Kiki and I stopped for a quick lunch at the mall after picking up a few necessities and running some errands. Nothing major, nothing overtly sophisticated, just two friends having lunch and gabbing. But then we were joined.
I would say that he was in his late 60's - full of life, filled with life, marked with life. He had a full head of grey hair and a smartly put together casual outfit. I'm assuming that it would have been compliments of his wife, because he struck me as the sort that would have been happy in shorts and rubber boots. How he looked had nothing to do with who he was. He was a smiler and you could tell that it was never something he had to purposely practice because it happened so naturally. His eyes twinkled and made you want to sit beside him at a stiff family functions and swap dirty jokes. I liked him immediately.
He stopped at our table as he was just walking by, and to this exact moment I'm not sure why, other than it was supposed to happen. Kiki and I were laughing and chatting, but nothing terribly deep or intense. He came over and pointed a finger at me, waving it around my nose area and said "You must be from there" naming off the region in which I was fostered and grown. I was surprised, pleasantly, and said Well Yes, I was. He flashed some one liners, straight out of Vaudeville. He laughed and winked and stood close, like he was telling a national scandal. He told us we were beautiful and that we certainly had great personalities. And then he told us that we reminded him of his daughter, who was about our age. She was killed in a car accident five days before Christmas, five years previous. He laughed and kidded for a few minutes more, but you could tell that it was difficult for him to leave. We had, unbeknownst to our ownselves, had touched him in an indelible way.
I've thought about him a lot this week. I thought about how life can really deliver a raw deal to someone who is in love with it. I thought about the possibilities of what could have happened to him. I thought about anger and choices and questioned how in the world we ever make it through some days. I almost gave him a hug when we left, but I didn't. And now that makes me sad because I think he would have really appreciated one. And it would have cost me nothing. But it would have given everything.
Sometimes I do funny things, like just tonight I sat in the tub for an hour, drinking a bottle of wine and pretending I was someone important. I stepped out of the tub and realized that I am someone important. I'm a solid friend. I'm a kind stranger. I'm a good daughter. I'm a hell of a lover. I am satisfied by being in my skin. I can't wait to turn 30. I have a feeling we'll be decent to one another. When I met my nameless friend not-so-many days ago, I was gently reminded as to why I continue to send up prayers of thanksgiving. Eventually all those silly lessons makes more sense, especially when I am priveledged to witness someone dealing with the not-so-silly ones in a way that stills me into awe.
Life is not made up of great sacrifices and duties but of little things: in which smiles and kindness given habitually are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.
Sir Humphry Day (1778-1829)