A selection from
would I explain an absent father to a boy of fourteen? To a child
not yet born?
I excuse myself from the table and am practically ushered to
the ladies' room by a cadre of waiters. I splash cold water from a
silver faucet on my face. I do not want to cry. Not here, not now.
This is my happy time with Sam. Tomorrow we will fly home to
Cambridge, and soon enough we will sit in specialists' offices. We
will discuss Sam's rising PSA. Sam will go for his biopsy. Soon the
baby will arrive. Soon enough events will tumble one after the
other, quickly transforming our lives.
I am then suddenly overcome with the enormity of what I've
taken on. I've told very few people about Sam's probable cancer
recurrence and just now I want someone else to help shoulder the
burden. Someone to say, "It'll be all right." Someone to say, "This
is how it happened to me." But there is no such someone. No one
I know. No friend of a friend. Not even a book to which I can turn.
In such a desolate moment my book begins.
I wash my face in the Arpege ladies' room and walk back on
shaky legs to my husband. He smells fresh and fragrant, like the
giant calla lilies in a glass vase on the entrance table. He's had his
gastronomical experience, drunk plenty of wine. Just then, unafraid to die, he opens his warm hand to me. "Come," he says. "It's
time we got going."
It is a balmy, starry night on the rue de Varenne. Our soft-soled shoes are silent on the cobblestone. Sam's hand is a gentle
pressure on the small of my back. Gone is my despair, and in its
place, a momentary fullness. I am full with food, full with child,
and just now, I am full with love for my Sam. Even if everything
that follows is disastrous, I tell myself, I have this fullness.
The next morning, we board the flight home. Ahead of us lies
a long trip. Savoring this final indolence, I rest my head on Sam's
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