Anna Goldberg sat and placed the candle before her on a long, wooden table. The candle's light served more to deepen the darkness around her than brighten the room in which she sat.
Her breath misted the air and her voice, rusted from lack of use, barely sounded.
"I understand, Ruth, why you felt you needed to go." Anna paused, clearing her throat. "You may not believe me, but I do understand. For I was like you with my own mother."
Anna looked deeper into the light of the candle, her eyes becoming unfocused as she looked back through time.
"We are healers, Ruth, you know that now. You've always known it." She shook her head sadly.
"I know how hard it is to accept what cannot be seen, touched, proven. But now, in the years to come, you will learn." Anna placed her hands flat on the table before her. "As I learned with you."
She stopped speaking and silence again filled the house. The candlelight shone on her silver hair and glinted in her deep, dark eyes.
Outside the circle of light shadows moved, almost forming the shapes of all the women of the Goldberg line.
Half a world away Dr. Ruth Goldberg lay sweating, her face twisted in a grimace as another contraction swept through her.
Nurse Janna squeezed her hand in support.
"Dr. Goldberg, I've seen the miracles you perform in the surgery. But this, this is the true miracle of life."
Ruth shook her head fiercely. "No," she said. "That's just training and good luck. And this--" she paused for breath, "--this is just biology."
Her doctor looked up at her. "You're doing great, Ruth," she said. "Almost there, the baby's crowned."
She smiled. "One more good push and you'll be there."
Ruth grunted as another contraction came.
"Now," said her doctor. And Ruth pushed. The baby slid from her body into the doctor's waiting hands.
"Congratulations, Ruth. It's a baby girl!"
Anna smiled as she lit a second candle.
"Of course it is."