaster, first time at the beach all in those two weeks.
Emmy’s dialysis sessions were carried out right there at the park thanks to some of the make a wish doctors and staff. Then at the beach a local hospital was set up to take care of the rest. By the time they returned they were all tanned relaxed and it seemed like the events of the past year were far behind them.
But on the Monday following their return reality set in. Emmy still had to go for dialysis and Rita’s trial was all over the news. Both Emmy and Stephanie would have to testify if it actually went to trial. Thankfully Rita plead guilty. The two only had to go down for the sentencing. The week before school started back Rita was sentenced to confinement in a juvenile detection center until her 18th birthday.
Stephanie couldn’t help but wonder what happened then. Would she still come after them? Would Emmy even still be here? Five years would get them to the beginning of the average life expectancy of someone living on dialysis. Then there was the threat of the cancer coming back. Or Emmy being diagnosed with a secondary cancer from the chemotherapy that she had endured.
Just when the tears threatened to fall Stephanie remembered Emmy’s words. “That’s OK it will be the best 5-10 years of my life.” And that was it. It wasn’t her job to worry about how long they’d have Emmy for, or who out there was coming after her next. It was her job to make sure that this child really did live that ordinary life, however long that might be.
On August 17, one week after school started the Lincoln Middle School girls’ basketball team held tryouts. As the tryouts began one player was missing. Emmy had another appointment for blood work and dialysis that Brett had taken her to after school and like so many times last year she was late. Stephanie found herself watching the clock as the tryouts began and they weren’t back.
Outside the gym Brett pulled up and Emmy took a deep breath before opening the door. “You coming today?”
He smiled “Nope.”
“Love you too sweetie.”
She closed the car door and walked toward the gym. The gym door was propped open with a chair and Emmy walked to it clutching a piece of paper in her hand. As she got close she could hear the sound of basketballs bouncing and she couldn’t help but smile. No matter what else was happening around her that sound always made her smile. Brett sat in the car and watched her enter before getting out and following.
Inside Stephanie saw at the door open and waved Emmy over. “Did it go Ok?”
Emmy didn’t respond but handed her the paper. Stephanie took it and read it. And then read it again. “Emmy? Is this?”
No longer able to hide it the biggest smile ever broke out across her face and from across the gym Brett screamed. “No more dialysis. She’s cleared to play” Stephanie jumped up and grabbed Emmy hugging her so tight.
The rest of the girls, at least those that had played last year were in tears as well. Maisy was the first to ask, “So you mean that Emmy can play as hard as she wants.”
Emmy fielded this question “Always.” And she stole the ball from Maisy and headed down the court for a layup.
The Bruins went a perfect 35-0 that season. Winning every tournament they were in, including state. Emmy was named the MVP of every one. During the Awards dinner at the end of the season Stephanie got to announce that she’d been asked to take over for Coach Pennington as the head coach of the girls basketball team at Riverview high school. She and Emmy were just getting started.