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A selection from
cover of book photo of Karen Propp Karen Propp
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nice-looking one. He has the spry body of a wrestler, which he was in high school. The wineglass before him is empty. He looks rakish and ravaged.

Our last meal in Paris is at a restaurant called Arpege. More than the Picasso museum or the Opera or the shops along the Champs-Elysee, Sam wants to experience Arpege. "Who knows when I'll be here again," he says a little ominously.

Sam could describe for you what we ate. The herb-encrusted pigeon, the beet glaze splattered like paint. The tray complete with afromage from every province, a regular tour of the French countryside, complete with bleating goats and milk cows and intoxicating fields of lavender. The tomato, which arrives squashed as a baked apple, for dessert. "Taste it," Sam directs me. "Have you ever tasted anything like this?"

I hadn't. But what I will remember most about this spectacular meal is the boy at the table next to ours.

He is fourteen and has the well-bred, well-dressed look of a child dining in an expensive adult establishment. He has the tall, gangly frame of an adolescent who is good at sports. He sits closest to his father, with whom he shares glossy hair and long eyelashes, and every once in a while I notice a silent glance pass between them in response to something his mother says.

And then I have trouble seeing him at all. A hard knocking behind my eyes blurs this image.

I too will soon have a boy. And sitting in that fine restaurant, drinking the first wine of my pregnancy, the emotions I've tried to keep in check hit full force. Fourteen more years is a long time for Sam to survive prostate cancer, that much I know. Most medical studies are not nearly so optimistic, they compile mortality rates five, seven years out. The knocking travels to the back of my skull and down my spine. I feel the baby kick my heart. How


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