The part of downtown Dayton where we sat down to have lunch was bustling with communters. Various noises filled the air, RTA buses, and voices threatening to drown out every decibel of sound. Still, the Evelyn’s weeping was all I could hear.
“I mean it’s as if I’m not even there.”
She cried as she loosened the wrapping from one of the Great Steak Philly cheesteak sandwiches she had picked up before we had gotten together.
“I mean, I walk in, and whatever they are talking about, everybody just gets really quiet! I mean it’s weird!”
She wiped a tear from the right side of her face, and took a small bite of her sandwich. I looked at her, trying to gather my own thoughts as I reached into the greasy brown bag, and took out a couple of fries. She chewed, and wept,… wept, and chewed.
“But isn’t this, for the most part your family?” I asked, reaching for more of the hot fresh potatoes that had burnt my tongue only moments before. I loved Great Steak’s fries, especially when they were hot, the way these were.
For a moment, she stopped crying, and allowed herself to laugh at the greedy way she says I always enjoy my food.
“What?” I giggled. “You know I love these fries! At least you’re not crying anymore. Hey, whatever it takes to make you smile!”
I handed her a restaurant napkin so that she could dry her tears. The noise, and heat from the busses that passed by the bench where we were sitting seemed to dissipate just a bit the longer we sat there. I hardly noticed all the people.
“I mean, it’s church!” She said. “No one should feel that way when coming into the house of the Lord.”
“You’re right” I told her. “But if they don’t understand that, what can you do? Go somewhere else! If you’re not getting what you need there, find a new church.”
The words seemed to fall on her like a blanket of sadness. And, before I could speak again, tears returned like unwelcomed guest.
“I don’t mean to make you cry, Evelyn. I’m so sorry.” I put down the bag, took a sip of my soft drink, and reached out to hug my lifelong friend.
As she lay on my shoulder, she cried. I used my hand to brush the long weave she was wearing out of her eyes. It was nothing unusual for either of us to lean on the other an sob uncontrollably. But sitting there, in the wide open space of Third and Main, people were starting to stare.
“Come on” I told her, packing away our lunch and standing to my feet. “Let’s walk.”
She threw her half eaten sandwich in the green bin that stood next to the bus stop bench, and threw her black Michael Kors bag over her shoulder. I adjusted my blouse to make sure it covered my bottom, and we made our way towards Fourth Street parking.
“I don’t feel that God wants me to leave right now.” She muttered. I could see how deeply troubled it all made her. The lines in her brow were giving me a good idea of how angry and hurt she must have been feeling.
“So what are going to do, then? Stay there, and be miserable? Who can serve God in misery?” I asked her. Now, I was getting upset.
“I’ll be ok” she said, noticing my annoyance. “I’m gonna go back to the office, and finish my work. Then, I’m going to go home. I’ll call you a bit later, okay?”
“You sure? ‘Cause I can totally blow off the rest of the day, and talk to you.”
We both giggled a bit, hugged, and went about our own ways. I watched intently as she got into her black SUV, and pulled out of the parking area. She didn’t need to know how hurt I was for her, so I smiled, and waved until I felt she could no longer see me from her vehicle. I got into my junker, put the key into the ignition, and began to pray for my best friend.