The day was cold, but the coffee was hot. I was waiting, as I did every year, for him to show. As I watched young lovers walking along the Seine, I could remember a time when I too enjoyed such company.
We had met at this very cafe. It had been raining and everyone was scrambling about, trying to stay dry. There was a single table left, and we'd both reached it at the same time. Neither of us spoke French, though after many visits, we became fluent. His eyes were bright, and his lips were fixed in a permanent smile. We shared not a table that day, but a connection so deep, neither of us quite understood it. We met there everyday for a meal or just coffee, until the day we both had to leave. It had been blissful, but it was over. We had to return to reality. We didn't keep in touch through the year, but we again, a year to the day of that first meeting, at that same cafe. And so that same scenario played out every year, at the same time, at the same place. Our cafe.
It was on our fourth meeting that he announced he was getting married. She came from a wealthy family, and he did love her so. Despite his love though, we continued to meet, year after year, at our cafe. Each year, for a week only, we could forget our lives and pretend we were the only two people alive. We met even after I married, even after we'd both had children, and then after we'd had grandchildren. For one week only we could be, just the two of us. We had an understanding – names only, no addresses, no phone numbers, no contact outside our week spent at the cafe along the Seine. I remember the walks we took, all over Paris. We walked until our feet ached, and then we'd sit and watch the world go by.
When I was 75, my beloved husband died. I buried him the week before I left for Paris, and only he could console me. We sat at our cafe and he comforted me as I mourned. He never said a word, just held my hand and let me cry. I did the same for him a year later, when his wife died.
I am now 83. I have been coming to our cafe since I was 22. For the last five years, I've made this trip alone. He died in his sleep, in our bed, next to our cafe. He was buried in the cemetery down the road, and I visit him everyday. For sixty-one years I've made this journey, sat at this cafe and walked the streets of Paris. My coffee is cold now, and so too am I. No longer will I walk the streets of Paris. No longer will I stroll along the Seine. No longer will I sit at our cafe, waiting for him to show. He is here now, and together we shall live for eternity.