Crisp white pants and a warm khaki top complimented her tanned complexion. Dark hair lay in tidy layers around her face, showcasing high cheek bones and spring kissed lips. She looked at her watch a few times, then started texting. Perhaps she was waiting for a date? The texting subsided as the waitress brought menus, asked what she would like to drink, complimented her beautiful necklace.
“Water is fine.”
This radiant stranger surfed the web on her phone and nodded a few times in agreement, acknowledging the sounds around her.
Lunch was served, crisp greens speckled with cherry tomatoes, drizzled in balsamic dressing, accompanied by a fancy lady-like sandwich. The phone was tucked inside a sleek clutch. She ate in silence, staring mindlessly at the people passing outside the big sunny windows. Occasionally she would check her watch, or survey the room again like she was in search of someone she knew.
I wasn’t trying to eaves drop, or spy on this elegant creature beside me today. But I couldn’t help but be drawn to the chair across the table. A small boy of about 4 wiggled about, trying to tell mommy about his day in preschool. He ended most of his sentences with, “Did you hear that? Did you hear what I said, Mom?”
A nod of acknowledgment was all that he received.
By the time the meal was served he had given up, stopped trying to connect with his table-mate, re-focused his energy on the glass of water in front of him.
Wads of torn paper napkins floated to the top of his tall slender glass.
Piles of shredded bread lay over the table.
As I signed our bill, and pushed in our chairs, I couldn’t help but notice this lonely young man, with his bright blue eyes and cherub cheeks, hair like nutmeg, squeezing wet napkins over the tiled floor. He patiently watched the water ooze down his arm, drip, drip, dripping onto the floor, echoing in the silence between him and his mother.
She still didn’t notice him.
I wanted to grab her, shake her silly and tell her to wake up and see her son. Was this the message she wanted to send him? That he was invisible? I’m not sure why she even bothered to take him out to lunch. It would have been better to have just gotten her lunch to go, plop him in front of the T.V. at home, and heat up a bowl of Spaghetti O’s. This season of his life will be over quickly. He will not want to sit on a date with mom, but take out a pretty girl instead. His friends will take precedence over family time and he will no longer want to sit in her lap to snuggle and give kisses. He will be off to college, getting his first job, married and then have children of his own.
She will wake up one day and wish with all her heart that she had one more afternoon to sit with her son, and ask him about his day in preschool.