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Being Present For A Stranger . . .

As I was preparing for a holiday road trip, I stopped by the local Farmers’ Market. While I was at the cheese counter, a woman a few years older than me turned with a smile and complimented my Tie-Dyed shirt.
I was delighted by her genuine joy, and remarked, “Many people don’t really appreciate it for the gifts it is!”

That was the last thing I said for what seemed to be both an hour and a heartbeat of time. We stood there, at the cheese counter, while she told me that her son had made these shirts when he was in second grade and she wished she had kept them.

She then shared that she had lost her son the week before, to cancer. She said, “I had the honor of caring for him during that period.” It was 9 months from his diagnosis to when he left his body.
She spoke of her waves of grief . . . of just returning home from having buried him in North Carolina . . . of his moving back to Atlanta from New York (where he had acted and owned a business) . . . how he was a vegan for many years who still missed a good Reuben sandwich. Then she showed me the announcement from her son’s memorial service.

It seemed that we were truly alone in sharing her story. I was unaware of the flurry of activity around us. She talked for as long as she needed to. Her openness made it comfortable for me to stay present, and in the “heart space above the head,” the space of detached love that Ma teaches about.

I asked her if I could give her a hug. Following that embrace, we both thanked each other, and soon left the cheese counter. (She was making Reuben sandwiches in her son’s memory for dinner that evening.)
This visit will always remain one of the most profound of my life. The connection, heart to heart, was so remarkably strong !

We said our good-byes without knowing each other’s names.

B.K. Atlanta, GA

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