Between Two Eternities
The portrait of a family should include all of its members. Each one distinctly painted, colors vividly depicted and smiles beaming at their unknown audience as each face has its own expression that they want to leave when they are gone. But, portraits as is life never last forever, as the paint fades, the colors blend and the faces that were once young have aged and the final scene that many see after so many years differs from the original But, what happens when one member in this portrait is caught or blindsided by fate, has no idea that the next painting will not have their image or face and the world as they knew it and would see for just a short time is about to come to an end? Between Two Eternities will leave readers with many ethical questions, debates that some have had over the issues brought to light in this novel and unanswered questions that many would have liked to ask the characters themselves.
Robert and Marcie Silver lived what they thought was an idyllic life. Not rich but comfortable Robert a college professor and Marcie an artist in her own right. Hoping to create illustrations for Bambi every child’s favorite storybook little does Marcie know that her life span as some might say has not been cut short but is complete. Although only 32 and the mother of two children we do not decide how much time we have on earth but it is up to each one of us to use it wisely, embrace the good times and manage to hard ones. Some feel that death is more than just losing a spouse and a mother. Understanding that “no life can be cut short before it is complete, that death, evil and tragedy are all a part of living,” can be difficult to comprehend. When Marcie starts to feel tired, looks pale and finds it hard to function she ignores the symptoms and feels that it might be a virus that will eventually go away. As we meet her and Robert attending a function of one of his faculty members, we learn to what lengths she will go in order to help Robert attain tenure, deal with some difficult people and even handle one that would like more than just his attention. Dictionary.com defines eternity as: “infinite time; duration without beginning or end. Eternal existence, especially as contrasted with mortal life: the eternity of God.
Theology: the timeless state into which the soul passes at a person’s death.” But, Marcie and Robert faced more than just understanding the meaning of eternity or everlasting. Robert faced and made a decision that brings to light what the role of a doctor is when having to tell a patient they are terminal. As we get to know Dr. Halpern he seems callous, cold and not accessible nor is his partner. Almost like trying to avoid the inevitable and when he does the conversation between him and Robert just might leave the reader cold. An inoperable brain tumor with no chance of survival told to him by her internist. Claiming that his best neuro men looked at the results and gave him the final diagnosis still should have sent Robert elsewhere looking for answers but it did not as Dr. Halpern convinced him that all roads would lead back to him. But, what happens next is totally questionable as Robert demands and pleads that Marcie not be told. This is where ethics comes into play and where her final wishes if she had a Living Will or DNR should have been respected.
Told she had a virus and not really concerned Robert began noticing little changes within her and rather than face them what he does will surprise the reader as their closeness was one thing that most thought would never falter and the temptations placed in front of him should have been ignored. But, being what some say is only human what happens creates more than just a wide rift between him and Marcie. His children are so precious and her mother so supportive yet no one seems to realize what is happening to Marcie and Robert is hiding from the truth, as you will learn from his actions.
Marcie is astute, resourceful and definitely one to be trifled with as a major outburst that she cannot explain or control sends her to finding out what is wrong with her and as the doctor states: all roads led back to him. So, what happens when the lies, truths and falsehoods come out and how do they deal with the final outcome? Robert and Marcie are special and when she learns the truth they decide to live life to the fullest, take chances and enjoy the time they had. With the help of her courageous mother, her two children and one special weekend Marcie will get to not only live out a special dream but hopefully enjoy her time on earth.
With references to the Torah and definitions that will help the reader understand more we learn that there are two kinds of immortality: “ there’s the finite kind right here on earth, where we live on in the hearts and memories of those who loved us; there’s the infinite kind, where our souls return to God, who created them.” The reader learns more about the traditions the author shares and the feelings of both characters, Robert and Marcie come through loud and clear as each one voices his/her thoughts about the final outcome. As Marcie comes full circle with her feelings, her final wishes expressed quite clearly will Robert respect what she says. When trying to give her a special weekend the thoughts that are shared will bring tears to your eyes and hope that some kind of miracle will occur. But, truths are told, facts are real and the end result you will have to decide for yourself whether you agree with the final outcome. Do you respect the wishes of someone even when they are given verbally and not written down? What are the rights of the patient? What are the rights of the family? What role do the doctors and nurses have? Why did all of the medical personnel seem so cold and unfeeling? What happens when people need compassion? What happens when one man is torn between two eternities? This is one book that everyone should read to understand that time is short and we need to live and love life to the fullest because you just never know. Author Barbara Brett presents many issues that so many will debate after reading this heartbreaking and enlightening novel. Some portraits will change and others we know will last for eternity if just in our hearts and minds.
Fran Lewis: reviewer