My very special friend, M is about 20 years older than me. She was one of the first people I met upon my arrival in Canada in 1990. She was a great teacher for me. We became so close that she has been like my mentor or my big sister.
M had a serious operation recently and I went to see her at the hospital the day after. A couple of people were already visiting her, filling the room with warm laughter.
When those people left, quickly the room turned still. Lying back on the bed, M closed her eyes.
“Tired?” I asked.
“A little” she said.
I was sitting beside her watching her face.
M opened her eyes.
“It’s the same as many years ago, remember?” she said.
“I was lying down on bed in the hospital and you were sitting beside me just like that.”
I nodded. “Of course, I remember. Long time ago…. maybe 20 years?”
“You were crying, remember?”
I nodded again.
20 years ago, M had a lung failure. She crossed over to the other side, and then was resuscitated. She says that she was dreaming the whole time this was happening. She remembers that in her dream I appeared to her and told her to come back.
So, when she came back to life, she was very worried that something terrible might have happened to me. She phoned me from the hospital bed. I had had no idea that she was so sick….. ran to the hospital, and sat beside her. At the time I was going through a difficult time myself, and when she asked me how I was doing, I couldn’t help my tears flowing down my cheeks.
20 years forward, I am once again sitting beside a bed in a hospital room watching M. 28 years went flashing in my mind. How much love she has given me, how much has she encouraged me, and how precious is M to me. Feeling overwhelmed by gratitude, I left the room praying.
At noon, I opened the door of a restaurant in Kitsilano. I was getting together for lunch with Y whom I have not seen for a long time, perhaps 20 years….
When I was working for an ESL school called Harbourside College, Y was one of the first students who came to this school from Japan. When she first arrived, she was a little over 20 years old, a nervous looking, unsophisticated girl with no English what-so-ever. How she changed over time was like a miracle. She opened up little by little as she gained her confidence, like a beautiful flower opening its petals from a tightly closed green bud. She became fluent in English in just a few years. Now she has come back to Vancouver, living with her Canadian husband, working in her dream job, and…. she says she has turned 45!!
We had a nice catching up, and when the time came to say good-bye, she said she would pay the bill.
“Oh no, how about going Dutch?”, I said, but she insisted.
She said, “Remember this? Remember that? There are so many things you have done for me and I’m so grateful. I work and earn money. Let me pay for this lunch.”
Oh my God, I felt really overwhelmed. She has grown. And, I realized for the first time that I had been playing a role of a mentor for this young lady.
It’s interesting. Receiving and giving…. I had been given such big love from M and passing the love on to Y. And, I had no idea about that…..
What a heartwarming day it was.