But wait! When does God ever just give you one chance to completely embarrass yourself in the name of faith?
And so, about five minutes later, the woman with the pink hair (I wonder if she's any relation to the Man with the Yellow Hat?) walked back in, got some coffee, and sat down as far across the room as possible from me. Excellent. Not only do I have to talk to a complete stranger about something that she might not want to talk about, but I'd have to take a walk to do it. I enacted my plan carefully: walking over to the snack corner (which was inconveniently the closest destination to the woman with the pink hair other than the seat next to her) I poured myself a cup of water and stood about ten feet away "watching the fish tank" (in reality, there was a rather interesting Blue Tang doing what seemed to be a synchronized swimming routine with itself, so I really was interested).
Suddenly, I jumped as the automatic doors behind me sprung open and a male nurse came out shouting "Kimmy? Kimmy?" and looking around. The woman with the pink hair tried to get his attention, but he was too busy looking for Kimmy, who was taking her sweet time sauntering across the waiting room. Now was my chance! "Sir? She's trying to get your attention" I pointed to the woman with the pink hair. "Oh, how can I help you?" he replied as she sprung up and ran towards him, mouthing "Thank you so much!!!!" as she passed me. As the nurse, the woman with the pink hair, and Kimmy (finally making it to her destination) disappeared behind the wooden doors, I sat down in the seat across from the one the woman with the pink hair had just vacated, ideally positioning myself just in case she came back.
Oh yes, it was ingenious.
My chance came about two minutes later as she returned, wiping tears from her eyes, and sat down across from me. Well this is more awkward than I expected I thought to myself. Taking a deep breath and trying to seem as pleasant as possible, I ventured, "Do you need someone to talk to?" She looked up from her tissue, sniffing a little bit. Here it was. The make or break moment. Either she could spill the beans and confide in a total stranger or turn down my offer for companionship and therefore make the rest of our time in the waiting room incredibly awkward. The proverbial ball was in her court. Taking a shaky breath, she explained everything like we were old friends sitting in her kitchen. I moved across the aisle to the seat next to her as she continued her story, looking relieved to have someone to talk to.
When she finished a few minutes later, she wiped some more tears off her face. "I saw you waiting over there with your friend, is she okay?" We talked for about a half an hour about anything and everything, from the masters degree she was pursuing (a combination of forensics and being a coroner, from what I understood) to what I'd do with my degree (teaching/writing/pastoring/whatevering) to her husband's musical talent (a fellow cellist!) to the tattoo on her wrist (her grandfather's dog tag number, which apparently her grandmother thought was "neat"). Just as my friend was coming out of the emergency room, she was called back. Standing up, she put out her hand, "I'm Sarah, by the way."
Isn't it amazing how many times you share your life story with someone else only to learn their name at the end of the conversation?
As my friend and I left the hospital and headed back for school, I glanced over my shoulder to catch one last glimpse of Sarah. Alas, all I could see was a head of bright pink hair walking down the hall toward the nurses.
"Who was that?" my friend asked.
"Oh, just a new friend" I responded.
See, that wasn't so bad was it? said The Voice. You should have asked her how much that tattoo hurt, though....