I wrote “let this be the positive energy you need” on a small piece of paper when she got up to go to the restroom on the train and put it on her computer’s keyboard when no one was looking. She was just across from me in the full dining cart and got a call from who I assumed was her nephew or little brother by the way she talked to him like teachers talk to their favorites students, never crossing the line into a friendship. It was a call about her father. He’s in a hospital. He’s no longer speaking. “How do the doctors he’s in pain if he can’t talk,” she asks. She doesn’t want to speak to him. Her hands are trembling and she’s trying not to be so loud, but the man on the other end can’t hear her well because of the rumbling of the train wheels and the loud laughter of the woman waiting on a Panini from the Café Car woman.
“Hey dad. I love you and I’m praying for you. I’m going to Charlottesville for a few days.” She speaks anyway, probably wondering if this will be the last time. She said bye and the way it came out sounded like her last possible word before the tears. She ran to the restroom to let it out.