Sandwiches

We look up at the menu board. The sandwich shop offers a typical selection, and you motion for Jason and I to order first. I step up to the cashier and ask for a tuna salad sandwich.

“Oh good choice, Emmy. I’ll do the same.”

Even something as simple as ordering a sandwich, and you make me feel so smart about it. I remember you often ordering what I ordered at a restaurant, so encouraging of me that you even validated what I ordered by doing the same. It could’ve come across as annoying or patronizing or hyper-adoring, but it didn’t, at least to me.

Or maybe I’m just seeing you through especially rose-colored glasses and we just had similar tastes in sandwiches.

“I’d like the tuna salad sandwich. Does the whole wheat bread it comes on have actual whole seeds and grains in it?”

The cashier seems confused and a little annoyed. Why is this woman so picky? You repeat your question with a less-than-patient tone. Finally she says that no, it doesn’t, but in that condescending tone of someone who thinks you’re being ridiculous.

I want to shake her. Can’t she tell that you’re sick? That your tastebuds are wonky and your appetite is almost gone and the weird texture of a seedy bread will send it away completely? And that you need to get down whatever food you can to give you some strength to keep fighting this terrible, weird, out-of-nowhere cancer? And that this is the last sandwich we’ll share together and so help me God, she better treat you like a queen for it?

But no, of course she can’t know that. Jason and I are just out-of-town guests and you and Pop-Pop are just regular grandparents living in Seattle and treating us to some sandwiches.

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