She walks in to the room. Immediately I am awestruck. I feel ill, itchy, like I need to escape, pick up and leave. Only problem is that I can't move. I'm frozen to the spot, can't even stand to welcome Dr Angelou, thank her for allowing me these moments. I'm intimidated, embarrassed to be nothing more than myself.
She smiles that broad, delicious smile.
For a moment I forget myself.
I see only her.
My eyes fill with tears. I don't want to cry-she hasn't even spoken yet. She adjusts her necklace, big red and yellow beads, sits down, touches her hair and straightens out her skirt. I still haven't moved.
"Hello Thom." She rasps. Her voice is as rich and filled with as much wisdom as I always imagined.
I manage a smile. I can feel the sweat drip under my arms. She's looking at me. I hope she can't see my nostrils flare. I'm only glad the thoughts inside my head aren't visible. They would fill the room, fast and liquid, drown the both of us.
She's still looking. I know its my turn to speak. She's not trying to make it easier, stuffing the gap with niceties. I respect her even more now. It would be easy to pacify the situation by saying its OK. She's teaching me perseverance and we both know it.
I'm mustering up the courage to speak, the words are boiling up inside of me, travelling through my body, into my throat. I'm about ready to burp them out. I close my eyes and hope for the best.
"Hi Dr Angelou. Thank you for meeting me."
I said something. My body is lighter, the cloudy fog that I created around myself is lifting.
Maya reaches for a ginger biscuit and bites into it. I can hear each crunch, each one louder than the last. I'm comforted by it somehow and I smile. She's caught my smile. She's smiling back.
"I'm so worried about what I might say Dr Angelou that I think its almost safer to remain silent."
She takes a moment, she's breathing deeply now. I think she choosing her words carefully.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
This is everything that I need today. I can't stop the tears now. They are streaming down my cheeks. I don't even try to dry my face, I'm just sitting with Maya Angelou, living in the now.
If I remember nothing else about today I will at least remember how I feel now.
Dr Maya Angelou has given me that and today it is everything I need.