Dinner was over. Ruby was a bit restless, Sadie was still in the washroom with her mother. We went outside and Ruby crawled up in my lap and we sped along Dalhousie Street going for a ride. It had rained, a wicked hard rain, earlier and the streets had that wonderful, fresh, just washed smell. We got to the corner, turned around and headed back. Ruby was chatting with me, she's a talker, and laughing as we veered around the broken concrete on the sidewalk.
I really like these moment of sheer abandon, doing something that means nothing at all. Ruby loves them too. Sadie is also a new convert to the joys of having a friend in a wheelchair. At times I look like a float with one on my lap the other riding on the back of the chair. It's wonderful fun these trips. Wonderful, wonderful fun. I know I'm lucky. I know it. But something happened that shook me, to the core, shook me.
As we were riding back, I noticed a man, sitting in the shade of the building on a small step. He had a frayed Tim's cup beside him with the word 'Coins' pencilled on the inside white of the cup. He was watching us. Not staring at us, watching us, there is a mighty difference between those two things. As I approached, he waved to Ruby who didn't notice him as she had caught sight of her parents and Joe having come out of the restaurant. I didn't want him to feel ignored, and I knew that wasn't Ruby's intent, so I nodded acknowledgement of his greeting.
As I drove by, he spoke.
What he said was maybe the most profoundly sad thing I've ever heard.
"I was happy once too," he said.