The ear-splitting wail of the ambulance siren died to a low groan as it stopped at the emergency entrance. The emergency technicians moved with learned dexterity, bringing the patient into the able hands of the ward's waiting medical team.
At the same time, Barbara Quinn, was just finishing her shift at the hospital. She hadn't been able to see who the patient was, and knew they didn't need her in the busy ward trying to find out. It wasn't long until the ambulance driver stepped back out. He came and leaned on the ledge in front of the nurse's station. "Who is it?" Barbara asked.
"Sean Webb," was the answer. "Don't know if he's going to make it this time…" "Oh, no…" although it wasn't a complete surprise, immediate concern clutched at her insides. "Melina will want to know." She picked up the phone and dialed the familiar number. "No answer" Barbara sighed after an anxious interval. Then, more to herself than aloud, added, "wonder where she could be?"
"The pool would be the logical place, as hot as it is today." She punched the time clock and headed for the parking lot. "I hope she's there…"
Barbara sat in the car a few minutes after parking close to the south fence. Her eyes scanned the water, then the surrounding area. It took only a few moments to spot Melina cheering her grandson, Bobby for his dexterity in the water. Barbara was short and heavy set. Her wavy, close-cut, auburn hair next to the profound whiteness of her uniform made her quite obvious in the pool area. Melina rested on the side of the swimming pool with her feet dangling in the cool water. It seemed to be an ideal way to relieve the stifling ninety degree heat of the long August days. Bobby, Melina's six-year-old grandson, had come for a visit. He preferred the pool to games in the park. As Melina relaxed, watching him, she was reminded of another vibrant youth form yesteryear, that bore such a striking resemblance to this one. He was the only child of her oldest daughter, Crystal. They lived over a hundred miles from Melina's home in Chester, but he was always allowed to spend a week with Granny Wright.
Although she had not known Bobby's grandfather when he was a child, she could see many of his features recreated in this child. Maybe she saw them, now, because she alone knew the possibility of them being there. Maybe because she looked for resemblances no one else expected to see. If this time and series of events had not become so emphatically linked to the past, for her, she might have missed seeing the similarities along with everyone else. Barbara heaved a reluctant sigh and opened the car door. She knew the news would not be welcomed but it had to be delivered anyway.
"Melina," her steady, female voice broke into the thoughts of the two swimmers. Melina turned to face her friend in wonderment. "Well, hi…" she jumped up and moved toward the fence between them,. "did you just get off work?" The answer was obvious. Melina felt slightly uneasy at Barbara's presence;. Why would she come here? she asked herself. "What are you up to?"
There was a long moment of silence as the two women faced each other. Barbara's steady, blue eyes looked intently into the eyes of her friend. Melina immediately sensed the seriousness in the other's expression. She knew something was wrong. "What is it?" Taking hold of the fence, she leaned toward the woman on the other side, with sudden anticipation taking over.
The time had come -- it had to be said -- Barbara swallowed hard -- "They just brought Sean into the emergency room -- he's in trouble -- may not make it," she paused briefly, studying Melina's face. The words struck her like a quick slap. Her knuckles showed white on her brown hands as she clutched the fence. "I'm sorry," Barbara continued, "but I knew you'd want to know. I tried your house, then decided you must be here." "Could I see him if I went up later?" "I don't know -- maybe tomorrow --" her voice trailed off.
Melina stood as she was for a moment. She didn't want Bobby to see her tears. "I'm not ready for this!" She felt anger again as she had only a few short days ago when she had said those same words to Sean "He's really nothing to me," she thought, " not really -- just a good friend." She could lie to everyone else with that, but not to herself, she knew better.
Sean had looked straight into her eyes the day she spoke of not being ready and slightly raised his graying eyebrows and said, "Then you better get ready, Doll." He smiled that winning smile of reassurance, even though he knew that wasn't what she wanted to hear. The heavy sigh from her own mouth reminded her of Sean's calm assurance that God still had everything under control. It encouraged her. She remembered the complete confidence in his pleasant smile. His faith in the God he had learned to love would encourage her own faith and be strong enough to convince her that Sean was, indeed, in good hands. Melina slid, unnoticed, into the refreshing pool again. The coolness of the water helped calm the anxiety she felt.
"I'm still not ready, Sean," she whispered to herself, " I'm trying -- but I'll never be ready --" She turned face up to float on her back. Her arms floated free at her sides and she finally relaxed,. The buoyancy of the water carried her body quietly over the surface. Her eyes were open and as they filled with tears, her mind began to relive a special friendship from the past -- a springtime so long ago that had returned, briefly, to bless her life again.