A Bittersweet Lunch

by Maggan

in Emotional Support,Family & Friends


Before my scheduled check-up with my new gynecologist, I have lunch at my friend Marie’s invitation. She picks Anise, one of my favorite lunch places, one with so many memories of earlier, happier, days when Marie and I both had sons and our sons were both in the International School, a few hundred yards away.

As always Anise is crowded at lunch time. As always, there is a smattering of French coming from a table somewhere, and from the staff as they weave in and out between the small rickety tables bringing water, wine, and bread baskets. We sit outside in the court yard. The sunlight ripples through the wisteria leaves. It’s all a bit funky and run down. Paper table cloths. CafĂ© chairs. Wildflowers in large terracotta pots.

It is such a reminder of the days when misfortunes were only future abstractions, not present realities. I can not count how many lunches I have spent here with friends worrying mostly about others, especially the kids. About grades, about college, SAT scores, about drinking and driving. About the boys being accused of doing things to girls they never did or meant to do. About my girls being taken advantage of by boys like our sons, or worse, by older men.

Not once, as I recall, did we ever talk about anyone getting sick. If we ever talked illness it was with a shudder at the thought of having elderly parents far away, or at the possibility of Alzheimer’s. “That would be the worst,” we’d all say almost in unison. But mostly we talked about books, politics, food and the kids, their prospects for the future, and what we would do when they went to college and we were “free.”

“Dr. Morte is rather glum,” Marie warns. “Glass definitely half empty, and don’t expect small talk. But he seems thorough.”

“Thorough is good,” I acknowledge “at least when you deal with a doctor and not an IRS auditor.”

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