waiting

She ate lunch in God’s waiting room – which was really just her term for one of the old luncheon clubs in the city.  She had spent a lot of her professional life eating at this club with aging males who had a fondness for trying to father her.

Across from her sat one of her retired mentors, now silver haired and as ever, silver tongued.  He had eyebrows that suggested ferocity and a booming voice that promised the same.  When he still worked, he had a terrible temper and exhibited an exacting standard that punished even the best of her colleagues.  Except he had always been kind to her, for reasons she did not understand.  She didn’t care to understand him; she had just decided to be grateful for his kindness instead.

And now, as he declined in age and stature, his old fire flickered like a guttering candle.  He told gentle stories about his grown children and his young grandchildren while tears welled in his moist soft eyes.  When he talked about his wife’s fragile health, he had to catch himself a bit and hold onto the linens mid sentence to steady his emotions.   He even took a moment to tell her that he had always felt she was one of the finest of his colleagues and certainly the best person he had ever mentored.  It was a bit of a farewell speech, she sensed, and she felt a certain odd empathy – almost affection – for him, this lion in winter.  They concluded the lunch with a somber talk about his own impending mortality, of which he was clearly afraid.  She brushed off his talk of death and they hugged before parting ways.  Still,  she wondered if she would see him again here, in God’s waiting room.  She made a promise to herself to attend his funeral when the time came.

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