I had a migraine that day. It was set to be one of the bad ones and I decided to leave for home. I had missed the bus and so prepared to walk the two miles. It was cloudy and threatening to rain and so I picked up my yellow polka-dot Mary Englebriet umbrella and set out on my way.
As I got to the Monroe Street Bridge I noticed a man leaning on the cement banister, looking out over the water. I'm always aware of people when I'm walking. I try to assess them and make up a story about them. This one though was different. He was older than me, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. My first thought was, where's his coat – it's going to rain and it's cold still for early April.
I got closer and just wanted to get past this guy. I was chanting in my head "don't turn around, don't turn around, don't turn around." I was just inches past him when he said "Hey lady." I planned on ignoring him and I planned to keep on going, but there was something about the tone. I stopped and looked back. He looked at me, soft sad brown eyes.
"Yes?" I hesitantly asked.
"Help me. I'm going to jump."
There's dead silence; I can barely hear the river below; I don't notice it has started to rain.
"What?" I ask – surely I didn't hear him right.
I pointed my finger at him and I think I only said "STAY", not anything else. In my head I was shouting, "You stay right there and don't you move one muscle!"
I ran up the walk to the first building at the edge of the bridge. Closed! I ran to the next building. Closed! What's with all these closed buildings? I don't have time for this! I went to the next building and couldn't get the door open. I don't know why. My brain stopped working and I was a blithering idiot. I finally noticed a phone booth right next to me and miracle of miracles I even had money on me, in my pocket. I dialed 911 and told them my story. The dispatcher questioned me with "How do you know he's going to jump?" "He just told me!" I yelled back. I hung up in despair and my mind is screaming "O my God O my God O my God"
I ran back down the sidewalk, the man still standing there, O thank God, leaning over the edge. Just then a police car came down the road, the absolutely only car for three blocks! Two officers gently approached the man and lifted his hands off the edge of the cement wall and carefully guided him back to their car. The three of them made one glance at me and then drove away.
And there I stood with my cheery sunny umbrella while it rained in earnest now, pouring tears from Heaven.
Three weeks later, on my birthday in fact, I was reading the paper and I got to the ad section, which I never read, and it just caught my eye, a little ad:
"To the lady with the yellow umbrella. You saved my life. Thank you."