One more cup of coffee for courage, then I needed to leave to do something I was dreading.

My granddaughter set a steaming cup in front of me and patted my shoulder encouragingly.

Julie’s little coffee shop had managed to stay afloat in difficult times, largely due to the fact that she was well-known county-wide for being a raging germaphobe who practiced excellent hygienic cleansing long before it became the recommendation world-wide. Adding a social distancing factor to her service barely required any changes to her shop. Removing two tables had instantly put the others six feet apart.

I waited until she had backed up, and then removed my mask to sip my latte. “Mmm. You’re the best, Julie.”

She smiled at me–with her eyes. I’ve been amazed by that, you know. I have known so many people over the years who smiled only with their mouths, and I brushed it off–until lately. The ability to show a genuine smile with your eyes is a gift in these times, and I find myself grateful each time I am on the receiving end of one.

“Did they tell you how long it would take?” Julie asked.

“I should have an answer today,” I replied. I resisted the urge to blow on my coffee and took a careful sip. “I go through this every time.”

“Try not to worry,” Julie advised, and I giggled. We both knew better; we were both worried.

You go in. A few days later you get the letter: Please come back for a follow up. Everything inside you goes tense and nothing can ease that tension until you sidle up to the machine and let them re-run their tests and do a couple more.

I finished my coffee and re-masked. I mimed blowing a kiss and air-hugged Julie. Then I left the shop and headed back to the Women’s Center to repeat my mammogram.

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