"Marion's Epiphany"


My husband, Prince Manfred ‘Manny’ Susswig of Bavaria was late. I had already occupied my usual season spot in Seat One, Row Nine, Section One-Hundred Seven inside Madison Square Garden to watch our Knicks battle the Indiana Pacers that late winter, Tuesday night last year. I held a half-full beer in one hand and a nibbled sausage and pepper hero in the other when a tap pelted my left shoulder. I whirled around. Manny had arrived. As home-side forward Steve Novak drained a three, we shared a quick lip peck. I settled back into my seat. Many remained upright and stared.

“What’s wrong?” I wondered, now convinced a serious revelation was soon to be made. “Been texting for the last half-hour.”

“Was speaking to your mother,” he said, as I handed him a sandwich and a large, plastic cup of Amstel Light. “Better take this outside.”

We climbed up seven steps and shuffled towards a concession area.

“Is it Dad?” I asked as Knicks Center Tyson Chandler slammed the ball through the hoop, causing a thunderous cheer.

“Your father’s fine,” he said. “Esther isn’t.”

“Who cares?” I asked. “Know I hate hearing that name, let alone thinking about her.”

Many clutched my left hand.

“She suffered a stroke and isn’t expected to live more than a few days,” he said. “Your parents are flying in from Brussels tomorrow.”

“Give Mom credit,” I said. “Knew better than to call me. Let’s go. We’ll see Melo score forty another time.”

We motioned towards an escalator and scurried onto midtown’s pavement.

“I’m driving,” I declared.

We hoofed several blocks to a Quik Park garage on Thirty-Second. A twenty-something, Latino-appearing attendant with a killer tan retrieved our black Mercedes. Manny paid the lad and we hopped in. Two seconds after fastening our belts, I took it out on the accelerator, driving “Code Three” en route to our apartment on East Seventy-Second.

After tossing and turning until dawn, I surrendered to insomnia and checked email. Included among the twelve messages I had not yet seen was an already viewed blast communication from Mom informing recipients Esther died just after midnight. Services were scheduled for Friday, March 8, 2012, at Temple Abraham in Midtown, followed by burial at a Brighton Beach cemetery. Manny emerged from the bathroom and minced forward.

“You saw?” he inquired.

“Think I should go?” I snapped more than asked.

“You’re expected to.”

I leaped forward and paced.

“It’s so simple to you.”

“Yes, it is.”

Manny slogged towards the kitchen. I huffed behind and snatched a filter and dumped Maxwell House coffee to its brim and loaded the item into a Hamilton Beach Two-Way Brewer.

“Things happened,” I shouted.

“I don’t care,” he said. “You do what’s appropriate.”

“Can’t discuss this with you,” I said. “That’s why I’ve never tried.”

After storming back into our bedroom, I slammed the door and flung a pillow against a king-sized bed’s headboard. Seconds following Manny’s departure, I texted my oldest sister Tiffany, who freed her lunch hour for us to speak. At noon, I arrived at the Chase bank branch on Eighth Avenue and occupied a leather chair inside her private office.

“Gather you heard?” I asked.

“Mom called all of us this morning,” she said.

“You going?” I asked.

She moseyed towards a Poland Springs cooler and poured a packet of Lipton’s iced-tea mix into a paper cup.