Grandma Jane faintly heard these words coming from her first grandchild and as she laid there, hands dirty, apron covered with charcoal residue, body without much life, she whispered, “It’s not my time.” But, Sapphire did not hear her.
There is a hush in the clouds. Their small family is on high alert. The ambulance arrives, Grandma Jane is lifted into a busy vehicle with hard-to-tame lights and tires with low tread. Sapphire stands there, in the middle of the backyard, piecing together what just happened, but unable to move.
“Sapph!!! Get a move on! We’ve gotta go! They’re taking your GJ to Central County Memorial Hospital. We need to get there, baby. Grab your things!”
Her Mom shouted this from a distance, however, Sapphire moved quickly, gathering her things in one, fell swoop. The air of the day is creepy. There is no room for error or reconsideration. Upon their arrival, names are taken, numbers given, labels in sibling-hood and their ranks are offered. Sapphire is quiet, taking in the sights and sounds of the run-down building.
“Mom, why did they bring her here?”
Her Mom begins busying herself with the ringlets of curls layered atop her head. She hears Sapphire, but she isn’t listening.
“Why did they bring GJ here? She hates this place. It isn’t even the best hospital in Topeka. GJ will have a fit when she wakes up and realizes where she is. I cannot believe you guys let them come to Central County.”
“Sapph! What has gotten into you? They brought her in for treatment, it’s closest to you GJ’s house. Northpoint is nearly twenty-five minutes away.”
Sapphire sat there in disbelief, knowing full well that Grandma Jane will not be happy when her eyes open. She imagined her cursing out the nurses, not minding the doctors, and begging to be relocated. The hum of the machines sounded like broken clocks. The nurses popped gum, walked with attitudes and had no idea what “service” is. Sapphire twiddled her thumbs, counting the minutes until she could see Grandma Jane. A nurse sashayed over, annoyed with their presence.
“The family of Jane Holloway? Please, come this way.”
One by one, they filed into Grandma Jane’s room, Sapphire racing toward the front of the pack. She stood there, calmly placed her hand on Grandma Jane’s and whispered, “You’re at Central County, GJ. I just wanted you to be aware. Don’t be angry when you open your eyes.”
“Sapph! Step back! Give your GJ room. Give her space!”
Her Mom’s words came rushing in like a flood. She quickly stepped back, but smiled when she noticed Grandma Jane’s eyes opening.
The beginning of her name came out slowly, calmly and with nothing else following it.
Grandma Jane had now opened her eyes and signaled Sapphire with her hand.
“Come on over, baby.”
“Yes’m. Hey, GJ. You scared me. Don’t do that again.”
“Hey, baby. I scared myself. So, I’m Central County, huh?”
“Yes’m. I knew you’d be upset. I didn’t want you here.”
Grandma Jane fidgeted in the tight hospital bed, reassuring the nurse on duty that she could do things on her own. She leaned into her granddaughter’s concerned face, breathed an effortless breath, and said, “I’m not the least bit upset. Not with you standing here.”
Just as they filed into the room, they all filed out. Grandma Jane and Sapphire required time. And although they didn't openly request it, it was felt. The two of them picked right up where they left off. The subpar appearance of the room couldn’t stifle their love, the beauty surrounding them shone iridescently.
“Did your uncle get that chicken offa the grill?”
“GJ, how can you think about chicken at a time like this?”
Grandma Jane giggled. Sapphire smiled. Things were going to be okay. They both knew this.