Her hair shines with the day-before-yesterday’s shower. It hangs, slightly curled and floating down her shoulders, matching the brown wood grain she sits against. Her light blue eyes are alert and absent, scanning the passing faces for the one she knows is probably here while she anticipates their meeting. Tears? Ted might cry now. Alone in the transitory crowd of thousands, she waits. The quiet din of lunching in Grand Central echoes off the gilded, marble ceiling. She expected to feel the rumbling of trains reverberating through the dark wood bench she sits on, but she doesn’t feel it. She feels instead the deep weight and ache of sudden loss, and the stretching burden of knowing that the loss is more dear to your soul’s second half than it is to yourself. So she waits for her husband who is struggling to finish a morning’s work.
Nick had battled long with old age and his broken body. He’d had his first heart attack when Ted was meeting her family for the first time. He’d flown to Colorado two Christmases ago to ask her parents’ blessing. He woke up the first morning to a call from Texas about Nick. Uncle Jeff was with him when it happened, and it turned out that he had a medical rap he’d never even told his wife about. Caitie sat with Ted in her old, purple room while he cried and shared how he wasn’t ready for Papou to go. They wondered if Ted should fly back to Texas to be with the family, the conflict between being present with his history or preparing for his future weighed on him. Thankfully, his mom called few hours later with news that Papou was stable. Ted stayed and was given the blessing to make Caitie his wife. Papou recovered very slowly but enough to fly from San Diego to New York City for their wedding eight months later. He’d sat in a chair on the edge of the dance floor with his wife and enjoyed the celebration of his oldest grandson’s marriage.
Her phone buzzes in her pocket. “Sorry, phone off. Are you here?” The gold glittery case is slippery and crashes to the marble floor when she fumbles for it too hurriedly. “Yes! Meet at clock?” She stands and buttons her black pea coat around her and weaves her way upstairs to the clock in the terminal and her waiting husband. Sometimes he goes in early and is dressed and gone before she wakes up. Today was one of those days; his blue and yellow paisley tie mocks his blue checkered shirt. His arms wrap all the way around her when they hug, and his hands often reach back to his own shoulders. This security of being enveloped is not there today, and she is the one struggling to wrap him tightly.
“I’m dissociating. Like you.” He says.
Oh great, she thinks. “Christine was worried about you. I joked that you should come to therapy instead of me next week.”
Ted smiles at this. He knows Christine–Caitie’s therapist–thinks that he’s the most emotionally healthy person Caitie knows. “I want to process this with you tonight, when I get home,” he says, “because I have a meeting in half an hour.” She nods and gives his hands back: “I’ll have dinner ready at 7.” He kisses her on the cheek and hands her half of his chicken and broccoli for lunch. She watches him ride the escalators into to the Met Life building before she turns to catch her train home.
“Thanks for lunch.” She texts later. “I came to take care of you and you ended up taking care of me!”
“You’re onto me…” he responds. “I love you.”
*Not my best attempt at 3rd person omniscient. I have so much more to learn.