Parting Smile

By Brad Snyder

October 24, 2022

Parting Smile

Dan has lost weight along with most of the feeling on his left side. His wife, Amanda, holds a four-pronged cane. The two of them perform a slow maneuver to get him into his wheelchair in preparation for our lunch. I’m seeing my friend for the first time since his diagnosis, brain cancer at 43, during this visit that the vaccines made possible.

“Are you in pain?” I ask.

A tear runs down Dan’s cheek. I want the question back.

“It’s okay,” Amanda says. “He has a moment like this every day.” She places a hand on Dan’s shoulder, and they look at one another through tender eyes.

“Are you moving forward with having another baby?” she asks.

I consider lying. I know that Dan will not live to meet my second child. But I think about how much he loves being a dad to his son and two daughters. How often he’s encouraged my husband and me to grow our family. How he’s joked that as a gay couple Chris and I don’t have the excuse that we are “too old” to try again.

“Yes,” I say. “We are on our way.”

Dan hears my words, and though his facial muscles resist, he smiles. His lips extend wide enough for a familiar dimple to form. It makes it possible to almost forget.

Within weeks, I join with Dan’s closest friends, all of us his groomsmen not so long ago, as pallbearers. Our ties are pink, Dan’s favorite color. 

Brad Snyder’s recent nonfiction work has appeared in HuffPost Personal, The Gay & Lesbian Review, and Multiplicity Magazine. He is pursuing his MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at Bay Path University. More at

Image by laban05 courtesy of Adobe Stock

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