The Warmest Hug

by Susan Golian
California, USA

The Elevator Hug

When I was 24 I suffered my fourth miscarriage. My Air Force husband was assigned to another base for six weeks, so I was all alone in a small town in the western USA. I had learned two days earlier by ultrasound that this was an unsuccessful pregnancy, and my doctor wanted me to “let nature take its course.” I was to walk a great deal and that would lead to a natural end of things.

After a long, depressing walk I climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over my head to sleep and grieve. Many hours later the doorbell awakened me and I discovered I had hemorrhaged while sleeping. I opened the door to find one of my girlfriends, thank goodness, who immediately drove me to the hospital.

I was admitted to the maternity floor (no shortage of irony there) and a nurse came in to start an I.V. for me. I had a tremendous fear of needles and, having lost a huge amount of blood, my veins collapsed. I finally lost my composure and sobbed uncontrollably during the I.V. ordeal and the brief wait for someone to cart me down to surgery.

The orderly arrived, an enormous, sweet-faced black man. For the record, I am so white I practically glow in the dark. I continued to weep as he pushed me down the hall and into the elevator car.

We started down to the surgery floor and suddenly he pushed the stop button and the elevator car jerked to a halt. He came around the side of the gurney and bent down over me. He gently scooped the top half of me up into his arms and cradled me against his chest, rocked me like a baby and murmured encouragement and blessings. After a couple minutes I settled into those post-hysterical cry hiccups. Then he kissed the top of my head saying, “God bless and keep you,” and tenderly laid me back down, smoothed my hair and punched the “Go” button. The elevator lurched back into action and he wheeled me into the surgery prep area.

Amazingly, my husband appeared at my side just before they wheeled me into the operating room. My girlfriend had called someone with enough juice to make an Air Force pilot throw him into a fast jet and whisk him back to my side.

I was, of course, glad to see my husband. But I will never forget the tender comfort given me in the elevator. That man risked so much to soothe me. What if I had complained to the hospital that he had touched me while we were alone? He risked his job and possibly his career. His behavior was in stark contrast to the way almost everyone else had treated me during each of my miscarriages; as “just a body” instead of as a feeling person.

I don’t know this man’s name, but I have no doubt that others are being comforted by him to this day.

Originally published as HeroicStories #438 on Aug 25, 2003

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