She’s on her way out, the docs just told us,” she said, tears filling her eyes.
I reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder, sharing the look, sharing the fear.
“I-, I don’t know how long she’s going to be with us, but I know she would appreciate a visit from you,” she said with a sniff and knowing smile, “you are Julie’s favorite.”
I nodded and gave her what I hoped was a strong smile.
“You both have been my favorite patients to care for,” I said with a pause, “Well not you, you’re her sister.”
She chuckled, a rich and warm sound, as we stood in the bustling hallway.
Behind us elevators dinged open on different floors, hospital staff talking to one another, and family members passing by. Behind us, framed in a wide bank of windows, the sun was setting over the city, catching the summer pollution and igniting the sky. Milliseconds passed by, but they might have well been years.
“I’ll go visit, don’t worry,” I whispered as we pulled each other in a tight embrace.
“She’ll want to hear you,” she breathed in my ear.
We parted, knowing that we would never see one another again. Tears fell from her face onto the ground. And all I could do was nod my head, so I did.
I walked away.
Hitting the entrance button to the Intensive Care Unit I walked quietly down the hall, glancing briefly into each room I passed. Seeing a familiar name on the outside of a room I paused to take a breath.
Inside machinery whirred and lights blinked on and off. Julie lay on the hospital bed, a small form almost engulfed in blankets and pillows. Her eyes were closed. Dark lashes laid on iridescent skin. Purple shadows law below each closed lid and there was a hollowness to her face.
A breathing tube traveled from the bulky ventilator machine down into her mouth, giving a mechanical movement to Julie’s chest. She was beautiful, broken, yet beautiful.
I stepped close to her bedside, taking hold of a hand that was warm to the touch. They law across her stomach, as if she were expecting a visitor any minute, as if she were waiting for me.
“Julie,” I said, placing my head close to her ear, “I’m here.”
There was no motion in her body, except for the rhythmic fall of her chest. I looked at her face. Only days before had there been a wide smile on her lips and a joke waiting to spring up. She had been full of zeal.
“Spit and vinegar,” is what she would have said. But now she was here, waiting.
“I just came by to tell you hi,” I paused, trying to control the rising emotions, “and I wanted to tell you something. You should know I’m a big baby when it comes to these things, saying good bye.”
I sniffed, feeling tears trickle down my face, “I always cry, no matter what.”
My tears fell down onto her blanket, wetting the fabric.
“I just want you to know that you are incredible. You’ve left an impression on me and I can’t thank you enough.”
I ran a hand across my nose and then looked for a tissue. Finding one I grabbed it and pulled my emotions under control.
“Julie, thank you for letting me care for you,” I said, giving her forehead a gentle kiss, “good bye, my friend.”