By Valerie Dill
“This is my best chance to say hello,” Jason thought. They were positioned just close enough to start a conversation. But instead, he glanced out at the rain hitting the room’s windows. “She’s here to donate blood, not be bothered by a random guy.”
His eyes drifted back in her direction, and he noticed a purple ribbon pin attached to her jacket. He looked up at her face and when their eyes met, she smiled slightly.
“Pancreatic cancer?” Jason asked softly and looked back down at the pin.
“Hmm? Oh. Yes,” Chloe replied slowly. “My mom.” She lowered her eyes and sighed. “We lost her four years ago.” She glanced up and her gaze met his again. His eyes were warm and sincere.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s hard to lose someone you love.”
“Yes,” Chloe agreed. “I make it a point to donate blood, especially around this time, to honor her memory and those who donated blood to help her and others that are sick or injured.”
Jason smiled. “A great way to give tribute to your mom with lasting purpose.”
“Yes, I like to think so,” Chloe replied and returned the smile. She usually had a difficult time talking about her mom. But Jason made her feel at ease.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Their donation bags were halfway full. Chloe nudged her glasses up the bridge of her nose and asked, “Do you donate often? I think I’ve seen you here before.”
Jason’s pulse quickened slightly. “She remembers me?” he thought to himself in disbelief and ran his free hand through his dark hair. “Uh, yes, I guess you can say I’m a regular of sorts. I’m O negative, universal donor. Good for all blood types but particularly important for other O negatives too,” he answered. He smiled and continued, “I was home visiting around this time last year and donate wherever I am when I can. I’m in my last semester of nursing school, so I guess it’s part of my calling to help people.”
“Nursing? Wow, that’s wonderful,” Chloe said. “So you’re home visiting again?”
“Well, I was in school on the East coast, but the factory I was working in to help pay tuition shut down unexpectedly. I ended up having to move back in with my folks, and they are helping me finish my last semester of school here,” Jason started, averted his eyes, embarrassed.
“I think it’s great you didn’t give up on your dream,” Chloe offered. “And to have a supportive family to help you reach a goal you have been working toward.”
Jason smiled at Chloe with relief. It hadn’t been the easiest road, but it was true he hadn’t given up yet. And it was good to be reminded to be grateful for the support he had.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Their bags were full, and the Red Cross nurses finished up the donation process.
Jason walked over to the refreshment table, hoping Chloe would too. His heart skipped a beat when he felt her walk up beside him and sit down. His attraction to her felt electric.
Chloe took a sip of juice. She felt good about donating and getting to talk with the handsome stranger she first saw a year ago. She felt something between them too.
Suddenly, her phone vibrated with a text. She read it and quickly stood. “I’m sorry, I have to go. There is an emergency at work. It was nice talking with you. Good luck with nursing school!” she called back as she ran out.
“Wait!” Jason called after her. “I didn’t even get your name!”
But it was too late; she was already out the door and lost in the crowd.
After that day, both Jason and Chloe looked for one another whenever they went to donate blood, but never ran into each other.
Jason graduated from nursing school with honors and accepted a position in a local hospital. One night shift, victims of a fire were brought in by ambulance. Later, some of the firefighters from the scene stopped in to check on the injured.
“Any news that can be shared on the fire victims brought in earlier tonight?” one of the firefighters asked the group of nurses at the desk.
“They are stable,” Jason answered and turned toward the voice. The firefighter asking the question was Chloe.
Both surprised, their eyes locked, and they both smiled.
“This is my best chance to say hello,” Jason began.