It was May—a warm day for the season—and the hour was coming up in the early afternoon. In a small town on the middle island was an old woman getting off a bus at the stop in front of the local hospital. Her name was Edith Poulsen. She held the big door handle while first stepping down the one high stair with both feet and then onto the ground. Once she was down, she steadied herself and began making her way towards the main entrance. Her gait was not fast but determined.
She wore a light blue dress, which brought out a breezy hue in her white-gray hair, a summer cardigan just in case, and beige supportive hosiery in sensible shoes of the same color. Over her right forearm, she carried a burgundy nylon tote bag with a pocket in front for her keys and wallet. She had a small bouquet of yellow freesias with the stems wrapped in a wet paper towel in her left hand. As she walked, her clothes made a soft friction noise.
The entranceway to the hospital was like the opening to a beehive. People milled in all directions and sometimes so close, and with such speed, they were about to knock her over. When that happened, Edith slowed down even further to let them pass.
“Hastvaerk er lastvaerk,” she said, “God is in no hurry. If He were, He would’ve taken both Regitze and me by now. No, He is not done trying us yet.”
Edith stayed her course past the main entrance and on to a smaller building behind it. It was quieter back there.
“Som inde, saa ude,” she sighed as she walked through the doors that had opened without a sound, “as inside so outside.”
In the lobby, she called an elevator, and when it came, she stepped inside and saw it was already heading for the second floor. She looked up to the light in the ceiling where an angel floated in the left corner and said,
“Du vidste nok, jeg kom i dag. You knew I was coming, didn’t you?”
The angel nodded and then glided through the air over above Edith’s shoulder. They both got out when the elevator stopped and went to the right and in through the heavy door, which Edith had to lean a little against to get open past the empty nurse’s station and into room 222 on the left.
As she entered, a nurse was smoothing over the top sheet on the far side of the bed.
“Oh, hi, Ms. Poulsen,” the nurse said, looking up from her task, “lovely day today, isn’t it?”
Edith didn’t say anything but smiled while she stepped over to the tall bedstand and hung her tote bag on the hook on the side and placed the freesias she had brought on the top. She then grabbed the metal cup with wilted pink carnations and turned to the sink in the corner, threw the flowers in the trash bag, emptied the stale water, and filled the cup with fresh water.
“She had a quiet night,” the nurse said, now done with her smoothing and standing at the end of the bed, “I heard you spoke with Dr. Hansen on Monday, Ms. Poulsen?”
Back at the bed stand, Edith unwrapped the freesias and put them in the cup. She then turned and gazed down at the young woman in the bed. The right side of her neck and face was still bruised and swollen, where the drunk Toyota Corolla hit her. The only sound in the room was the slow in- and exhale of the ventilator machine. From the open window, though, there was a faint buzz of life being lived.
“Det er ikke endnu,” Edith said, her voice shaking but strong, “it is not time. The Lord is not ready to take her home yet. And He will be the one who decides when my granddaughter leaves, not the good doctor.”
Then quieter she said,
“God will let me know.”
The nurse’s cheeks rosied.
“I will leave the two of you to it, then,” she said a bit too loud and chipper and scuttled out.
Edith walked around the bed and sat down in the visitor’s chair next to it. She took her grandchild’s hand in both of hers.
“No one is gonna rush you, my dear,” she said, “all in good time, all in God’s time.”