Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday Night Take-Out

It is 7:30 on a Saturday night. I walk to the local Asian restaurant wearing bedroom slippers and no makeup. I used to order take-out for two so that the host wouldn't know I was alone.

Nowadays, I don't care what the host thinks. Besides, he will probably gobble down his dinner while hunched over a sink stacked with half empty rice bowls and greasy woks.

As I reach for the front door, a couple exits. I recognize them immediately. Our daughters went to school together. Her name is Barbara and I never knew her tall, attentive, wildly successful, handsome husband's name.

They don't recognize me immediately. She calls me Nancy.
"No," I say, "it's Shannon."

I think about telling them that Nancy is the name of my daughter's, father's, first wife, and coincidentally, his girlfriend, but quickly realize how ridiculous the truth sounds.

I politely ask how they are doing and how their children are doing. I even ask how their dog, Buddy the beagle, is doing. Everyone is doing well. Very, very well.

I seem to remember everything about this happy family. Mainly, I remember that Barbara was the only mothers from my daughter's class who attended my son's funeral.

It is their turn to ask how I am doing but they say nothing. They just stand there smiling and I wonder if they are afraid to ask.

I think about blurting out, "I've had cancer, all sorts of horrible cancer. And I'm divorced, again."

Instead, I tell them how proud I am of my daughter. How happy she is and how, at this very moment, she is in Colorado with the man she loves, volunteering at a camp for autistic children.

I stop short of saying, "Last Saturday we had dinner together. I wasn't alone, like I am now."

"Name please?" asks the host.
"Shannon," I tell him.
He hands me a small, brown paper bag marked, SHAMOO. I think about telling him that my name is not Shamoo. Instead, I decide that the next time I order take-out I will say my name is Nancy.

I come home with my take-out for one and find a neighbor's party in full swing. She recently moved into the condo directly below me. She seems like a lovely woman. She keeps to herself. She is quiet, except for tonight.

My plan was to eat my sushi-for-one beside a roaring fire while listening to jazz trumpeter, Theo Crocker. But all I can hear is their gayety so I eat my sushi over the sink, with the water running to drown the sound of their laughter.

It is 9:00 by the time I crawl into bed with a cup of green tea, my knitting, and an audiobook.

In my stretch of singleness between marriage number 2 and 3, I would line up Saturday night dates  by Wednesday. I had a collection of suiters to choose from. It didn't really matter what I thought of them as long as they were wild about me. My self-worth was measured by male approval.

I remind myself that I am here, alone in my bed, by choice. I would have preferred to stay married to a man I loved if I could have controlled his actions. And I would have preferred to avoided multiple cancer diagnoses, and treatments, and scars and ongoing healing, if I had control over my genetics.

But I do have control over how I respond to life's disappointments. I have responded with courage and conviction. This is how I now measure my self-worth.

I awake Sunday morning feeling refreshed. After a leisurely walk in the park with the dogs, I retreat to the loft with a large mug of french pressed coffee. I savor my solitude. And I write.

xo, MonkeyME

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” 

― John O'DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom


  1. Shannon, as always, your writing is AMAZING! You are my hero (I don't like the word "shero")'re my hero in everything you do. Your writing talent, your courage in living with, and through, all the *%#+ that life has thrown at you. AND, I'm happy that you're FOR yourself....not BY yourself. Writing, and enjoying the music you like and the foods you like, etc. One of these days, I'll come and visit you and read aloud from my memoir to you!...Since I haven't made an audio version yet! Maybe I can do one on my laptop, though, onto a CD? I'm not techie enough to know if that's possible...Do you know??

    1. thank you Becky .... you always know what to say :) your book is at my bedside. I read a few pages at a time. My dear, freakishly tall friends book is there too. I wish I could concentrate on the words. I can't concentrate to write a lot of words either. So glad I discovered audio books. We really can meet halfway you know! and I bet if I googled it I could find a format to record speech and send. xoxo

  2. That was beautiful Shannon... Thank you for sharing. I am in the midst of a divorce myself after 16 years of marriage, and I find many Saturdays nights alone as well... By choice, like you... I have many friends and what I like to call pseudo suiters... But, sometimes its better to be alone.

    My dad is also in treatment for Stage 4 liver cancer. Perfect timing life has... I do have my health and I have my son (7 years old), and while I think most of the time we are just programmed to believe things will be ok for the purpose of instinctual survival, there is a small part of me that still believes hope is not an illusion.. That little part of me comes out when I write.

    I see hope through your writing as well.


    ~ shadowfire ~

    1. Hello Shadowfire, I tried to reach out to you from your icon but its not connected to anything. Thank you for reading and following and I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad and your divorce. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, between the diagnoses and my double mastectomy my father died and then my marriage fell apart. I was a mess. sending you (((((strength and kindness)))))

    2. Hi Shannon. Yes, I see there is a link issue with my icon, but I am not sure why... I am very new to the blogosphere world (just a couple of months) so still getting the hang of things.

      My name is Stella. ;) Here is a link to my page:

      I really enjoy your entries. Very inspiring with a touch of comedy. Look forward to reading them.

      ~ shadowfire ~

  3. You are so eloquent and poignant. I should talk with you more often :-)
    I love you!

    1. xoxoxoTHANK YOU SILVER GUYxoxoxo I love you too! and I miss you :(

  4. You are so right to be proud of living alone and learning to enjoy your own company and trust in your own self-worth. I hear the pain but also the humor and hope and the moving forward. Funny. My name is Nancy and I sometimes think about giving a more exotic name when ordering. Maybe I'll try Shannon!

    1. :)))))) that made me smile!!! And I bet you won't be able to say it without smiling.

  5. Next time you order take-out, just call yourself Shamoo and be done with it! Then the name they write on your order will probably be Shannon, LOL!

    1. I had to spell it too. Once, before that it was Shanoon. That made some sense to me. But Shamoo.... well, thats just silly :)

  6. Hi Shampoo (oops, I meant Shamoo; errrr... Shannon)!

    I have missed you - distracted by my work, I have not checked my email notifications that you have posted! Bad friend, I am.

    Once again, I enjoy your prose and your meanders. Someday I hope our paths cross in the physical world.

    Namaste, Ed


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison