Henry sat in the Doctors private office with his mother, Pamela and Michael. They made small talk and joked about the diplomas on the wall. His mother sat quietly clutching something in her hands and apparently saying prayers to herself.
Henry was at ease and at peace. He was not alone this time and felt a sense of protection and comfort. He smiled as he watched the banter between Pam and Michael, took his mother’s hand and kissed it.
“I’ve missed you. I am sorry.” He whispered.
“That’s all over now – lets get you healthy so we can move on with our lives.”
The door opened and the Doctor walked in hurriedly and seemingly in deep thought.
“I see you have the whole mishpacha with you.” He laughed.
“They are here to kick your ass if you tell us bad news.” They laughed.
“Well..” The Doctor began.
Six Months Later
Pamela was helping a little girl of around 10 or 11 put on her dress.
“You look beautiful, Sara.”
“Thank you Pamela – I am so happy we are going to be sisters!” They embraced.
“Dad, why couldn’t i just get a clip on – I cant make this tie.” Henry stood in front of his son and tied the bowtie in quick steps which took less than 10 seconds.
“Oh that’s how its done?”
“Yes, son, that is how its done.” They both laughed and they hugged. “I am so happy for you, for us, dad. I love you.”
“Thank you – I love you too kid.”
Six Months Earlier
They walked out of the Doctor’s office and were in a tentative sense of elation.
They drove to the Diner where Wendy worked – she had yet to arrive. They sat in a booth and ordered lunch in an suppressed giddiness.
“OK, so how do we react?” Pamela said.
“Well, relief?” Henry replied. “Apparently I’ve been cured.”
“Could it be? Should we get a third opinion?” His son asked.
“What can they say that’s different than, ‘he is fine the tumor is gone, healed itself.'” Henry’s mother said, “Its a miracle that happens more often than we know it. Apparently a lot of people walk around with these things and they dissipate without them ever being aware that they were close to dying. The Doctors call it ‘spontaneous remission’ I call it a ‘miracle.'”
“Its God’s way of giving me a second chance to do right with my family.” Henry added.
“Its God’s way of giving you a second chance to do right by yourself. The issue wasn’t our feelings or your accepting her as your wife despite the obvious ridicule and emasculation she put you through,” She turned to her grandchildren, “I am sorry if I offend you here.”
“No its the truth. As much as we seem to ignore it as mom being mom, it is the truth, she destroyed his identity and turned him into a -”
“No one turned me into anything. I turned myself into who I needed to be to protect myself. Unfortunately I took it to an extreme and didn’t remember to snap out of it. The ones I hurt were the ones I loved best and for that I am sorry.”
“You are better Dad – I want to get better now – all of us.” Pamela hugged her father. “We need to be who we used to be…or better yet – be the best we can be, all of us.”
There was a silence – as if each of them were thinking about what almost happened to Henry.
“Aruba was fun, by the way.” Henry said laughing.
“I bet it was – thinking your about to die any second gives you more incentive to enjoy yourself than anything else.”
“Oh yeah.” Henry replied.
From where he sat Henry faced the front of the diner and when he saw the door open and the image that floated inside – he knew there was someone he needed to speak to.
Wendy walked in and Henry immediately stood and walked towards her.
“Hey…” He said. “I am sorry…”
“You don’t need to-” He put his finger to her lips.
“We just came back from the second opinion…”
Six Months Later
Wendy was glowing and the light that surrounded her let out a warmth that spread across whatever room she would enter. When she walked down the short aisle towards Henry it seemed as if millions of rays filled with light, warmth and beauty were shooting off her.
Henry looked at her, walked the steps towards her, smiled, kissed her and they walked together up the steps.
Outside the sun was shining, a soft breeze was blowing and birds were singing. On a street corner a block or so from the Diner an older man was limping towards Walt’s. He checked his phone for messages, nothing, no one…He started to walk again and then fell on the street. Alone and no one heard or saw. When a person dies alone and no one notices – does that mean they never lived at all?