We flew into London last night and were grateful that the hotel bar was still open. We wanted a drink and a bite to eat. The flight had been fine, but long. Joe took the luggage upstairs and I ordered drinks and got set up at a table. While the bar was not crowded there were a number of other travellers gathered at different tables. All looking tired.
Beside me was a young man, clearly looking distraught. His friend was at the bar getting a couple pints of Stella. When he returned they dove back into a conversation that had obviously been running for some time. The guy who I had first noticed sitting alone had just been dumped by his girlfriend - that wasn't all the guy she dumped him for was another mate. He was devastated. They talked and the emotions felt were the stuff of opera - classical and soap.
I was reminded of a while back doing an abuse prevention workshop for people with disabilities. When we were talking about emotions one man with Down Syndrome got up and pointed at another guy in the group. He talked about being angry and sad. About his former friend running off with his girlfriend. She, the woman in dispute was sitting in the front row, and like most women in this situation looked both troubled and pleased that these two men wanted her.
Even though I have worked in the area of sexuality and disability for years, I have to admit that I needed to stop myself from thinking that this was cute. If it was tragic to be betrayed, to lose love for the guy in the bar - it was tragic for this man with Down Syndrome to be going through the same thing. His heart was broken. Truly broken.
Real lives have led to real joy but it's also led to real pain. Pain that we must take seriously. Pain that's understood. Pain that's comforted.
I wonder if that young man with Down Syndrome had a friend who would sit and let him cry into his beer like the guy beside me. I wonder if he would be taken seriously as he spoke of his past girlfriend and his former friend.
I hope so.