7AM, the day before yesterday, standing in line at Starbucks, stationary, getting itchy…

It’s “study hall” each Wednesday — Yes, I cherish too that hour before I meet with the guys at Corky’s. Working on my computer, greeting friends passing by, a pre game, it is,  to our Breakfast Of Champions.

—Yet the line wasn’t moving, and I was still third.

After what felt like eternity a second register opened. Calming a bit, I moved to the on-deck circle, within earshot of the sole putz customer holding up traffic. What in the world (I wondered) could this guy be ordering?

—So I tilted in and listened…. but heard only small talk.

I didn’t roll my eyes, like I wanted and I didn’t grimace outward either.  The world needn’t see, I well figured, how restive I was — how put out I was.

Soon, of course, this lone ranger not only got his coffee, but paid, pivoted — and left.

“Thank you for your patience,” said the same warm barista that serves me each week. “He has nobody to talk to, and, well…”

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

3PM the same day, wandering semi-lost through the lobby of Cleveland’s V.A. Hospital…

It’s a massive facility; I’d never been there before. The sign outside states it’s the third largest such hospital in the land. There to see a new client, I’m struck as I walk the halls by the intermittent but consistent parade of people on crutches, or in wheelchairs, or whatever. Struck too, am I, by their good cheer.

I meet with the guy. He’s older than me — by ten years, maybe more — but we connect.

“Were you in the service?” he asks, and I nod.
“Just the Reserves.”
“I was in Germany,” he tells me, “Peace time”.
“Did you ever meet Elvis?”

We joked a bit –- about nonsense as men tend to do. We shared too of family — both of ours. Black or white, it’s all the same.

“I’ll be back next week.”
“I wish I could come to your office.”
“No big deal,” I assured him. “ ‘Probably hit you on the way uptown and tie it into a run for Aunt Helen.”
“Try not to make it Tuesday,” urged my friend. “That’s when I have chemo.”

He leaned forward, we shook hands, and I left.

I walked from the hospital — briskly. After all, Thanksgiving Weekend awaited. I passed the same warm faces on the same staunch crutches, the same old wheelchairs…

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Thursday morning, 7:30 AM:

Waking to the gentle sound of Carrie, I lingered in bed. Glancing out the window for my short morning regimen of prayer, I heard her clear voice.

“I’ll get coffee,” she said.

I rose moments later.  Walking downstairs , I greeted yet another day of a life filled with family, friends, and activity.

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