THE ADVOCATE 693
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
Aur turns down an adjacent hall and into a room with a large window that
looks out onto the foyer. His father, Jean-Marc, stands behind the glass,
opening the curtains. I retreat into a recess in the hallway wall. For some
sudden reason, it feels crucial that I not be seen. When I am sure Aur and
Jean-Marc are facing away from me, I approach the room and position
myself outside the window. The curtains are drawn back, so the column of
fabric blocks me from view. I can see through a gap between the fabric and
Georgine Lestac sits proud and upright in her hospital bed. Her presence
is undeniable. She smiles and looks around the room in her austere, practical
way. Chemotherapy has hardly changed her appearance. She always
kept her silver hair cut short anyhow. But she is thin. Her strong triathlete’s
frame has shrunk. Sickness has aged her. I know she is refusing to suffer. It
embarrasses her. Suffering is beneath her. It’s not how she wants her family
I think of the furrow in Léonie’s brow. I see my own tears glisten on the
pale skin of my mother’s hand as she lay in a bed like Georgine’s.
All at once, I am tired. More tired than I can ever remember being. The
fatigue grows. Its heft crushes down on the numbness I have been feeling
for four months. For years, perhaps. I look one more time through the glass
at my husband’s family. Aur is grinning and chatting with Georgine. They
could be at a business lunch. Jean-Marc is fiddling with his wife’s iPhone
charger, peering over his stylish round spectacles.
I am fixated on the scene. It is a tableau of strangers.
At last, I turn away from the window. My limbs leaden, I go down the
hall, take the elevator to the first floor, walk to the exit and step out into the
Back at Charles de Gaulle a few hours later, I stand beneath another redlit
departures board. My handbag rests against my thigh. It does not burn
anymore. I scan the list of city names. Toronto. I can get home from there.
The flight leaves at 5:00 p.m.
Up one line on the list, Tel Aviv.