He and his cane sat just behind the bus driver on the M7 headed downtown during the late afternoon rush hour. He was speaking to an old black man in a hat and suit who sat with his cane across the aisle.
“My wife just passed,” he said. A mixture of matter-of-fact resolution and pity-free sadness. “We were together 40 years. February 26. It’s been very hard.”
The two men looked directly at each other. Neither spoke aloud, but the tacit exchange between them was palpable.
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” he asked the man in the hat.
Just then, several people got on the bus, and I was unable to hear the rest of their exchange.
The black man got off the bus a few stops later. Through the window to my right (I was in a one-seater), I watched him stand on the sidewalk and look up at the bus toward where the other man was still seated. The bus pulled away.
Several stops later, the other man got off the bus. Very slowly. He stood on the sidewalk looking lost. People with at least 50 years less experience than he had zipped by him without looking at him. He took a few halting steps south and paused to allow anyone and everyone to hurriedly make their way wherever they were going. He stood still in the midst of the blur.
I watched him the entire time the bus was stopped at the red light. I watched his face closely and realized I would probably never see it again.
I wanted to get off the bus and take him to a diner for a cup of coffee or tea or whatever else he wanted or needed. I wanted him to tell me about his wife.