"Actually Leon you seem sad." Every skill, every moment as a teacher, coming into her voice and modulating it so that it doesn't sound half as mean, and defensive, and angry, and terrified, as she knows it sounds inside. Leon gets afraid for her. He thanks her for validating his feelings, but they are not his feelings. How could they be? Sadness is a negative, like anger: It has no place in the new life. Cancer hasn't made him sad, it's made him happy. And ever so grateful. He uses her words like a weapon, turning them back on her. Leon clarifies: He's sad, but for Cathy Jamison. Because she is alone.
It's not wrong, he's not wrong, but he's too close to crying and she doesn't want to carry anybody else's shit for them. Leon's not allowed to be sad, or angry, or anything but happy and grateful for the passport. If he will be sad, he will be sad for her. This is exactly the sort of thing Cathy Jamison hates most. The awful weight of pity, the nasty need it always hides.
"Just buck up, Leon. I'm fine, really. No, I'm happy. Just like you." Cathy Jamison has made a truly terrible mistake; she will rectify that mistake and she will bust a move. Away from Leon and Sheila and the rest of them. Mitchell, who has found his voice. Cathy Jamison cannot chillax here; these are not her people. They are their own people, a strange hungry tribe who take the cliché and turn it around on itself: Not being authentic, not really telling the truth so much as a new kind of lie. Nothing here for Cathy Jamison, who only wants the courage to be honest, to be angry. To be just one Cathy Jamison, with no secrets at all.
In the morning Cathy scrambled eggs for her son Adam; she's still in her dressing gown when Leon and Sheila appear at her door. A bowl, a vat, a good six quarts of casserole, plastic-wrapped, reflecting bright smiles. Leon calls her friend; Sheila assures her that nutrition is very important for her "fight." She's Stage IV: They will have noticed her hair. They know what it means. She's not treating it, not in the usual ways, which makes her even more alone.
"How did you people find me?" They laugh. There are three Cathy Jamisons in the Minneapolis phone book this summer. She assures her that she has plenty of food. A good life. She doesn't want charity, that's her crazy brother. She just wants to raise her son properly and leave on a high note.