A Remarkable Woman!
I was in my fourth month of pregnancy, when I took the yellow cab to the emergency room early this morning. I had false labor pains, but when all the poking and prodding, needles and X-ray's were taken, I was relieved to know that I would be fine. Instead of calling a cab right away, I decided to walk down to the cafeteria, for something to eat.
Like most stranger's, I felt confused and lost, and a bit embarrassed, as I wandered down long hallways, reading the signs and asking for directions from anyone in medical scrubs, or looking like a doctor. But the more folks tried to help, as I laughed and took a deep breath, the more I felt it was a conspiracy to make me lose some weight.
No one was any help to me. I felt my smile grow as I pondered the possibility that, as a practical joke, someone must have taken down the signs pointing the way to the cafeteria. Finally, I had to take a chair, and rest. As I sat there, looking left to right, I watched workers and visitor's hurriedly walk past. So many in a rush I thought, going where?
I was glad my life seemed quiet and mundane compared to what I had seen since coming to this place. I was just a college student, at Delta College, in Stockton, California, studying to be a computer programmer one day. No one could say I didn't get my share of exercise each day, carrying books. Rushing from class to class, but those damn chairs!
They gave me a backache, or was it just the baby I was carrying inside? But this story is not about me, it’s about a woman I met in the cafeteria. A sweet woman who could have been anyone's grandmother. I had finally met an intern, a tall, dark and handsome man, perhaps 27. I was too shy to look at him, as he stopped, looked down into my eyes with his baby blues and smiled.
He told me I looked lost, and as I blushed, I admitted I was, and he offered to show me the way to the cafeteria, and I became lost in those deep blue eyes. I told him I felt embarrassed, but he just laughed in a soft, reassuring way, and told me everyone gets lost now and then. When we approached the cafeteria, the scent of food told me my time with this enticing, sexy and perfectly desired guy was about to end, damn!
He held the swinging door politely open for me and I thanked him. I wanted to ask for his phone number. I wanted to give him mine, but I just couldn't find the courage and he was gone. Inside the cafeteria were people of all ages, shapes and sizes, enjoying meals and conversation. Yet here and there, was a man, or a woman, sitting all alone, as if they were all alone in the world!
That was when I saw Emily, though I didn't know her name at that moment. She was a kindly looking elderly woman in her 80's, the kind of woman I easily pictured surrounded by grand children. She sat in a booth in the back corner of the cafeteria, away from everyone else, with just a cup of coffee, held in both hands. She looked as if she were contemplating something, or dreaming of special moments in her life.
I stood in line with tray in hand, and paid a ransom for a hot chocolate, a large cinnamon roll, an apple, and decided to ask to sit with her, if she didn't mind. I felt maybe, I could brighten her day, and enjoy her company as well. When I stopped at her booth and looked down at her, she looked surprised and I saw her green eyes as she smiled up at me.
"My gracious dear, please, get off those feet. You look as tired as I feel.” and I heard the softest laughter. I sat down and breathed deeply, admitting I was worn out! I lost track of time, as I listened to Emily go on and on about her life, her daughter, and her five grand children and two great grand children. But she was far from boring. Her life was full of hugs and smiles, and compassion for others, and they for her.
The more I listened, the more she touched my heart, for I had no one, no husband, no children, at least, not yet. I lived in a quiet little studio apartment two blocks from campus. I was foolish to believe back then, that the guy I fell for was in love with me. When I told him I was pregnant, everything at first seemed ok with him. But one day, when I returned home, all his belongings were gone, with just a note on the table with the word, "Goodbye."
I asked Emily why she was at the hospital. She told me she had some heart problems, and had been brought here by taxi too. She said she felt better now. She looked deep in thought at that moment, as if trying to remember something and then told me she was waiting for the pharmacy to fill a prescription for her. My cup of chocolate had long been empty as I smiled with delight at all the wonderful moments in this woman's life.
I was surprised she could recall them so vividly! It was if I was there with her, reliving each and every memory. I secretly wanted to tell her I wished with all my heart that she had been my grandmother, but I kept silent. Then I heard footsteps approaching and I turned my head and saw the most beautiful smile given to me from a man in my entire life. He was no hunk, no fox, no stud, just an ordinary guy, close to my age.
He gave me that deer in the head lights look and I answered, “I'm sharing this booth with Emily." I said. As I turned and pointed to where she sat; I saw, there was no one there. My face went blank! I grasped for words as tears formed in my eyes, as he looked confused. "I swear she was here, I swear. I’ve been talking to her for nearly an hour!" He touched my hand and then sat down across from me and listened.
Between tears, I told him of how I met Emily, and all that she had shared with me. I was so upset with myself. I never realized what he might have thought of me babbling on and on. But he didn't leave, he didn't think I was nuts! I could see it in his eyes that he cared, and he took my hand into his. My tears fell from my eyes one by one, as he tried to calm and comfort me.
Then I raised my head and looked toward the cafeteria door when I heard Emily's voice whisper, "It was so nice meeting you!" I watched her, as she wiped a tear away from her eye, turned and walked right through the closed door, as she vanished. Emily had been a ghost! She must have died in this hospital, and her spirit lingered here, for reasons I didn't know. I heard Jason's voice as he asked me, "What is it, what's wrong?" I just turned and looked up at him, wiped my eyes and replied, "Nothing, everything's just fine!"
©2005 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)
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