From the time they got married, Emily and George had just nine years to enjoy together until Emily died while giving birth.
The story takes a supernatural turn, when Emily is welcomed to eternal rest by others in the afterlife. She fights the notion of rest that they suggest, and against the advice of the others, she chooses to relive her 12th birthday. Armed now with the knowledge of the tragedy that lies ahead, this relived birthday proves to offer her no joy—just an immensely heavy feeling of sadness.
Later, when George arrives at Emily's grave, he is stricken with grief, and the pity that Emily feels for him is palpable. This pity stems from her newfound knowledge of how limited his appreciation of the miracle of life really is.