Her eyes were full of life. Her bright voice echoed through the car. Every person that took a seat next to her was greeted as a friend. Her name was Francine. She was 84 years old. She had lived in the city since she was a little girl. Her husband George had passed eighteen years ago. She had four children and thirteen grandchildren.
Anyone who sat in the car for more than a few stops could have told you all of these facts. The leisurely cadence of her voice became a pleasant white noise. As hellish as the ride had been, there was great comfort in the sound.
You hadn't noticed that her rolling conversation had ceased. She was across the car. But then another voice punctured through.
Francine? Francine! Is anyone here a doctor?!
Every eye swiveled over to the corner in which Francine had been sitting. She was slumped over against the wall. A small crowd rushed over to her side. One man was a nurse. He took her pulse and immediately began to perform CPR. He pressed on her chest and called out to her.
Come on, Francine! Hold on! You've got to see your granddaughter's graduation!
Another person had informed the train's engineer. An EMT would be waiting at the next stop. The nurse was uncertain if they would be able to do anything, but he persisted in his efforts to save her life.
The train sped towards its station. As the car hissed at the stop, the nurse took Francine's pulse one more time. His shoulders slumped.
I'm still not getting a pulse.
You stared into Francine's eyes. Once so full of life, they were now vacant. You thought about what those eyes had seen for 84 years. The hopes and the joys that had filled her vision. And you imagined all of the women and men who had been ignited by her presence over the years. In an instant, the light of her eyes was gone.
The people standing around her bowed their heads. The doors parted open and everyone stepped back so the EMTs could lift Francine's lifeless body up on to the stretcher. And she was gone. The door closed. Dazed, you stumble back to your seat. One more stop until you're home. And all was blur then darkness.