It is snowing quite nicely outside, chocolate chip cookies are fresh
out of the oven, and I've made my way to the couch with some of those
and a cup of tea. It's awful how fast the weekend goes, but perhaps
that is what makes this late afternoon time of greying skies and
swirling flakes so delicious. It is wonderful just to be in this moment
after a strangely tiring week.
On my way home midweek, Thursday, I went along the main road through town, which unlike Main Street, has become a busy road, splitting lakeside from countryside, and mixing little cottages with a Burger King,WaWa, MacDonald's and Seven Eleven, a Firestone, a gas station, and a generic autoshop in all of three blocks. There was a car pulled over to the side opposite me, also a police car, an older man in a yellow school crossing-guard poncho, and two young police officers standing next to a new-looking compact car, light metallic blue, whose passenger side door was open, and into which they were peering now and then. Traffic was stop and go and the speed limit is very low; I looked over at the car. At the wheel, eyes closed and head slightly slumped, was a fairly elderly man. There are a number of retirement communities in the area, and the car could have been headed back from the supermarket up the road back toward home. It had been raining, and now there was a sheen as the sun came out: kids were walking home from school, cars kicked up spray. The officers and crossing guard did not look anxious, as if they were waiting for an ambulance. Perhaps they had not determined what was wrong. The man's face was quite visible to me across the road: he was comfortably dressed, looked like flannel and a jacket; his skin had the pale softness that the old often have; pale lashes, red gone to grey. He had a cap on; some grey hair. It was a beautiful afternoon and the sun glowed on his skin, the closed eyes, the tilted head. The car was pulled over neatly onto the shoulder, perfectly straight, wheels aligned. Perhaps, I imagined, he felt something coming on, a diabetic sugar low, pulled over and had time to communicate and is now just resting. I hoped, but I saw no movement, nor did I see the officers attempting to get him out of the car. The scene was very quiet, a pause where only the slushing of car tires kept any rhythm at all.
I hoped, but as the light changed and traffic began its slow advance up the hill, I had such a powerful image of an old man, feeling well enough, gone to market in his little sporty car, all set for home, and then--- And then. Perhaps it was because I was on the last leg of my commute, having imagined for miles the cookies and tea I would soon be savouring, but the idea that he had gone out for a simple errand, had left his house, looked at the things that comforted him and that he loved, perhaps was already imagining returning to, was unshakable for quite some time. For a brief moment, as my car passed out of view of his, I wondered if a cat was waiting for him at home, a spouse, a loyal dog. How short life is; out for an errand, and you're gone. I've known people who have had terrible, protracted deaths, others who knew it was coming, others suddenly gone. Not the point to debate the merits of each here, and no point in that, really, at all. I don't know what happened to him; no has story appeared in the paper. I wonder, did he get to go home again ? For the sake of that gentle, sun-touched face, I hope so.