There’s an older lady who likes to say hi to Haku: maybe in her 60’s, heavy set, dyed yellow hair, craggy face, missing front teeth, thick German accent/dialect so I often find her difficult to understand. She lives down the street from us. I’ll make a point to wave up at her if she’s out on her balcony when we’re walking by her building, or we’ll stop to chat a bit if our paths cross.
It’s been a little while.
Ran into her on our walk today. She spotted Haku before he noticed her, so she was already stopped and grinning when he looked up to see her waiting for him.
She commented on how big B’s gotten. I mentioned that he was sick in the last few days. She said she’s also been sick, actually, “ich habe Krebs.”
I have cancer.
And as if on cue Haku jumped excitedly onto her, and she scolded him playfully.
“Nein!” I said. “Es tut mir leid …”
She waved me off brusquely. “Ehhh, macht nichts.”
Couldn’t understand much of what she said, but seems recently diagnosed, and maybe she’s going soon for treatment? Or maybe not? Maybe that’s only what I wanted to hear. Then something about “kinderlose”, and a kind of sad smile, “Schlimm, wahr?”
I just kept saying “es tut mir so leid”, unable to find the words auf Deutsch to voice the sudden wash of complicated feelings. But she shrugged it off, ever stoic, smiling.
She touched B sweetly on the wrist, then hugged me, gave me a peck on the cheek, growled affectionately at Haku per her usual send off. Tschüss, she said, and we parted ways.