Walking home from a neighborhood street sale (NY style garage sale), I popped in a Chinese restaurant around the corner from my place.
I met Laura.
She ordered just before me, abour 5’7″, 60 years old, black, dressed in layers of dark colored sweats and looked a bit downtrodden. When she spoke you could see her one bottom tooth, which led me to wonder if she regularly wore dentures, but couldn’t be bothered today.
Laura sat and I asked,”Do you come here often?” She responded, “I just live upstairs.”
And so it began. She told me that she hadn’t slept all night because at 1am she received a call that her older sister has died. I then moved and joined at her table. While she spoke, her eyed became glassy with sad tears. Her elder sister and brother, who were only 11 months apart, were two peas in a pod. “Everyone played like they were twins. He was in banking and she was in finance. They ate lunch together everyday.”
Her sister had been diagnosed 8 months prior with terminal cancer, which Laura was thankful for the fact they had time to reconcile the impending loss. “It still hurts, though,” she commented. “Eventhough we had the warning, it still hurts. She was the one that held the family together.” Laura also has a younger sister and the nephew of her now dead sister. The nephew won’t answer the phone for anyone but Laura. She was concerned for him and planned on going out to the Bronx where he lives, as well as her parents, who are in their 80s and her other sister. Not sure why Laura moved down to Manhattan.
Laura left me with hopeful encouragement. “Ya know. She’s gone and we have to carry on. We don’t have a choice. She’s at peace now. I have to remember that: she’s at peace. We’re the ones left behind, upset, but we have to move on. Her peace will help me get through it. I just have to remember.”
She was quite lovely.