Broken hearts like broken legs take time to heal]

CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: ARMIST

Broken hearts like broken legs take time to heal]

sc: The other day I took Nemo out for lunch. Mexican. It just so happened that Pau Hana and his friend Nean Derthal were sitting in the booth across the aisle.

Nemo and I ordered, then talked back and forth a bit with Pau and Nean about baseball. (I told them I thought the Pirates were going all the way this season.) Nemo said he needed to go wash his hands and excused himself.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Pau whispered loudly to me, “How’s he doing?”

“This is the first time he’d been anyplace,” I said.

Nean grunted. “It’s already been over a week, ain’t it?” he asked.

(By the way, you may remember Nean. He was quite a football player in college. He even got to try out for the Saints later. He’s a tobacco salesmen now.)

“Wow,” said Pau. “It seems like it was only yesterday we was all at the funer-“

“Shu-u-sh,” I said, seeing Nemo was already coming back. He was wiping his hands on the front of his shirt.

“They were out of paper towels,” he said, slipping into the booth again.

The waiter arrived with our food. I was doing the taco salad and Nemo went for the enchiladas.

“Hey, Nemo,” said Pau with a big smile. “Nean and I going fishing this afternoon. You wanna come?”

Nemo was staring down at the food. He picked up his fork, and I wondered when he’d last eaten a full meal. “Naw,” he said. “Thanks anyways.”

“Now listen, man,” said Nean to him. “You can’t stay cooped up in your place all the time. You need to get out into the sunshine. I mean, after all, life goes on.”

Pau gave Nean a hard look, obviously telling his buddy to shut up.

Nemo laid his fork down, and picked up his glass of water. He didn’t reply. His eyes were still staring at the pile of enchiladas.

“You want to try some of this?” I asked him. “It’s delicious.”

He shook his head.

Pau and Nean rose from their seats. Pau had the check in his hand. “We’ll see y’all later,” he said, then, to Nemo, “Call me if you change your mind about fishing. Okay?”

Nemo nodded. Then, they left.

I reached down to the side of my seat and picked up the small package and laid it on the table. “I got this for you down at the bookstore,” I said.

“What?”

I shrugged one shoulder. “It’s just a little book I thought you might like to have.”

“Thanks,” he said, “but I can’t seem to read right now.”

“Maybe later. But I think you’ll like it. It’s called ‘Tracks of a Fellow Struggler.’ The man who wrote it lost a child. That’s what it’s about.”

Nemo looked up at me. His eyes seemed very sad. “You know something?” he asked. I saw a faint quiver in his lip. “I can’t even pray. You know that? I can’t even pray.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “God understands. It takes some time. In fact this guy …” I paused and tapped on the book. “This guy says a broken heart is kinda like a broken leg. It doesn’t stand for much touching right at first.”

He shook his head slowly. “I just don’t understand it. Why does God let stuff like this happen? Why didn’t he do something for Geno?”

“I don’t know. It’s like the man said: right now we see darkly, but one day-“

He interrupted. “I really don’t want to talk about God right now. To tell you the truth, I’m not real happy with him.”

“That’s okay. He understands that, too.”

Nemo’s eyes widened. “You sure?”

I nodded. “Absolutely.”

He didn’t say anything for a long time, just took his fork and picked at his food. Finally, he looked up at me and said, “I guess maybe he does understand some. After all, he lost someone he loved, too, didn’t he?”

I smiled. “Yeah,” I answered. “I guess you could put it like that.”

John Armistead is Daily Journal religion editor.

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