And then, as if he didn’t hear me—though I know he did, “This is for him. It is for his Camino.”
The man delicately placed the one-decade rosary in my hand and closed my fingers around its cross.
"Help me clean up the table.” He changed the subject, closing the door on my protestations. I tucked the rosary safely in my pocket.
At this point, I drunk-texted my husband: “I have a rosary for you from an awesome Polish man who’s walked 12 Caminos.” He was used to getting texts like this by now. He’d often lovingly reply with, “This is one of those things that makes a lot of sense there, but nowhere else, right?"
As we cleared the table, stacking the orujo glasses and rinsing off the plates from treats throughout the night, curfew neared, a time we all happily obliged. The next morning’s 15-miles walk often kicked off an hour before sunrise.
“So where are you heading tomorrow? Will we see you there?” I asked, passing him a plate.
He shook off the question, “I do not plan. I walk until—whoop!” Yet again, he brushed his hand to the sky, looking up to the heavens. At this, Christina finally paused, plate-in-hand, and asked what we’d been wondering from the beginning of the night.
“What do you mean by that?” she said with a polite laugh.
“I have blood cancer. They say two years, and then—whoop!” His hand and eyes flew to the sky.
I braced myself on the dining room table as I took a minute to comprehend his confession. Two hours prior, I didn’t even know this man. A bottle of liqueur, a shared meal, and deep discussion about God later, and he was my family. His generous gifts began to make more sense—he was giving up all his belongings.
Christina stumbled on, “Are you having treatment—I’m so sorry. Is there anything they can do?”
“Nope! I walk—I walk for two years until it is my time. I’m raising money back home so this doesn’t happen to the children.” He moved with urgency toward the dishes, dismissing the topic