Yesterday I told Albert that I have been worried about him. Most Wednesdays I see him in Chicago on the bridge at Adams between Wacker and Canal at 2:45 PM. But for the past two weeks he has been absent. Last week I was a bit early for my train, so I hung out for a short time and circled both sides of the bridge to be sure he was not resting on the ground. No Albert, however.
I cannot say I was reassured to see him yesterday morning; Albert never looks well. His twisted foot and back have led to an odd gait that over the years has taken a toll on his demeanor. He still smiles, but mostly to please rather than in pleasure. It seemed yesterday that he had some sense of wonder in my worry and my expressions of concern.
It is heartbreaking to know that he cannot count on me.
Less than 30 minutes later, I came face to face with a young woman apparently walking to work. We had both been looking down at the uneven pavement on Washington, just east of State Street, I to avoid broken bones, she to navigate her way with cerebral palsy. When I looked up I saw one of those faces that sticks with you. She could not know that my expression of surprise was about her breathtaking beauty, but I hope she had a clue. Not two yards later I was crying on the street, thoughts of my late husband flooding my awareness, sudden, unbidden.
I hate that perhaps the best we can count on is doing our best, even when it is not enough. Community requires that we depend on one another. But for what specifically, how much, and with what chance for success?