Story: TALES OF THE F.B.I. (FAITH BASED INVESTIGATIONS)
September 17, 2021
CHAPTER SEVEN–CAN’T HIDE LOVE
Written by: J. Anthony Spencer
She hangs up the phone, leaning back in her chair. Unconsciously, she takes a deep breath and wipes her eyes. She thinks “It’s in God’s hands now.” She glances at the picture over the mantle and smiles slightly. “He has to grow up now.” She clears her throat, stands, and prepares for work. Minutes later she has on her nurse scrubs and leaves a note on the dining table for her son, who she knows is stopping by later. It is a thirty-minute drive from Slidell, LA to Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans and it gives her time to think. Thirty-five minutes later, she parks on the employee level of the hospital, backing into a space. There were more tears on the drive here, but they have long since dried. She leans on the steering wheel and says a silent prayer ending with “Lord, I trust you.” From the sun visor, she removes her name plate and pins it on. It says Mary Young. With a deep breath, she exits and locks the car before walking into the hospital. A middle-aged African American female with a serene smile and shoulder length hair. As she walks through the halls, they greet her with smiles, high-fives and hugs. Everybody loves Mary and Mary loves everybody. After a quick briefing about the departing shift, she starts her rounds.
In 325A is Ms. Emma Burkes, a 67-year-old Caucasian female with the early stages of dementia. She is quiet most of the time until Mary enters. When Emma sees Mary, her face brightens, and she becomes talkative. The other nurses can only look on in amazement as Mary holds her hand and converse with her like an old friend. After about fifteen minutes, Mary gives her a kiss on the forehead and promises to return before the end of her shift. In 452B, she drops in on seventeen-year-old cancer patient Linda Nguyen. “Linda, I will miss you. Now you have time to go out and live your life.” Another fifteen minutes of conversation, love and tears. Linda gives Mary a hug the seems to go on forever and promises to stay in touch. On the first floor of the Aron Pavilion is The Eason Chapel. This is where she finds twenty-nine-year-old Nellie Harris. Mary sits beside her, cradling her head on her shoulder. They pray together. Nellie, a beautiful bronze skinned beauty with braids, a victim of abuse. Mary has done amazing things with her social worker to secure a job and place for Nellie and her eight-year-old daughter, Cyann, in Atlanta, GA. This is a normal day for Mary, the nurse, with the ability to make every person she comes across feel special. Ten hours later, she is on I-10 East heading home, still praising God in her heart and prayers.
Mary walks in the door, noticing that her son left dinner on the table along with an envelope. After reading the contents, she sits and lowers her head. She says a prayer, principally focused on her son and then herself. This time there are no tears and again she is praising God. She goes from praise to grace and unwraps the meal. After the meal, she walks to the kitchen and looks at the calendar on the refrigerator. She counts months, starting with February 2000, and stops. “I am in God’s time, not man’s.” She makes the sign of the cross across her chest and ends with one finger pointing to the heavens. That night, she has the most restful sleep she has had in weeks.
It is now Christmas of 2000 as she celebrates the holiday with her son- and daughter-in-law for two months. Charles looks like her, especially when he smiles. Brittany is a raven haired Caucasian beauty one year his junior. Two years ago, she defied her family and dated outside her race. When she was adamant in her love and belief, they slowly came around and now all are spending the holiday together at her parent’s home. It is a wonderful time, and it’s clear that the connection is genuine. Mary has a slight headache and retires early, leaving laughs and games, but feels at peace.
It is February 2001, and Mary is moving through the hospital in her own unique way. Patients have come and gone, but all that has been in Mary’s orbit feel a special blessing in their lives. Ms. Burkes has moved in with her daughter, but since it is on her way home, Mary tries to stop twice a month to see her special friend. The connection has not died; Emma still smiles when she sees Mary, though she is not as talkative. But the family is eternally grateful for her visits. Linda Nguyen graduates this year and plans to go to college. Mary promises Linda that she will be there, and she will. Though she has not seen Nellie since she and her daughter moved to Atlanta, they talk almost weekly. Nellie has met someone and they talk of marriage. They say it may be later this year. Nellie says “God willing I will be there.” The headaches are a little more frequent, but they don’t slow her down in the slightest.
