Thursday, February 03, 2011

Love Sweet Love

Sometimes I look across the smoky bar and see a person who smiles and chats and seems OK. Really OK.

But he's not.

How could he be?

Does it matter that last time I checked we weren't talking? Does it matter that when I heard about it and texted him, he ignored my text?


His 18-year-old son is sick. Very sick.

And no matter what stupid petty grudges I nourish in my selfish petty heart, I can't get past this.

He goes up to do a song and waves to me.

"You guys on waving terms?" asks Addy. No. We're not. But still. So I smile and nod and acknowledge his wave. And he comes over after and shakes our hands. Says hello. And goes back to his table.

And then the music dies away slowly. Everyone's leaving. So I tell Addy I'll go say hi.

And I do. And I ask how the boy is. And his face crumples. He doesn't have to pretend. This was not a PR call. I know. And I care. Even after all that went on before.

Who can even remember what went on before?

He tells me. He says, I don't question God, but if anyone had to get sick, why couldn't it be me? And he says, my son is strong. So strong. He drives himself to and from chemo and he says to me, Dad, if it's my time to go, it's my time to go.

Eyes stinging with tears.

And I hug him and tell him I'm so sorry.

A break-my-bones hug, the kind you give when you mean it. The kind you give when the other person is in so much pain.

And he tells me: "I'm barely holding it together."

And I say: "Be well. Take care."

Thank you, he says, and leaves.

And it's nothing, not one tiny pebble in this great ocean of hurt.

But I'm glad I did it.

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