I shared a ride with a woman today. When I got on the bus she was visibly upset. The driver strapped me down, took my token, confirmed where I was going and then hopped back into the driver's seat. I looked over at my fellow passenger. She was seated in a light green scooter, wads of damp Kleenex were tucked into her purse which was itself tucked into the basket on front. I took a breath, deep down not wanting to do what I was about to do, and asked, "Are you OK?"
She told me that she was facing a decision about her dog. He had been her loyal companion and he was still her best friend. She told me that with the advent of her disability friends pulled away from her and her children sometimes made her feel like a burden. But her dog ... she cried when she said this ... "loved me anyways." She talked about him and told me stories about when he was a young pup and it was easy to understand how this dog had taken residence in her heart.
I told her that I understood how easy it was to bond with an animal. I mentioned my dog Eric and how much I still missed him. That's all I said, she understood that I understood and that was enough. The rest of the trip she mused out loud about the nature of relationships. Why some stay. Why others leave. Why children she carried resented carrying her groceries. She was terrified that, in a bare few days, she would discover real, true, aloneness. Tissue after tissue made it's way into her purse.
Soon we were at her drop off point. She got off, pausing at the door, and said, "I will remember your kindness for a very long time."
All I did was listen.
All I did was understand.
Sometimes that's enough.
That's what you all did for me yesterday.
"I will remember your kindness for a very long time."