Walking back to work from Union Station post office when i’m approached by a young man asking for a quarter. His voice is very uneven.
“Man, you got a quarter?”
“No, but I have a dollar coin,” and reach into my coat pocket to pull one out and hand it over.
He starts to cry.
“I’m sorry. I gotta talk to somebody about this. I just found out my m-m-momma died.”
“Oh, man, what’d she die of?”
“Cancer. Over at KU.”
“I’m really sorry. How old was she?”
He continues to sob.
“Just take some deep breathes for a minute, OK? It’ll be all right. It’ll be OK.”
“What am I gonna do?…I took care of my momma…I was a good son.”
“Cancer can get anybody. It ain’t your fault. I’m sure your mom knew you loved her. Anybody else in your family you need to let know?”
Quietly, “Just me…”
He turns to walk away, then turns back, reaching his arms out to hug me, hesitating at first then continuing forward. I embrace him fully and tell him it’s all right.
But it’s not all right.
I walk back to my building and step into the elevator going up and I know it’s not all right.