He was coming over for dinner. She had called him, and said, it was just leftovers but he was welcome to join her. He knew better. She had such an amazing touch in the kitchen, he would gladly ‘settle’ for her leftovers.
When he came in the door, she was on the phone. “I have to go,” she said, “my ‘Friday night’ is here.” She didn’t wink at him, like she was making a joke. It made him wonder, what she thought of him, or them. They had known each other for years, and finally, when they were both single again, had slept together. On more than one occasion.
She had a way of being direct. He thought, maybe it was cultural, she being of Chinese heritage. Or was it just her? He knew she was empathetic. He had seen her at her job, as a caregiver. She was kind and caring. She left that stable job at a large company, because they thought she was spending too much time on each patient, instead of pushing them through faster.
He had a special needs child, who was actually in his mid-twenties. The situation made life challenging. Single women were attracted to him, but when they met his son, they didn’t walk away, they ran. But she didn’t.
And now they were spending more and more time together.
But what was he to her? As time went on, he wanted a deeper relationship. But she had been resistant. He thought maybe it was because she was divorced. Maybe it had something to do with her three children, although the oldest was approaching 40.
Now he thinks he knows better. He guesses her first bout with breast cancer had left her wary of getting too attached to anyone else. In the months leading up, he had seen little signs that her health was changing, but managed to convince himself, he was worrying too much.
Then he overheard her talking to a nurse. “It’s in my bones now,” she said. She’s in hospice now, the cancer having spread throughout much of her body. It’s only a matter of time. He’s never seen anyone die like this. His father went quickly, with a heart attack.
Despite the fact that he was the one to accompany her when she was admitted, despite he being the only one with her for the first two weeks, the doctors and nurses don’t talk to him. They don’t tell him anything, because he’s not family.
Her three grown children are here now, and her parents, estranged from her for years, have flown in from Calgary. They don’t regard him as family either, if they regard him at all.
But in their private moments together, he knows, she knows, he’s more than just ‘her Friday night’.