As I walked through Chelsea one evening this past December, I hesitated to cross the street. The flashing, white sign beckoned me to stroll safely across the intersection; however, the cacophony from the approaching ambulance and hasty drivers gave me pause. To the left, a voice said, “I decided it’s not my time.” I nodded in agreement with the tiny woman bundled in a puffy coat and hat with a pushcart in tow. We proceeded to cross the intersection at the next turn and as we walked, our pace slowed to a conversational cadence. The five blocks we walked felt like coffee with a longtime friend.
I came to know she lost her husband of 40 years five months ago to colon cancer. “He didn’t tell me until he was Stage 4. He didn’t want me to worry.” I told her I lost my dad to cancer six years ago this season and most recently, my 18-year-old kitty this past August. “I must keep doing what I have to do,” she said, referring to her trusted routine of purchasing toiletries and the Christmas tree. “My daughter stays with me now but it’s only because I have a nice apartment.” Her conviction and sense of humor underscored that it wasn’t her time. We paused again; not out of trepidation but as an affirmation of the moment we shared in those five, short blocks. We bid each other a fond farewell and then continued to our respective destinations.