There’s a little girl playing in a puddle. I’m sitting with her dad at a picnic table nearby. We are outside my favorite coffee shop in the world, Coastal Roasters, in Tiverton, Rhode Island. All I can see is ocean and lobster pots stacked high.
And a grown man weeping. A man and a girl who I have never met before.
His wife and the mother of his daughter fell ill on Easter Day. Within 48 hours, she was dead of a rogue infection in her lungs—a young and vigorous woman and artist gone.
The story is painful for him to tell. His daughter wanders back every once in a while for a bite of bagel, smearing cream cheese on her lips.
It’s the kind of human suffering for which there is no answer, only witness.
I watch this man closely, the way he talks to his daughter with tenderness, and the way he forces himself to tell me his story. From his first falling in love to the final call from the doctors that she was suddenly gone.
Quivering hands, nervous laughter, tears.
I watch as he straps his daughter into the car seat. And drives away.
—Photo Hamed Saber/Flickr