On this day ten years ago the beautiful and talented actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away. I never actually met her, but just by being in her presence under special circumstances created a special and eternal bond between the two of us. This is my remembrance and tribute to this magnificent lady.
In July of 1961, at the age of eleven, I was hospitalized for six weeks with acute ulcerative colitis. As my family had no health insurance, I was admitted on an emergency basis to what was then Cedars Of Lebanon Teaching Hospital in Los Angeles. My temperature was a 105 degrees and I was immediately given a series of blood transfusions. It was not until years later that I learned I had nearly died.
Every day, the young interns would come by and make their stops before each room, observing the pediatric patients through the glass walls and taking notes.
Although I was seriously ill, the young boy in the room next to mine was far worse. I was told he had leukemia, and through the glass window separating our rooms I could see him, growing ever more frail by the day-ghostly pale, as if fading from the world.
One day there was great excitement outside my room. An entourage of several well dressed, important looking people were coming down the hall, surrounding a couple: a dark, somewhat slight man with less than perfect skin, and a woman who drew everyone’s rapt attention. It was Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor.
She really did look like the Most Beautiful Woman In The World. In her physical and creative prime, she radiated beauty- as well as style, elegance and that difficult to define, sadly diminishing quality called class.
She was there to visit the fading boy. I could see her through the glass, talking with him and touching him gently; and I could see the fading boy responding- this beautiful, compassionate woman came to visit him- responding to her grace and kindness and, however briefly, he glowed in her presence.
Within days, his room was empty.
After all these years, I’ve never forgotten the fading boy, or the beautiful angel who gave him comfort when it was most needed.