Out To Lunch

Andrew with my cousin Renato at Chutney Masala Summer 2008

Two friends took out me to lunch yesterday. When they first asked me, a couple of weeks ago, it seemed so far away into the future that I said yes. Now I wasn’t too sure.
“Go. It’ll do you good to get out of the house,” my husband encouraged me, seeing that I was getting nervous.
I was nervous because even though I had known these two women for a few years (one had been a real estate client of mine), we had never “gone out” together before.
“What if I burst into tears?” I worried on my way to the restaurant.
As soon as I pulled into the car park shared by the Red Hat, where we were meeting for lunch, and Chutney Masala, the Indian Bistro where Andrew worked the summer before last; I burst into a flood of tears. I couldn’t see, even the windscreen wipers of the car would have had trouble keeping up with the flow.
The owners of the restaurant, had emailed me a couple of days earlier,
“We’ve only found out today about Andrew’s death. He was like a son to us,” they wrote. “We enjoyed seeing him when he came in a few times this summer. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.”
I remembered how happy Andrew had been the afternoon that he came home and told me that he had found a job.
“Well done,” I said. “When do you start?” I asked him.
“Now,” he said, going up the stairs two at a time to go and change.
I waited up for him that night, wanting to hear all about his new job.
“My feet are killing me,” he said, lying at the foot of my bed. I gave his feet a massage with peppermint cream while he told me all about the Tandoori oven, the other people who worked there, the diners he had recognized and so on.
“What did they give you to eat?”
“A lamb dish, it was delicious, but I am not sure what it was called.”
Sitting in the car park by the Hudson on this cold windy day, I looked around trying to imagine Andrew driving to this same parking lot. Probably looking for a spot close to the restaurant, parking the car, locking it and sauntering in for his shift. He would be wearing black trousers, a white shirt, his hair pulled tight into a pony tail… my Andrew.
I sat in the car until I was able to stop crying, then I got out and made my way to the Red Hat.
One of my friends was already there, she had arrived earlier to make sure that I wouldn’t have to wait there by myself.
In the end I needn’t have worried about going or not going. Yes, I did cry at some point, but I was in the company of two other mothers, and while they could not even begin to imagine the depth of my sorrow and even despair; they knew that, were they in my shoes, they would be crying too.
I am glad I went, and I am grateful that these two women cared enough to want to treat me to lunch, to reach out to me with their friendship and womanly solidarity.
The grieving journey is indeed a personal one, but a bit of friendship and support along the way do make a difference.
Thank you Deborah and Wendy.

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