Last night my wife and I were in San Francisco. We were meeting at a huge, very popular Chinese restaurant. From the entrance I could see my wife sitting alone by a window near the back. She looked so beautiful. I stopped at the desk and said I was joining a party already seated. As I walked toward her, my cell phone rang. I checked the ID. Damn it. I had to take that call. I sat down at the bar and terminated the conversation as quickly as I could. When I stood up, my wife was gone. I figured she had gone to the rest room, so I proceeded to her table and sat down to wait.
I waited and I waited. I knew that sometimes there is a long line for the ladies’ restroom. After twenty minutes, I motioned to a waitress, described my wife, and asked her to go to the ladies’ room to see if she were there. She returned and said she could not find her. I panicked. I got up and searched every booth and table in the room. She was not there. Then I went to the next room. It was filled with Asian families, including children of all ages. But still I searched every booth and table. She was not there. I went on to the next room. It was mostly young Asian couples. She was not there. The next room seemed to be mostly Asian workers. Many still wore their work clothes. Many sat alone. Some had fallen asleep on the booth benches. She was not there.
I asked to see the owner. I was directed to a small office in the back where the middle-aged couple seated there said they were the owners. They immediately started searching, asking every staff member they could find. No one had seen my wife. I was going insane. Finally, it occurred to me to call her cell phone. There was no answer. I broke down and cried. Then I pulled myself together. I knew then that I had to go to the police.
I ran through the restaurant and out the front door but was immediately blocked by the crowd that was assembled there, waiting to get inside. They were mostly Occidentals, not Asians. All the chairs and benches were full, and a large throng milled around in front of the door. Then, I saw her sitting in a corner. I started to cry again, but as soon as I could see through my teary eyes, I pushed my way forward through the throng to her. She smiled up at me. She did not rise. Then I saw why.
She was holding a Chinese baby in her arms. It was wrapped in thick, colorful, Chinese baby clothes. I asked, “What is that?”
She replied, “It is a baby girl. Her name is Mei-ling. It means beautiful and delicate.”
“Okay,” I said. “Whose baby is it?”
Still smiling like Mona Lisa, she answered, “Mei-ling is ours.”
“Oh No,” I sternly replied. “I am almost 75 years old. We have middle-aged children and now grandchildren. We are not taking a Chinese baby. Absolutely not. No way in hell!”
Then she turned the child so she looked directly into my eyes. Her eyes were as soft as a baby doe and seemed to be endlessly peaceful. They smiled at me, the angry, ugly old man who stood threateningly over her. As I looked into the depth of those amazing eyes, I saw her future. I saw her as a child barely able to walk, perfectly performing yoga and Tai Chi with my wife. I saw her as young girl running through the field back of our house, playing with the wind. I saw her at the age of eight, sitting at our red Steinway grand, flawlessly playing great classical piano compositions. I saw her as a preteen, standing on our patio, hand extended, as a butterfly landed on it. I saw her as a teenager, happy and proudly waving to me, as she drove our huge tractor through the fields cutting hay.
Then I saw her sitting by my hospital bed reading to me, in a soft melodious voice that gave me peace. Finally, I saw her standing by my casket at my gravesite with her arm around my wife. Mei-ling was a head taller than Lorrie and had just turned twenty. I had never expected to live so long. Her hair hung in two long ponytails, one on each side. I had never thought the Chinese people were attractive, but she was beautiful. I knew that Lorrie would live for another twenty years and that Mei-ling would love her and care for her like no other daughter had ever loved or cared for her mother.
Back at the restaurant, I held out both of my hands and spread wide my arms. Speaking through my tears, I said, “Let’s go home. I want to show Mei-ling our home, her new home.”
Then I awoke from my dream. Lying there in the dawning light I wondered why do we dream the things we dream? Obviously, our dreams somehow relate to our reality.
In two weeks, a needle will be inserted into the back of my right hand and then taped in place. A tube will be attached and then a liquid will start flowing into my veins. Soon thereafter, darkness will descend upon me.
Three years ago, I underwent a similar procedure. I can emphasize with the operating staff as they heard that constant monotone sound and saw that flat line flowing across my heart monitor screen. I was dead. Frantically, they worked for two minutes, exactly 120 seconds, until my heart faintly began to respond to their efforts.
Supposedly, I was not at risk for that surgery. Supposedly, I am at some risk for this surgery.
I love my wife with all my heart and all my soul. It is inconceivable to me that I would ever leave her, but I know that someday I will. Perhaps, my dream of Mei-ling was a projection of my desire to always be with her, always love her, always care for and protect her. And if Mei-ling is not to be with Lorrie, then perhaps, she can be with her in her dreams. Perhaps, Mei-ling can appear to her every night and let her know that she is loved, that she will always be loved, and that she will never, ever be alone.