Today there was a moment
that surprised me
I was in a new doctor's office
and waiting for my name to be called
an elderly woman sat two chairs over
and started to talk
elderly woman: have you been here before? this is my first time
me: (I don't feel like chatting....) yes, my first time
elderly woman: I think it feels nice in here
me: mmmm ( remember I don't feel like chatting)
elderly woman: I think the staff here are very pleasant
me: hmmm hmmm
elderly woman: I'm learning to live alone
I soak in her words.....'I'm learning to live alone'
I have a moment inside of me where I transition from....'please stop talking to me' to - 'Cathy, wake up.....be awake, be aware'..... and I feel a shiver go through my body -
I turn and gaze into this face beside me......
me: what happened?
elderly woman: my husband died 2 years ago. We were married 52 years. I'm alone now.
me: Did you have any children?
elderly woman - pain shooting across her face: yes, I had five sons. They all died.
elderly woman: yes, 2 died in car accidents, one died in a boating accident and 2 died of muscular dystrophy.
elderly woman - with a loving look in her face: are you married?
me: I'm alone too. I'm learning to live alone for the first time. My marriage has ended.
elderly woman: sometimes things need to end. sometimes it is better.
me: silence.....deeply listening
elderly woman: you know, I could give up on life. I know a woman, she gave up. She couldn't face being alone and so she just sat in her rocking chair every day. Now she is in the psyche ward. I get afraid too, afraid of being old by myself. But I choose to get involved. I'm going to Uganda next week to volunteer! And I volunteer in the community. I've started having 'girls nights' with my friends! Even though I don't understand all of life, I believe in eternity and everything will be OK. I know that God is with me, even when I don't understand all the loss.
As she tells me this, I am gazing into her face. Her eyes become sparkly and bright and she speaks with a 'knowing'. She is radiant with beauty through her wrinkles and white hair.
I reach into my purse.
I take out a 'Love Shines' CD.
me: I'm a musician - I want to share this with you. Thank you for talking to me.
I take her hand.
me: I'm Cathy
elderly woman: I'm Erna
Reception desk: Cathy, time for your appointment.
me: I believe I just had my appointment.