Friday, February 28, 2014

Lunch Date

This morning I got a rare and unexpected phone call from Jan. She wanted to know if I'd join her for lunch at UVRMC before she did another healing this afternoon--a teenage boy in critical condition after being hit by a drunk driver. It meant missing a class, but this would be my first chance to see Jan in more than a month, and who knows when I'd get another chance?

I drove to the hospital with all sorts of mixed emotions--anxious to see her again, still angry at her for ditching me without even breaking up, worried that seeing her would make me fall in love all over again, nervous that we'd have nothing in common now that she's dropped out of BYU and is doing the mutant thing full-time. What I wasn't prepared for was that I'd hardly recognize her. I entered the hospital cafeteria and almost walked right past Jan. She was sitting at a table near the door, but she looked nothing like the Jan I knew. Her eyes were sunken into dark circles, her hair pulled back in a ponytail that looked brittle enough to break off if I touched it. She wore gray sweats two sizes too big for her now-frail body. And, to be blunt, she smelled like a homeless person. The Jan I knew was never one for dressing fancy and wearing perfume, but at least she showered regularly and took care of herself. She always smelled nice. I suppose this is what happens when you devote literally your entire life to helping others.

"Hey," I said once I recognized her.

She smiled feebly. "Hey."

I gave her a hug--more than that would have felt awkward after so much time--and offered to go get her some food. She didn't seem strong enough to stand up. Judging by her looks, I expected her to be starving, but once I set the tray down in front of her she just picked at it while we talked. When I asked, she explained that she'd eaten this morning when she woke up from the latest healing coma, and while she was out they had her on an IV so it's not like she was nutrient-deficient. I suspiciously eyed her bony cheeks, usually a healthy tan but now paler than my own pasty white, but said nothing.

Jan told me about the people she had healed--nine in the past month--and I gave her updates on mutual friends from UUPP, her brother, and Lucy. I was careful not to talk too much about Lucy or mention how much time we'd been spending together, but I'm not sure Jan would have cared anyway. She didn't seem especially interested in anything I had to say.

After watching her stare blankly into space for far too long, I finally said, "Jan, I don't think what you're doing is healthy. You look like crap."

For just a second I caught a glimpse of her familiar, sarcastic smile. "Always the charmer, X."

"That reminds me," I said, "I came out on my blog. With my real name and everything. Also in my creative writing class."

Jan nodded. "Cool."

Something about her tone made me feel kind of small and ridiculous--like here I was, proud of myself for telling people I'm a mutant, while she's spending every day of her life actually using her power to make the world a better place. I'm not sure that was her intent, but it was the message I got.

That's when I finally accepted what I've known for a month. "It's over between us, isn't it?"

Jan reached across the table and barely touched my hand. A brief spark of connection passed between us. Then she took her hand back. "I don't think I can be with anyone, X. That's not the purpose God has for me."

I could have argued that no matter the good she was accomplishing, no loving Heavenly Father would want this life for anyone--barely awake long enough between comas to have a meal, then on to the next healing and coma. I could have fought for our relationship. But you know what? I didn't care. For the first time since our relationship actually ended a month ago, I was ready for it to be done. Don't get me wrong--I don't hate Jan. I really do respect what she's trying to do. She has the noblest of intentions and she's more dedicated to her cause than anyone else I know. It's just that I've spent the past month mourning the loss of someone who no longer exists. Jan is gone. I don't think the blog name I gave her even fits anymore. For a brief time she was Jan and I was Mormon X, but now she's Melanie Jensen, the young woman you've seen all over the news as she goes from hospital to hospital healing people, and I'm Ben Christensen, that guy who has a blog that one person at BYU once recognized.

And that's okay. We're different people, going our separate ways. After lunch, we hugged. I went to my Friday afternoon class, and Melanie went to save a young man's life.


  1. Really appreciated this post. Closure is a good thing, even if it's a bit painful/awkward. And prayers for Jan, errr, Melanie!

  2. Thanks, Austin! It was good for me too.