It was well after mid night, wrapped in my warm fleecy robe I stood silently staring out the ninth floor window of the daunting New York hospital. I was staring at the 59th Street Bridge. It was as sparkling and beautiful as a Christmas tree. New York city has always been special to me; the Broadway theatre, the music, the restaurants from the deli’s to the Tavern-On-the-Green. “This is what the city is supposed to be about, ” I thought, dreading the morning to come and all the uncertainty it held. But the morning did come and at nine a.m. on that March 17th, I was wheeled into an operating room. Eleven hours and forty-five minutes later I was wheeled into a recovery room and a very few hours after being returned to my own hospital room I found myself actually on my feet, half walking, half propelled by medical equipment and members of my family. The orders were to walk the length and back of the long hospital corridor.
It was then that I first saw him. I saw him through a haze of, drugs, pain and the dreamy unreality that this could be happening to me. He was standing in the doorway of a hospital room. In my twilight, unfocused state I saw him almost as a spirit shape rather than a full blown person. Yet the body language of this shape was somehow sending out sympathy and encouragement to me.
This became my daily routine for the next three weeks. As I gained a little more strength the man would be standing in the doorway, smiling and nodding as I would pass with one or more members of my family. On the fourth week I was allowed to solo up the corridor. As I passed his room, there was my faithful friend in the doorway. He was a slender dark complexioned man. I stopped a minute to chat. He introduced me to his wife and his son who was lying listlessly in a hospital bed. The next day as I made my scheduled walk, he came out and walked with me to my room. He explained that he and his wife had brought their teenage son to this hospital of hope from Iran. They were still hoping but things were not going well. He told me of how I had encouraged him on that first dreadful night’s walking tour and how he was rooting for me. For three more weeks we continued our conversations, each giving the other the gift of caring and friendship. He told me of how he enjoyed seeing my family as they rallied around me and I was saddened by the loneliness of that small family so far from home.
Miraculously, there did come a day when the doctor told me I would be discharged the following morning. That night I told my friend. The next morning he came to my room. I had been up and dressed since dawn. My bright yellow dress gave me hope, and I almost looked human. We talked a bit. I told him I would pray for his son. He thanked me but shrugged his shoulders indicating the hopelessness. We knew we would never see each other again, in this world. This man in his sorrow was so happy for me. I felt his love. He took my hand and said, “You are my sister.” I answered back and said, “You are my brother”. He turned and left the room.
My family came to retrieve me. Doctors and nurses, to say their goodbyes and give orders. All business had been taken care of. After seven and a half weeks I was leaving the hospital room I had walked into with so much trepidation.
As I turned to walk down the corridor to the elevator, my brother stood in the doorway, smiling, nodding and giving his blessing.
It was 14 years ago today on March 17th 1990 that I entered that operating room and much has happened to the world since my brother and I said our last farewell. Yet I think of him often and he is always in my heart as I feel I am in his. I remember his intense, dark brown eyes as we pledged ourselves as brother and sister. At that moment, I knew without a doubt that the Spirit of God hovered over us smiling, nodding and blessing us with the knowledge that we are all one.
Many times I have pondered over the years why we humans meet our dearest friends or bond so deeply with another person when we are most vulnerable. I think it is because when we face a life threatening illness, job loss, whatever the catastrophe may be; we are left completely without any pretension and our hearts and souls are open to those around us and we are able to accept the love and kindnesses of others, almost freely and thankfully as children accept love. This kind of love is blind to race, color and creed and leads to a pair of dark brown eyes seeking a pair of very blue eyes and pledging a love that will last through time.