I sat down to eat my lunch at one of the two-seater tables. I wasn’t looking to take up much room–just wanted some time for my legs to rest and to enjoy the food. It was a casual place, and people talked amongst themselves and smiled politely. I noticed the older couple mostly because they were sitting across from me. They weren’t talking, but that didn’t seem too abnormal. The more I glanced in their direction, I noticed their hands touched ever so slightly as they rested on the table. When they had to move them for eating purposes, they gently went back to touching as if it were as natural as breathing.
Her cellphone rang as she was halfway through her sandwich. Through the mingled sounds in the room, I heard her say the words, “surgery, again, wait, scan, silicone, Tuesday.” Her eyes started flooding with tears and she handed the phone to her husband. He finished the conversation for her as she finished eating between deep breaths. They both seemed disappointed when he hung up and handed the phone back to her. From what I could tell, they were trying to talk to one of their children about getting in a visit with the grandkids before her surgery next week. The schedules weren’t lining up and the miles between them weren’t few. I watched the man’s eyes as they talked. He looked down at his empty plate as she scrolled through Facebook on her phone.
I don’t know their story, or where this road is taking them. It’s a cancer story, though, and those are not easy. His eyes were sad, but the tone of his voice was hopeful. I quietly pray he is able to comfort his wife and support her in this journey. It’s a path of unknowns; twists, turns, bumps perhaps.
I wonder if they’ve talked about what happens when she’s gone. I wonder if he has thought ahead to a time when his hand will rest on the table alone or if he’s hoping against the odds.
I wonder if they’ll get to see the grandkids this weekend or if her heart will ache as she heads towards “surgery, again, Tuesday.” In many ways, this could be the beginning of her goodbyes. I hope I’m wrong and that it’s merely a chapter in the middle of her story. But if it’s not, if it’s closer to the end of the book, I hope her hands will touch his softly until their last words are shared.