She sat there, smiling, this wisp of a woman.
Her alabaster skin almost translucent, looking thin enough to flake off like onionskin.
What hair she still had was frizzy, no so much styled as simply left to hang shaggy at her angular shoulders.
Every bone protruded in a way that looked painful, contorted.
Her chest was concave. There was no definition of womanhood, no curves or hips or fullness.
Her movements were not her own — every jerk of the hand was an involuntary action that made eating next to impossible.
All around was evidence of the effort and failure of the simple act of eating — spilled drink, food strewn all over the table and at her feet.
And there she sat, smiling and talking, fully aware of the gawking going on around her.
As she maneuvered her electric wheelchair out of the crowded restaurant and to a waiting van, she paused to let a family pass by. And then she chatted with two elderly gentlemen.
I will never know her particular condition. I will never know what she’s going through, what pain she endures, what she is thinking about when she wakes in the middle of the night.
All I know is how much I admired her. She didn’t let her limitations get to her. What would have been frustrating for most of us she took in stride.
I can only hope of going through my life much like that. I know my situation is much, much different, but if I could only muster the poise she had, gain the fortitude she possessed, I’d feel like a new woman.