8.09.2008

Heart aches

Do you ever have times where the things that you see are so painful and poignant, you ache all over? My girlfriend, Amy, and I were talking about this after she described an awful/beautiful moment in her church the other day. An old man was helping his wife get up to use the restroom in the middle of the service. The woman fell and the man was too frail to help her up. He looked around helplessly and the congregation all stood up at once to help. The minister said simply, "Let's pray."

The humanity makes my heart ache.

There are a some everyday occurrences that hit me hard this week. It could be just killer PMS or it could be that I'm just too damn sensitive. Anywho, my mind keeps flashing back to these three events unbidden...like when I'm drifting off to sleep.

...the middle aged man wearing jeans and a t-shirt kneeling at a gravestone not ten feet from Woodruff Road. He sobs uncontrollably and can't seem to catch his breath. There is a look of pure despair on his face. I sit, next to him (in a way), drinking my Starbucks, listening to Indigo Girls, stuck in endless bumper to bumper traffic. His private grief is so public, that I'm embarrassed. Next to the black asphalt of the road, on one of the hottest days of the summer, this man's loved one's body is buried. And he mourns her while I watch.

...an old woman wearing a Bi-Lo uniform putting her tired toaster oven (which heated her lunches for years) and a round hemorrhoid pillow in an old rusted Taurus. She carries colorful balloons jauntily proclaiming, "Happy Retirement!" and "We'll Miss You!" I remember her as the grumpy lady asking about my desired thickness of luncheon meat (a little thinner, please!). I imagine for her, a retirement out of physical necessity, as she struggles to put the oven in her trunk, while holding back tears. I debate offering to help her. My kids are in the car and my food will defrost. I decide against it.

...the homeless person who held the door open for me at the doctor's office the other day. He proudly says, "A lady shouldn't have to open a door." I smile back at him, thankful that I could help him feel a bit successful. I watch as he shakily fills out his paperwork and then sits down with a sigh. He laughs at something Nicholas does and chats with him in a jovial way, then goes up to the window when his name is called to present his Medicaid card. When he sits back down, the green army bag that holds all of his earthly possessions, tips over and a loud, shattering sound reverberates around the room. He looks in devastation at the brown, paper bag that falls out. The yeasty smell of beer surrounds the room and is unmistakable. In the quiet aftermath, Nicholas asks, "What's that smell, Mama?" I shush him as the man's name is called. His shoulders are stooped very low as he walks to the nurse and he keeps his head down. Nicholas yells, "Bye Mister!" and the man never looks up.

5 comments:

Lila said...

So I'm not the only one who sees these things and holds onto them?! That is such a relief. Sometimes at night before I go to sleep my heart breaks for things I've witnessed, like you described, and I can't do anything but pray that the homeless man's life gets easier, or that the grieving man finds solace, or that the retired deli lady finds comfort and relief in her home, with friends...
You are a sensitive soul, like me, Amy :) Glad I know!

Allyson said...

I always love reading what you write--such great imagery. I'm a super sensitive person too, and I don't think it's a bad thing at all. I just happen to cry a little too much when things touch my heart.

GapGirl said...

Beautiful....

Anonymous said...

i cried. right in the middle of work, i cried.

sis.

Valerie said...

Ah man, why did you have to make me cry?? ok, I'm going to look for something funny on your blog now!! lol