I gave up coffee in the fall. I went from a grande nonfat, no-whip white mocha to nothing in the span of a day. After 11 years of drinking the same drink, I couldn’t stomach the taste of it anymore. Since the fall, I’ve only visited Starbucks a handful of times for a coffee. Today was one of those times I just needed to deal with the suddenly-offensive taste so I could wake up.
The line at the O’Hare United C Gates Starbucks was longer than I would’ve liked. I thought about getting off the line a few times, but stayed. I had one+ hour drive to my destination so I needed some caffeine since I had woken up at 4:45 a.m. Eventually, the barista took my order and another one made my coffee. Nearly 15 minutes after I lined up, I walked away with a grande nonfat, no-whip white mocha with a splash stick stuck through the lid so I wouldn’t spill anything on me as I trekked from the terminal to the baggage claim.
Coffee in-hand, I descended an escalator into the tunnel that contains the moving walkways. The neon lights on the ceiling cast a strange glow onto the moving walkways. I took the one on the right so I could throw my splash stick into the nearest garbage can. I took a swig of my white mocha and winced. I parked myself on the right side of the walkway and continued to sip.
But then I noticed someone standing in front of me who looked familiar. It looks like Wendy, I thought. It can’t be. She lives in New York. What would she be doing here? Ugh, same thing as you. She’s probably here on business.
I was unsure whether the woman in front of me was my dad’s friend, who was also one of his business associates in the 70’s, and whom I hadn’t seen since my wedding over seven years ago! What’s the worst thing that can happen if it’s not her? Someone will give you a crazy look and you’ll keep walking, mocha-in-hand.
I passed the woman on the left and said, “Wendy?”
She looked up. “Yes?”
“Hi. It’s Stacey. Stacey Shubitz.”
A smile spread across her face. She greeted me with a hug. Whew! I can’t believe I was right!??!
“I just saw your parents a couple of months ago,” she said.
“I heard. It’s so good to see you. Of all the gin joints in America. Who would’ve thought I’d run into you here!”
We caught up as we continued down the subterranean walkway. We took the escalator up to the ground level and said our goodbyes. She went to ground transportation and I walked to the baggage claim.
As I stood by the baggage carousel, waiting for my larger than life suitcase to emerge, I started thinking about running into Wendy. If it hadn’t been for Wendy, I wouldn’t have any vivid memories of my grandfather. You see, she and her mom saved my grandfather’s life when I was just two years-old. My grandfather had spent months in the hospital. He was ill and needed blood, but no one in the family was a match. Wendy and her mom got tested. They were a perfect match. Because of their blood donation, my grandfather lived almost 11 more years. My heart fills with warmth and gratitude every time I hear Wendy’s name. Seeing her made me forget how tired I was and brought me back to fun times with my grandfather. Because of Wendy I have real memories of my grandfather. To this day, I am thankful for the life-saving gift she gave my grandfather so many years ago.
And to think, if I hadn’t waited in that long line at Starbucks, my day wouldn’t be filled with thoughts of my sweet grandfather whose been gone for almost 25 years.