Miranda celebrated her 100th birthday alone, as all her loved ones were no longer alive. But as she blew the candles on her cake, the doorbell rang, and an unexpected man stood outside her door. It was a surprise she didn’t expect after 60 years.
“I can’t believe I’m still here,” Miranda said as she lit the candles on her birthday cake and sat at her kitchen table. She was grateful for her years of good health and the miracle of a long life, having witnessed the world change through wars, technology, music, and love. She had a wonderful life.
Sadly, all her friends and loved ones were gone. She never married or had children, but that was her choice. Her career as a nurse had been too important to her. Many people warned her she would regret it in the future, but regret wasn’t precisely the right word for her feelings.
Miranda felt peaceful and happy, and although loneliness hit her sometimes, she was perfectly fine by herself. Until her birthday came. All she could do was remember her past, the parties, and the celebrations. The best way to describe her current feeling was bittersweet.
Miranda’s jaw dropped at the revelation, and long strings of memories rang through her mind.
But she wouldn’t let any negative feelings get in her way, even if she was alone. So she sang happy birthday to herself and blew the candles, wishing for the world to be better, for more people to go into medicine and help others, and for scientists and politicians to take climate change seriously.
The sound of the doorbell made her jump in her seat. “Who could it be?” she asked and stood up. The scratch of her chair’s legs against the floor made a horrible sound as the bell rang again. “Coming! Coming!”
“Hello?” she said upon opening the door and seeing a strange man on her doorstep. He must have been in his 60s or early 70s, but Miranda had no recognition of him. At first.
“Nurse Estevez?” he asked and smiled widely at the older woman.
“Nurse? Oh well, I haven’t heard that in years. But do I know you?”
“It’s me! Adrian!”
“Adrian?” Miranda asked, pursing her lips. Finally, she shook her head. “I’m sorry. I don’t remember you. Can you give me a hint?”
“Don’t worry. I expected this, but I can give you more than a hint. I’m Adrian Miller. 60 years ago, you treated me when I was at my worst. I was your patient at Flagler Hospital. Do you remember now?” The man was still smiling at the older woman.
Miranda’s jaw dropped at the revelation, and long strings of memories rang through her mind. A poor little kid had suffered a severe form of cancer, and none of the doctors thought he would make it. But all the nurses on staff, including her, had so much hope.
Adrian smiled brighter than other sick kids. He was also kinder and more intelligent. They all wanted to see him get better.
Miranda was in her 40s, and seeing kids in that state was always the worst for her. But watching them recover was the best feeling, and Adrian was one of them.
Despite doctors’ grave prognosis, chemo and surgeries worked on the kid. After months in the hospital, Adrian was released, with nurses and staff applauding his miraculous recovery. He waved at them as their parents shed silent, happy tears to be bringing home their son, healthy and cancer-free.
For several years after, Miranda kept in touch with Adrian’s family. She called, and Adrian’s mother gushed about her son’s health. He was doing well in school and was finally back to playing outside. Happiness prevailed at the time, and the older woman remembered telling his mom, “This is the first miracle I’ve seen in my career. Cherish it.”
She was sure Adrian’s parents cherished him completely. But they eventually moved to another state and lost contact with the nurse who had loved their son so much.
To see the boy standing now in front of her as a full-grown man was another marvel and something Miranda had never expected.
“Oh my god! My dear boy! I can’t believe this. Come here,” she breathed and wrapped her arms around him, keeping them there for several minutes. “Let’s go in and have some cake!”
Adrian sat down and was shocked at the cake, as he had no idea it was her birthday. “Well, this is great timing! I get to you give a gift!” he said, taking out his phone. They both put their glasses on as Adrian scrolled through pictures of his wife, kids, and grandkids. There were also pets, travels, and pictures of his graduations. His whole life.
Miranda took her glasses off as tears ran down her face. “This makes me so happy.”
“I’ve been trying to find you, and finally, the hospital – Flagler Health, as it’s known now – agreed to give me your last known address. Thank God you didn’t move,” Adrian said, putting his phone away.
“You really wanted to find me to show me these pictures?”
“No, I just wanted to thank you. We recently had a health scare with our first grandson, and I was reminded of you. How you told me to fight with all that I had because I had so much to live. I think… I really took your words to heart. I think that’s part of the reason why I made it. Because for years, all my mother could say was I was a miracle. But I think you made me fight, Nurse Estevez,” he explained, making Miranda cry some more. “And I’m so glad you’re still here. The world would be a horrible place without you.”
“Oh, dear boy. This is the best birthday since… well, forever. The best ever. Tell me more about your life,” the older woman said, wiping off the moisture from her face. “But let’s have some cake while we talk.”
She rose to cut some pieces of cake and offered Adrian some milk. They chatted for hours and hours, making Miranda forget the bittersweet feelings in her heart.