Updated: Aug 1, 2021
“ “Does the man behind the curtain need anything?” she asked in her thick, Brooklyn accent. I sniffed. “How about a hug?” she asked. It was such a good and bad moment I couldn’t refuse. "
Flowers were delivered from my friend David, who wrote something very kind on the cards. He is one of my funniest friends but also solid as a rock and when he says something he means it, so sending me a dramatic huge delivery is part of his charm. I had just received some bad news before this sweet gesture of kindness and, overwhelmed by it all, sat on the edge of my hospital bed and cried. From behind the curtains came her voice. She sounded mid-forties, old school Brooklyn, and she was visiting her uncle, my elderly roommate, who was more like her Dad, her “Pops.” She fussed for Pops behind his curtain, and I saw her short, strong form move along the outside of mine. She heard me. “Does the man behind the curtain need anything?” she asked in her thick, Brooklyn accent. I sniffed. “How about a hug?” she asked. It was such a good and bad moment I couldn’t refuse. “Sure,” I said. She pulled open my curtain, reached down and embraced me. “Let it out, baby,” she said, and I began to sob onto her shoulder. “Thank you,” I whispered between gulps of air. “We all have a story,” she whispered back. “My life? You wouldn’t believe it,” she said. “Mine, too,” I returned. She let go. “I’m Rose. My daughter has been missing since last May,” she offered. I looked into her eyes and saw the deep, frightened pain. “I’m sorry, Rose, that sounds scary.” “Unbearable beyond belief,” she said, turning away. “And my wife left me for a stripper that was a friend of mine,” she offered, adding that New York chuckle at the end that means “Can you fucking believe it?” “My husband left me 17 weeks after our beautiful wedding to be with a lot of men,” I said, “and now there’s something wrong with my heart.” “I’m so sorry, honey” she said, and put her hand on my knee. “How do you get through it?” I asked her. “I study transcendental meditation,” she said, pronouncing it like a Scorsese character. “Otherwise I would be dead or I woulda killed somebody else,” she laughed, picking up my prayer bead bag. “What are these?” she asked. “I chant a lot,” I offered. She put her arm around my shoulder and hugged me closer. “We gotta do something, don’t we?” she asked. “Yeah, we do,” I said to Rose. “Yeah, we do,” she whispered, and let go.