I said goodbye to my coffee woman, Lina, yesterday.
Lina is an amazing woman.
We have shared secrets, deep thoughts, caring words, and support for one another over the past two years. Lina worries about me when I come in late to work, and I worry about her when she hasn’t had enough sleep.
We think about each others’ health and welfare when we don’t see one another. I guess that would define us as friends.
This week was hard. Every time we saw one another, we noted how many days we had left. She asked me to promise that I would not disappear on my last day as she wanted to say a proper goodbye. I agreed.
I walked up to her cart with a heavy heart yesterday, and put my money on the counter. “Large iced-coffee. No cream. No sugar.” I said.
Lina threw my money back at me, and said “I am not taking your money today.”
She told me she started having chest pains the previous evening. She explained that her family has a history of heart attacks and stroke, so her husband rushed her to the hospital. Lina was released from the hospital at 12:00 and had only had two hours of sleep.
She said she prayed and prayed that she wouldn’t be admitted to the hospital. She didn’t want to miss me on my last day. She wanted to say goodbye.
I walked to the back of her cart and we took a quick picture with one another, and she hugged me so tightly. “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!” she repeated over and over.
I replied, “I love you too Lina.”
As all of this was happening, a group of construction workers crowded around her cart waiting to purchase coffee. I apologized for holding up the line, and one of them responded in a New York accent, “Don’t worry. That was a beautiful moment.”
I handed Lina a card which contained a lengthy note and some cash. She handed me a gift bag and a tray of muffins.
We said goodbye again, and I walked away.
When I got to my office, I opened the gift which contained a card. It’s addressed to: My Princess April. I steeled myself as I opened it.
I am not good at goodbyes either.
So yes, Lina. Let’s play hide-and-seek.
I will find myself on the corner of 52nd and Lexington at some point to say hello, but until then, know you are one of the most wonderful people I have ever been honored to know.