Coffee With Alyssa

If we were having coffee, I would put my hand on your arm and tell you that I’m sorry.

Sorry that we didn’t spend more time together.

Sorry that I didn’t seek you out for a quiet tête-à-tête on Friday or Saturday.

Sorry that I didn’t thank you enough for giving up the concert on the first night so you could watch me eat chicken and corn-on-the-cob (which I didn’t actually eat). Or thank you enough for the beautiful gift you gave me.

I could give you all my excuses — a whole litany of them. Regarding my dad, and my husband, and my kids, and my situation, and a dozen other phrases that begin with “my”.

My litanies do not belong in any liturgy

I used to joke that my spiritual gift was worry. I am really good at it. But I won’t make that joke anymore. It’s not funny.

Worry is a thief. It robs me of the moment I am in.

It robbed me of the sweetest part of the weekend, of being fully present with people I love, people like you.

But this weekend opened my eyes to a deeper meaning of Jesus’ words — “Be not anxious for this life… but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:24, 33)

I’m a slow learner.

But I’m learning.

How ’bout them Red Sox?

If we were having coffee, I would insist on making it.

You use those K-cups, and I know they are convenient and all, but ever since my friend, Alyssa, mistakenly sent me coffee beans — which she followed with a coffee grinder — I have found any coffee other home-ground to be lacking.

I would grind some Kona beans. Then I would use my coffee maker that I bought for $6 at the thrift store — because I figured out that the beans matter far more than the machine.

And I would prattle on and on about Kona beans and thrift store finds and this and that, anything to avoid the topic at hand — Dad.

You know, he would probably be sitting in the neighboring room, watching the Red Sox game, well within earshot of our conversation, but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

When the physical therapist came the other day, she was asking him questions and he just went blank. Blank stare. Blank face. No response to questions, just fidgeting with his hands. She turned to me and I answered them. I felt so uncomfortable talking about Dad, and for Dad, with him sitting right there, but I guess that’s where we are.

I’d ask about your mother-in-law. I know she doesn’t have long in this world.

No one really warned us about this stage of life, did they? No one told us that we would, one day, no longer be celebrating milestones in our lives, or our children’s lives, we would be counting down the days we have with our parents — ticking them off, like a pregnant woman waiting for labor to start, thinking we know approximately when, but not really, not actually, not definitively.

And not waiting with joyous anticipation, but with sad resignation. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

There’s nothing to be said, though. You are caring for her, and I am caring for Dad.

I’m not ticking the days off yet. I hope it’s many years before we reach that point.

And I hope it is mere days for you — because the last ones are so hard.

I listened to the terrible death rattle in Mom’s lungs when she was dying. It was the most terrible sound I have ever heard. I prayed for it to stop, knowing it would mean her end, but also knowing it would be her beginning in a whole body, with a whole mind, in a place of peace and rest.

If we were having coffee, I would change the conversation.

“How ’bout them Red Sox?” I would say, and we would both laugh.

We were raised on the Red Sox in the days of the Curse of the Bambino, the days of always losing.

“How ’bout the Sox?” you would repeat back.

And the words would settle around us like plaster dust while the coffee grew cold in our cups.