Karen’s hand seeks mine under the table. Our fingers entwine and we hold on for dear life. So tight do we hold on to one another that the tips of our fingers turn white as parchment.
It’s Friday night and we’re having Shabbos dinner at one of our best friend’s homes. One of the other guests, a fine and sensitive person, has just launched into a long and detailed account of a man who’s searching for an organ. He will die soon if the transplant does not take place. Karen and I remember how we waited fruitlessly for a lung for Ariel. A lung that never materialized.
“I think I’m going to throw up,” Karen whispers to me.
I hold her hand even tighter, as if this is a cure for nausea.
Should I break in, somehow halt the story, perhaps embarrass the story teller? There’s no way he can know what effect he’s having upon us. No, we just have to sit and wait it out.
We are rigid as pilasters in our seats. We pick, pick, pick at our food.
As always, Karen and I are among friends, wonderful generous people, but we are isolated; as it says in the Torah about people who have conracted tzora’as, we are “michutz lamachaneh,” literally: “outside the camp,” forever outside normal human discourse, speaking our own private language for which no dictionary can or should exist.