As I drive along the crowded streets of the city, I take notice at the bright lights and many people. I turn my light on to signal that I am open and that I can pick people up. My life as a taxi driver in New York city is very busy, my day never ends. I look for someone who is in need of a ride.
As I do my normal sweep of the New York City streets, I see an old lady. I wonder to myself why she is all alone in the heart of the city, an old woman like her should be inside of a house in bed. She relies on her cane and is resting her weight on it as she wobbles slowly down the street. Her arm is extended, letting me know that she needs a ride to one of many places in this city. I pull over and she walks toward my cab. She looks as though she will break at any moment. She shakily opens the door and walks in. She purses her lips slightly, emphasizing the wrinkles near her mouth. This lady’s hair is white and thinning, almost in a sickly manner.
“Where am I taking you?” I ask. This is a routine question for taxi drivers.
“New York Presbyterian Hospital”.
“Are you visiting someone?”
“I am going to say goodbye to my best friend who is in hospice care”
Those words left me speechless. Here I am, a taxi driver in New York about to take an old, fragile lady to the place where she will see her best friend die. All I can think to ask is why she is there. “Why is she in hospice care?”, my voice quietly asks. She tells me that she does not want to discuss what happened to her friend and only says that the doctors are finally out of ways to save her life.
“We’ve been best friends for 73 years”, she said, “I have never been as close with anyone else before because we are both unmarried with no kids. I do not know how to be alone.” It is obvious that this woman is scared. I can not do anything but feel bad for her. I have been a taxi driver for many years and have heard some crazy stories, but this is by far one of the saddest. I have a heavy feeling in my heart. I look in my rearview mirror and see a tear roll down her face. This poor lady looks exhausted, her worn skin wet with fresh tears.
I drive slow to the hospital. I want to give this woman as much time as I can before she is completely alone forever. Inevitably, we arrive to the front doors of the hospital, I drive near the sign that says “Hospice Care Patients”. The woman looks almost hesitant to get out of the car. Her eyebrows scrunch together forming a crease on her forehead.
“I am just thinking about how my life with be after I walk through those doors,
I thought we would grow old together, but now she is leaving me first.”
“Well you have to go sometime”, I say.
She knows this is the hard truth, because she pulls open the door handle but not before asking how much the ride is. Feeling pity, I tell her that the ride is free. She thanks me and begins to leave. “I can’t just leave her alone”, I think. I put the car in park and get out of the car. I saw how sad this woman was, and it is not right to leave her at a time like this. Her eyes widen, surprised at my presence. Then, her features soften into a sad smile, that says “thank you” without her having to speak at all.
We stayed together for a while. I squeezed her hand letting her know she was not alone. Her friend laid in bed, eyes closed in a tranquil manner. The old lady grabbed her friend’s hand and kissed her cheek softly. After sitting in silence with the old lady, whose eyes were deep in thought, I knew it was my time to go. I will never forget this night. I will never forget the sadness in this woman’s eyes when I first saw her. As I graze the streets looking for people who need rides I think about this. I see someone’s arm extended out and pull over to get them, still running through those moments in my head. The passenger climbs in my car.
“Where am I taking you”, I mindlessly say. The person in the back seat answers, and my night continues. I will never forget the poor old lady who was going to watch her best friend die. I hope one day I am as close with someone as these two old ladies were. I hope one day someone comforts me the way I comforted her. As a taxi driver, I can not save lives or help many people, but it was enough for me to comfort one old lady in a crowded city.