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2014-12-03 - 10:20 p.m.

She stood there at the entrance to the new church building looking vacantly through me
I wanted to say hello to this remarkable lady
The one whom I so appreciate for her kindness
For her connection to others, to me
In our community

She was the one who years ago saw my need
and paid the tuition of my youngest which meant
I did not have to pull her out of preschool.
She showed me the love and warmth of concern
when I was in a place feeling adrift, unanchored.

She said it was a small thing for her
as money was in abundance,
but it was a huge gift of compassion to me and my littlest one
and she acted like we were a gift to her son who valued his friendship with my daughter.

Her son smiled with such joy
In the class picture that year.

I stood at our church,
wondering that I never saw them there before
paused to say hello
hoping to connect.

Yet she looked through me
beyond me
without recognition,
encircled by a group
tightly surrounding her such that I could not break in
I thought like a movie star with her poise and beauty
an elegance that must draw others.

When I saw her at the deli counter
I told her I was delighted to see
her son who has grown so much
and remains such a joy.

She had responded with surprise
Yes he is,
as if the reminder was of something she had somehow forgotten;
Responding as if awoken from a dream.

She seemed the ghost of herself
Something missing
The body walking through the world
Not fully present

Her spirit and spark of life
Itself muted

My co worker hugged her
And echoed what I was thinking I am worried about you. Are you OK?"

The warmth of that hug
the connection she was able to achieve
when I could not
gave me relief.

My co-worker told me later
Why she worried.

I learned
her older child, her daughter had died just a few months ago.
Her daughter who was so much like my own
who battled her depression
and won.

Her daughter lost her battle
and I have no idea how to reach out now
in her time of loss
her time of need to be awoken from her very real nightmare
other than to try to capture the moment of concern
try to connect and offer the little I can
the empathy
although thankfully void of the understanding
as I have no idea what it would feel like to have lost my daughter
and I can only empathize with the horror of the fear of such loss
as when mine was relieved
her darkest fears came to fruition.

A horror I know would unhinge me
even more than that moment
when I was a shadow of my former self
and walked like a ghost in my town
feeling both empty and yet somehow transparent
like everyone could both see through me yet not see me at all

Present and yet invisible in my seemingly singular pain
of the loss of my family as I had known it
the wretched violence of ones hand that caused its destruction
including grieving for the children I then did not see each day

Yet I survived that and rebuilt and thawed my frozen heart
with the help of outstretched hands
from the few who did see me
one being hers
that reminded me to be fully present to the children here with me each day
the little girl who needed me

I want to let her know I see her pain
and while I can never understand it fully
I see too her beauty, the woman she has been,
her strength, her love and her capacity to reach others
when no one else was even looking
and somehow wish I could stretch out my hand

if only to hold hers for a moment
to acknowledge
I see the dignity and grace with which she carries herself
as well as the pain,
and yet there is still joy and wonder at her simple statement that rises through it
Yes he is

This is my prayer
For the mother

For the daughter

And evermore will be
In this life and the next

Glory be to the Mother,
And to the Daughter,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now,
And ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.

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