Kelly paused at the double doors, either unwilling or unable to find what awaited her on the other side. As a 12 year-old girl, she held the hand of her great-grandmother as death overtook her. Through medical school at Baylor, an internship at Duke, and a fellowship at Knightsbridge Hospital in London, she had come to realize that regardless of how much medicine, research, care and money is thrown at preserving life, eventually every one reaches the same inevitable, and sometimes painful, fate.
Through experience and involvement, Kelly grew to understand death and, in the worst cases, to appreciate it. Though the academics of the process came easily to Kelly, death never numbed her. She was still moved by the loss of a sister, a mother, a father, a wife, and worst of all, a child. She would always try to balance strength and compassion in the presence of a patient's grieving family, only to be overtaken by emotion once in the privacy of the doctors' lounge, or an on-call sleep room, or an unlocked broom closet.
The other side of the door certainly presented an end. Kelly took a deep breath, rehearsed the moment to come once more, and pushed one door open.