"I told him it was all wrong. None of what he was saying was making it any easier to take the money. "We don't want their money," I reiterated.

"What do you want?" he asked.

I told him that I wanted them to remember Josie, to learn something from her and to never let this happen again. "I want every hospital in the country to know her name and why she died. I want them all to learn something," I said angrily.

"Then do that," he said. "Do that with the settlement money. If you leave this money, it will just get sucked up in a black hole." He paused and picked up the settlement papers. "Take the money and do something good. Do something for Josie. You can make this money more than a sad story for the media to cover. You can create something much more."

I thought about it. As much as I wanted a fight in court, maybe he was right. It could take years and it could be painful. It would just be a sensationalized courtroom battle story, and for what? I looked at Tony.

"I think he's right," he said. "I think we should take the money and do something good with it."

And so we took the money. We signed the papers, and a few days later Paul handed us a check.

I walked into our local bank on Roland Avenue, a place that I had often visited, usually with Josie on my hip and a cup of Stone Mill coffee in my hand. I held the check in my hand as I stood in line.

"Welcome to Wachovia. How are you today, Mrs. King?" Christy the teller asked as I approached her window.

I endorsed the check and slid it over. I watched her look at the check, waiting for her to notice that this was not my normal Friday transaction. I wanted to tell her where the money had come from and how hard it was form me to be doing what I was doing. I wanted this moment to mean something. I watched her, waiting for her to says something, but she looked up at me and asked the same old question.

"Would you like any cash back, Mrs. King?"

Josie's Story © 2009 by Sorrel King, reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Atlantic Monthly Press, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.


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