It is September 2001 and on the 11th of the month she stares in shock with her fellow workers as planes fly into The Twin Towers in New York. Minutes later, she sees the evil played out again as another hits The Pentagon. Tears stream down her face, her own pain taking a back seat to the misery of thousands. Later in the month, she contacts a sorority sister in New York and ships boxes of donations and cash for the families of those lost and first responders.
It is early November 2001 and Mary, Charles and Brittany are having dinner in Emeril’s New Orleans, her treat. Brittany is expecting with a due date in early December. After discussing routine events, she asks Charles about his health. He tells her he is on a waiting list for a heart transplant but following her lead; he is leaving it in God’s hands. Her mind drifts to the letter he left for her in February of last year. She clears her throat and tells “the kids” of the phone call she had on the same day. Mary tells them of the degeneration of her brain tissue and the eight months they gave her to live. She knows that through prayer, she is still here nineteen months later. There has been an increase in headaches, but none of the predicted loss of motor functions or memory. As expected, they all cry until Mary says. “Let’s not have any of that. God’s had been good to me and definitely with you, too. I will see my grandchild and there is one more thing I would like to say. As an organ donor, I want the doctors to harvest my heart for you. That’s how much I love you and I can rest in my Lord’s arms knowing that not only is a part of me with you, but it prolongs your life.”
Christmas Day 2001. Once again, they have all gathered for the holiday. Mary has told the family of her health issue, her faith in the Lord and her gift that will prolong her son’s life. “It’s all about memories now.” She told the family. “And the memory of this holiday will last for many years to come.” By the end of the evening, she is sitting in the sunroom holding her grandson. He shifts slightly in her arms before both sleep with the warmth of each other. Charles tips into the room and covers them both with a light blanket. He looks down at his mother, his son, and realizes this too will be a lasting memory.
It is mid-January 2002 and Mary is sitting in a place of honor at the wedding of Nellie and new husband Marquis. She is moving a little slower, but she can take pictures and even dance a bit at the reception. She has kept her promise and Nellie is grateful.
It is February 2002 and Mary informs the staff and friends at the hospital that she has adored and loved them and the job. Because of her advancing condition, she submits her resignation papers. One week later, after the surprise party, she bids them a teary farewell. A week after that, the Head of medicine and Facility manager from the hospital pays her a personal visit. She now needs a cane to move around, but is gracious and welcoming for the visit. After a short while, her son walks in with seemingly not surprised at his mother’s visitors. They inform her that if she chooses, she will have a private room free instead of hospice. With Charles by her side, she agrees.
It is March 2002 and Mary is transported by wheelchair into the hospital room by Charles and Brittany, and tears flow. She could swear they took this room straight from her home. Pictures and plants decorate the room and even the blanket from her bed is here. They have even moved her rocking chair to one corner. There is a bassinet between the window and chair. From it she hears the familiar cooing of Charles Jr. She opts to sit in her rocking chair and, once comfortable, she sees the crowd of people at the door part. They pushed a wheelchair through the door and she focuses her eyes on, no it can’t be. It’s Ms. Emma Burkes, and she breaks into that familiar smile. They hold hands, talk and laugh for a brief visit and, with a kiss to the forehead, the daughter wheels Ms. Burke away. They make sure they don’t overtax her, but members of the staff visit throughout the day and days to come. The patients that she so lovingly cared for now visit her, and she is glad.
April 16: Transition Day. Between medication and inward prayer, Mary feels little to no pain. But she also knows that the time is near. Outside the door, unseen, is a member of the organ harvest team. Inside the room is Charles, dressed in scrubs, holding Mary’s hand. She sees on the other side of the bed are Brittany and Charles Jr. cooing as always. With a single tear, she announces. “I’m going to sleep now. I will see you soon.” Warm darkness envelops her and then there is quiet. After a few moments, there is a bright light, and she stands at the foot of her bed. She sees her body still laying there, her family in tears. She smiles. Suddenly a figure in white robes is standing to her left, his face obscure by a cowl. Then from the right she hears a voice and a striking woman in a white business suit and short blond hair says. “I have a proposition for you. A position is about to open and we believe you are a good fit.” Mary glances at a name tag on the pocket of her jacket. It says. FBI. Agent Love.
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