A Love Like Karen’s

I recognized the waitress behind the diner counter.

Karen. She had been my mother’s Weight Watchers’ meeting leader from 20 years ago.

And when Karen was at the front of those meetings, the whole room shook with energy, possibility, tenderness.

She wouldn’t recognize me. The few times I was dragged along, I sat in the back, on the side, in the corner.

I stuck my hand across the diner counter towards her.

Karen, I said. She looked right up at me. I’m Caitie. My mother –

As I spoke, Karen picked my hand up from the counter and held it between her two hands.

If she remembered me, there couldn’t have been much to remember. I had been on the periphery of Karen’s life, at best.

Still, here she was. Holding my hand between her own. Placing me at the center of time.

And I, who expected nothing when I stuck my hand across the counter, felt unexpectedly loved.

Yes to this, I thought. To placing those on the periphery of our lives right in the center for even the briefest moment we share with them. 

We finished talking. She went to pour coffee. I went to order breakfast.

A love like Karen’s, I thought. If we all loved like that, this whole world would shake with energy, possibility. And tenderness.

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