We entered the cafe, looking for our usual booth. It was open and Marie waved us to it.
We sat down, I was holding H— since it was Mother’s Day, doing what I could to give Cec a break. We talk about the normal everyday things that we always talk about, mixed in with some peppered interjections about the podcasts we’d both been listening to and the occasional pause to look at and talk to H—.
Marie came over to get our order and as Cec spoke for both of us, I noticed that Evelyn was at the counter, with a world-weary look on Her face. She’d always been great to H— and me and Cec in our time here, helping us feel welcome almost immediately.
I tried to puzzle over why she’d look so weary and was going to ask Cec if she’d heard anything, but H— started fussing and I forgot in the immediate flurry of helping her.
Our food came and we chatted, but I kept seeing Evelyn and thinking that we should say something to Her.
As we finished, we finally made our way over.
“Hey Evelyn, how’s it going?” I ask.
She raises Her head from Her steaming cup of coffee and smiles wearily, but warmly as She locks eyes with H—.
“Always tired and sorrowing for the ills of the world and particularly for my sisters,” She replied.
She paused and swallowed, but the air was filled with Her words and holy, it felt wrong to speak, to violate the silence and space that She’d created, so I waited.
She started and stopped a few times, looking for the precise words to fit, the entire time communicating deeply with H— wordlessly.
“I’ve served the good people here for years and still, pain and suffering surrounds us. Despite my best efforts I can’t prevent people from hurting and I know the value of pain and the inevitability of grief, yet, still it hurts,” as She opened Herself up, tears welled in the corners of Her eyes and began to fall, “I look around me and am tired. Tired from the work I’ve done, tired at the thought of all the work there is to do, tired from the work that must be left to others.”
H— began to growl, babbling wildly and enthusiastically, smiling and looking straight at Evelyn.
Evelyn smiled and laughed as H— continued, a smile and laugh that know deep pain, that feel the full breadth of life’s emotions.
“Thank you,” She says to all of us, but mostly it seems to H—.
We say our goodbyes and I walk to towards the door, holding H—. I look around as I reach the door and see that Cec and Evelyn are talking, I think about going over again, but something holds me back. I simply watch. They part with a warm farewell.
As Cec walks over we join hands, fingers interlocking. I smile at her and we walk back to the car.