You and Me

girl buddhaThe city is still gritty and muddy and brown, and we’re mostly still wearing black, and I have a hard, hard pebble lodged under my skin, deeply housed in the muscle that carries me. But we’re waking up after a very long sleep, and we’re outside again, walking on the dusty sidewalks, and the ice on the river is breaking up, and the sky is blue this afternoon. And when I left my student yesterday she leaned out her open window where the wind was whipping her curtains around, and shouted something, and I felt a spark of something I’d almost forgotten.

She and I are working on English language skills, but we’re working on so much more. She asks if my husband is a good man. I tell her he is, and she crosses her arms over her heart in gratitude. When I tell her she’s done an excellent job reading a story we’ve been working on for a while now, she grins suddenly, puts up her hand, and says, “high five!” When she meets a new neighbour in the hallway she shouts his name and embraces him.

She is teaching me about the magnificent size of our spirits, about just how much grief a single person can carry with dignity. She lowers her eyes and tells me a few more bits of her story, and I tell her I’m so sorry for her loss. She can’t look at me. I put my hand on her leg and suggest she misses terribly her husband and the children she has lost. She doesn’t seem to know exactly what I mean by this, and says only that she has become very tired, but I see tears slip down her beautiful cheeks. I feel tired too, just thinking about her losses. Grief does that, I remember as she speaks, it makes us tired.

So we sleep, we sleep, sometimes for months and months at a time. And then the mountains of ice begin to break up, and we feel a little less tired, and I think I may feel inspired enough to try dislodge that other old pebble again.


10 thoughts on “You and Me

  1. So poignant . Thank you, Connie.
    One of the most powerful contexts for healing is in relationship with another who can be silent with us moments of despair , who can stay with us in sorrow, who can tolerate not knowing… not fixing, not advising….
    It is in the eyes of the other- where the contact of genuinely “being present” is made,, that transformation occurs.

  2. Bingo Veronica. It is, in my experience, THE best medicine for our pain, both sides of that equation–seeing and being seen, affirming and being affirmed, empathizing and being empathized with. This kind of connection seems to me it is the very essence of life, what we’re hungry for. And of course readers taking the time to affirm what I share here is always medicine for me, so thank you so much for commenting. 🙂

  3. “Learning to be still” with the other person is hard . . I keep having to learn it . . .and also to receive it, without being apologetic . . .

    • Is that what is it Ike? It never feels like that… the process for me is much less thoughtful actually, more like a spontaneous (and temporary) evaporation of fog, leaving behind a little scrap of something suddenly in sharp focus.

  4. Connie, it seems from this moving account that downcast eyes can meet, and as they do the tiredness of winter opens to spirit spring.

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