In an alcove of the hospital by a big sunny window, I sat so that my back could have wall support not offered by the bench. Nate was sleeping in his room, lights out, door shut. A light snow was falling. Sarah and I were laughing – sharing funny teacher stories and the delights of children. Medical staff walked by and chatted with us here and there, but one young man dressed in scrubs stopped. He grinned and cocked his head, puzzled. Obviously, grading papers on the floor of the hospital wasn’t an every day occurrence.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee?” he asked.
My heart swelled with the sweet gratitude that answers kindness. “I would love a cup of coffee, but I can get it myself if you just tell me where to find it,” I said.
“I will get it for you. What would you like in it?”
“Just black, but decaf,” I said.
“Got it. And you?” he asked Sarah.
“Black regular. Thank you so much!”
“No problem,” he said. “It isn’t very good though.”
We laughed. “I don’t need Starbucks,” I said. “I am not much of a coffee connoisseur.”
“I am,” he said. “This coffee is terrible.”
We laughed again. He stepped into a little room with a “staff only” sign and quickly emerged with our coffee. “You will have to tell me on a scale of 1-10 how gross it is. Are you a coffee person?” he asks Sarah.
She nodded. “Oh yes.”
“You won’t like it then,” he promised. “I will be back to ask you . . . on a scale of 1-10, how gross is it?” He went off to his next patient, but a few minutes later he was back. “Well, 1-10. How gross?”
“3,” Sarah the coffee connoisseur said.
“I think it is great,” I laughed in response.
He nodded in agreement with Sarah, and off he went again.
A few minutes later he was back. This time he sat on the floor next to me. “You know, these hospital floors are hospital floors,” he said.
“I guess it is OK as long as babies aren’t crawling around on it.” His large brown eyes were tender. “Why are you here?” he asked.
I told him my story. “My husband, her daddy – has cancer and is having complications to radiation or inquired a nasty infection or something.”
“Ah,” he said. And he listened. Then he told me his story. His dad had cancer, as did his brother. We talked about life and living in the day you are given and being thankful and finding joy. “I am learning to be transparent through all of this,” he said. And I realized just how transparent he was, and how I loved him for it. Off he went to another patient.
“Sarah,” I said. “Is there something wrong with me that I fall in love with people so quickly? I love this young man. I wanted to ask him to come hang out at my house, invite him to Thanksgiving, and tell him I had two unmarried daughters and would love for him to fill out an application to be a son-in-law.”
“Oh Mom!” she said. I expected a slight rebuke about the son-in-law part, but she said, “We are so alike. My thoughts went down the exact same road.”
We laughed – great hearty laughs right there in the alcove of the hospital. Then we muffled our mouths remembering the sleeping, the recovering.
He was back. “I am just drawn to you two,” he said. “There is something about you. There is a spirit about you.”
I knew the Spirit he was sensing was Jesus. We talked about God for a few minutes. He pondered. “Tell your grandchildren to go into medicine,” he said. “We need people like you in medicine.” We said our good-byes, recognizing that as strangers we had shared love.
It wasn’t until later when a friend asked if he was good looking that I pondered. “You know. I don’t often recognize that at first. I am not sure. I almost always respond to the spirit of a person more than their outward appearance. I suppose he was nice looking.” I thought about it. “He had curly hair and brown eyes. I wondered if he was Jewish. I don’t know why. Maybe that was a stereotype.”
And then I remembered. His name was Joshua. Joshua which means “Jehovah is generous. Jehovah saves.” And I wondered, did we have coffee with Jesus on the floor of the hospital? I believe we did. Jesus in disguise.