No doubt about it, there were breadcrumbs on my dinner companion’s chin. As we discussed the unusually mild late fall evening that made it possible for us to sit under an open sky in the garden of a New York City restaurant, I hoped the crumbs would dislodge themselves. But they didn’t. So although we had only just met, I mentioned the crumbs in the nicest way possible. Given that my dinner companion was the reason that two dozen of us had gathered together to break bread, I thought she would want to know sooner rather than later about the food on her face.
Her two attempts to discreetly wipe away the errant crumbs with her fingers failed to do the job, so I volunteered and used my napkin. “It’s the neuropathy,” she explained. “I can’t always feel things with my fingertips.”
Elizabeth Edwards mentioned her neuropathy in the same offhand way that my friend Suzy, who also suffered from stage IV breast cancer, would have referred to it. It was the same way that my friends who had AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s talked about the side effects of the various toxic AIDS treatments then used to suppress the destructiveness of the disease. It was just a fact of life.