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I hadn’t seen Tim in quite a while. But there he was in the coffee shop, sitting alone in a corner booth across the room as I claimed a table for myself and a friend. Tim seemed absorbed in the morning paper and didn’t catch sight of me.
I was a bit early, so I dropped my car keys in place and went to say hello. I startled him. Wide eyes and a tight mouth followed.
“Hey, Tim, long time no see.”
I shook a limp hand as he replied, “You’re lookin’ good, guy,” Tim said, hardly looking up.
“Thanks,” I said, “You, too. How’s your wife?”
His face flinched and I knew I was missing something.
“Joanie passed, what is it, seven months ago. While we were down in Sarasota.”
“Oh, God, Tim. I’m so sorry. I had no idea…”
“Come real quick at the end. Buried her down there,” his eyes misting, finally catching mine. “I’m still missing her.”
Tim’s wife had struggled with Multiple Sclerosis forever, since her mid-40s, and Tim doted on her every need. A real-life love story. He shook his head, saying “I still don’t know what to do with myself. Long days, longer nights.”
“Kids around?” I asked.
“Were for a while, after. They have their own lives and know I need my space. Their living abroad doesn’t help any.”
“Ouch. That’s gotta be tough, Tim.”
“Tell me about it.” Just then my friend arrived. He didn’t know Tim so he just waved, pointed at my keys. I nodded and he sat down, reaching for the menu. Tim blinked a couple of times, flicked his hand, saying, “Go,” and twitched his mouth. He thought a moment before
adding, “I hope you never have to find out what it’s like not to be needed.”
I said, “Hang in, things will get better, Tim. Give them time.” I added, “I am so sorry,” and turned to greet my friend. Never once that morning did Tim look our way. Somehow he left without my seeing.
Three weeks later, I learned Tim committed suicide.