She reminds me of my mother, slowly lifting her leg up the step, unsteady with her cane, as I hold the door open and offer my other arm to help keep her balance. She smiles warmly, her whole face lighting up, and thanks me for my kindness.
I’m not being kind, I’m being human, I think, but I smile back and tell her it’s my pleasure. I’m you in several decades, I think. Decades that will come sooner than I want, if I live that long.
She waits for her husband, a man who shuffles along with his walker, his gait slower as he pulls his unwilling body along, she, with the patience of one long used to this, keeps the door open for him after telling me not to wait.
Inside the office, she sees an acquaintance. The woman rises to hug her and tell her how sorry she is for her loss of her brother. The old woman hugs her tighter, thanks her, then cries, telling the younger woman that she’s the only one left now. The younger woman tears up and kisses the older woman’s cheek, and tears well up in my eyes too.
I wish I knew something comforting to say. ‘You’ll be reunited with your loved ones one day’, I think, but the words feel hollow and trite as I think them.
This life of sorrow weighs us down. We’re challenged to the end, and I’m not sure there’s anything after this to make it all worthwhile. I know the experience itself is valuable, but it’s ephemeral, unless we retain consciousness after we leave this world.
I’ve heard that life’s only meaning is what we bring to it, the kindness and care that we show others, and how much suffering we can alleviate while we’re here. Maybe suffering is spiritual honor, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in it. It just hurts. And worse, after a life of enduring, our bodies betray us by breaking down, adding insult to injury, regardless of any wisdom gained through experience and the mere passage of time.
But there is joy, and beauty, and laughter, and pain-free living too.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.