I wrote the following nearly a year ago. Why is it important to me? It’s important because I remember that day as the day which led me to start my blog. I guess I feel like it takes me full circle. I will just say that it was the kind of day that makes you remember the date. I never understood why I noticed this very brief observation of these two people, and then went on to write about it. I wasn’t in the habit of writing about my observations. For some reason, it felt important. The idea of having a blog was something that drifted in and out of my thoughts for years, but I didn’t think I would ever get around to doing it.
For me that day was the first of a number of events that transformed into a my own little butterfly effect. This day happened, and something else happened, another this and that, an email, a reaction, and a moment when I knew I had to find the courage to start my blog. I suppose starting a blog doesn’t sound like a courageous thing to do. But it felt like it to me. I know that if I removed any one of those sequential events, my blog most likely wouldn’t have happened. It makes you wonder how much of life is luck. Or accidental. Maybe accidental is a better word.
I’ve looked at this piece many times and considered editing it every time. And I never do. It could use some literary flourish. The beginning should be better. The ending simply ends, as if it needs a conclusion. But I never change it. It’s the way I saw this simple moment, it represents the way I reacted, and something prevents me from changing it.
So, again, this was almost a year ago.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Last week I got lab work at a local medical complex in advance of a check-up. It is a big multi-building complex, housing some ordinary medical offices, but also a number of large centers for treating serious illnesses.
Walking into the building, I saw a couple ahead of me. A tall, slender, neatly dressed woman with white hair, light-colored button-down shirt tucked into khaki slacks. Rather elegant and graceful. And with her a younger fellow, maybe 40ish, brown hair, I would guess her son.
Nothing remarkable. They weren’t chatting, but they looked as we often do before medical appointments…a little serious and a little nervous. I went up the elevator to take care of things, and didn’t notice where they moved on to.
It was sunny, hot, sticky that day, and the elevators in the parking garage were not working, so the medical facilities provided large golf cart type shuttle service back and forth to the cars/buildings. As I was leaving my building through the sliding doors, a little preoccupied with my own problems, I looked up and saw across the road the same couple I had seen earlier, now outside in front of the garage. I assumed they were waiting for a shuttle to take them to their car.
The woman was sitting on a concrete wall, just right of the garage entrance. Her legs were together, but uncrossed and dangling, her shoulders slumped over dramatically, almost to her waist. Her back was rounded, and her head hanging and resting face-down on the palms of her hands. The son was standing a few feet from her, looking away in the direction of the road, appearing to me as if he felt a little embarrassed and a little helpless.
Maybe she had just received treatment and felt weak. Or maybe she was in some pain. Maybe she was thinking about her situation, what had just transpired at her appointment. I can’t know, but it looked to me like a woman overwhelmed by the burdens she was facing. Whatever it was, she looked so sad and discouraged.
I saw from the look on her son’s face that he was hurting too and maybe trying to think of what he should do.
It’s part of life, I know. But it broke my heart.
I looked away from them and avoided walking near them as I approached the garage entrance.
I can’t forget, though, the image of the two of them, waiting there…by themselves…so vulnerable and yet so public, trying to hold it together despite the crushing weight of their problems.