“Giselle, honey, it’s your Oma. She’s had a stroke.”
“How bad is it? Should I come home?"
“There’s no immediate danger. Your father and I don’t want you to miss your studies unnecessarily. We’ll buy you a plane ticket if and when you do need to come home.”
Lacey sat up in bed when I hung up, “What’s wrong?” she asked in a groggy voice.
“Sorry to wake you. My grandmother had a stroke.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I’ll keep her in my prayers.”
“Sure, sure. I’m fine. Let’s just go back to sleep.”
In bed, sleep was elusive and I just tossed and turned. When the alarm went off, I dressed and headed to class as planned. But I understood next to nothing of that morning’s lecture on the history of Buddhism.
As we were dismissed for the day, Breanne caught my eye. “Ready to eat, Zella?”
“What? Oh, right. I’m afraid I won’t be very good company today. I’m not even very hungry.”
"You look so down. Something wrong?”
In a rush I spilled out all my fears that Oma would die before I got a chance to go home and say goodbye.
She squeezed my arm. "I’m so sorry. You shouldn’t be alone at a time like this. Come eat with me and tell me more about your grandmother. Or just chill, whatever you feel like.”
Her kindness touched me. Over lunch, I discovered that talking about it did help. Breanne reached across the table to pat my hand whenever my voice got choked up.
“Wanna hang out later?” Breanne asked as we cleared our table.
“Okay, I’m in Reid 213. Just come over any time you need to talk.” She let her hand linger on my shoulder and gave me a meaningful look.
“Reid 213. Maybe I’ll stop by after my afternoon classes.”
“Great, see you later then.” She gave me a tight hug.
I wasn’t used to so much affection, especially with a new friend, but figured folks were just more affectionate in the Midwest or something. I returned the hug. “Later.”
I didn’t make it back to Breanne’s room that afternoon, but I ran into her on the Quad between classes the next morning.
“Sorry about yesterday. I ended up Skyping with my friend Alicia back home, and by the time we got off it was almost time for dinner.”
“No worries. Are you going to Wet and Wild tomorrow?”
“Not sure …”
“My RA says you can’t miss it. They turn the hills down into the Hollow into a giant slip and slide! There’s also mud football, swimming in the lake, water balloon fights. I think it sounds like a blast.”
I pulled at the collar of my shirt, sticky with sweat. “I’m ready to jump in the lake right now. But the one thing I didn’t pack for college was a swim suit,” I said.
“Just wear grungy old clothes you don’t mind throwing away at the end of the day. See you out there tomorrow?”
“I’ll think about it. Probably. Even if I don’t get wet, it will be fun to watch!”
Back in my dorm room, Ian and Lacey were sitting on her bed, an open Bible between them.
“Hi, Gigi!” Ian said. “Lacey and I thought it would be cool to read through the Bible together. We just finished Genesis 1 and 2. Wanna join us?”
Lacey made room for me on her bed. “We’re just taking turns reading aloud and stopping to discuss anything interesting.”
“Sure, I’m in. Either of you planning on Wet and Wild tomorrow?”
“Is a frog’s butt watertight?” Ian said. “Wouldn’t miss it!”
Lacey grimaced. “That’s definitely not my thing. You’re not thinking of going, are you, Giselle?”
“If I can figure out what to wear.”
“Just buy something at the thrift store,” Ian said. “I was already planning to drive into Exeter later. Field trip!”
“I’ll tag along for that,” said Lacey. “I never pass up an opportunity to shop. Let’s go right after we read Genesis 3. Ian, you start.”
We didn’t even get past the first verse before getting pulled off into a tangent about talking animals, C.S. Lewis, magic, and spiritual warfare. Ian told an amazing story about participating in a real exorcism.
“Wow, didn’t expect to be talking about that today,” Ian said. “And all because of one little verse. But we’d better scoot if we’re going to make the thrift store before it closes.”
At the thrift store, I bought beat up sneakers, a forest green t-shirt that said “I’m not Irish but kiss me anyway,” and grey sweatpants, all for $11.
I went to sleep that night content and excited about the next day. Who knew? Oma had met Opa here. I could be about to meet the love of my life.