Today I had a very…humbling experience. I was on the street car and there was a woman crying and hyperventilating. Now normally I would have passed by, averted my gaze and pretend that she probably didn’t want to talk to me anyways. Today was different. I sucked it up, felt awkward and looked at her and asked…”Are you okay?”. She seemed surprised, told me she was having trouble breathing then proceeded to hyperventilate. A nice gentleman beside us gave her an inhaler and we got to talking. She said she just got off a 12 hour shift at Starbucks and I told her I used to work there and I got how stressful it was. She laughed then told me she was going into surgery tomorrow for cervical cancer. Wow. Heavy shit.
I had a cousin who recently went into remission for cervical cancer. I told her that. I asked her if she had a support system and she said not really so I got her phone number. Just like that we were no longer strangers on the streetcar. We were connecting over pain but also the joy of two people really seeing each other. She was giving me the gift of seeing her pain and I was giving her the gift of acknowledging it and sharing it with her. All it took was three small words.
When we got to her stop she shook my hand and I gave her a hug. I told her I’d be praying for her. I’m thinking about her now and I truly hope she is okay. I feel like I was given a gift of connection. All by asking someone in need “are you okay?”
So friends, are you okay? Do you have stories to share or weights to remove from your chest?
Love you guys.