She saw my tears asked if I was okay, but I was too emotional to speak. She sat beside me, placed a hand on my back and offered me a tissue. I accepted, upset with myself for crying in public. I wanted to ask her to leave. Instead, I told her I was just having one of those days where I was feeling the weight of all my shortcomings. Thinking about all the choices I made—and the ones I didn’t—that led me to the point where I felt like my entire life was a game of catch up, how all the things I wanted in life seemed just out of my reach. I told her about the loss of my child, and how it resulted in the loss of my marriage. I told her how afraid I was to live in the few happy moments that came my way, because I was always waiting for the next horrible event that would come along and rob me of my joy. I told her that most days I was just living, but far from alive. By the time I finished speaking, my tears had become uncontrollable sobs and I was in her arms like a child.
She pulled me away from her and looked at me as she spoke. She told me it was okay to feel what I was feeling. That I’d suffered tremendous loss and it was understandable that I’d be afraid to live fully, but that I could not settle into that space. That all my choices and experiences shouldn’t hold me down, but should give me purpose. She told me that on that day, my purpose was to remind her that she is needed. I looked at her and realized that she was suffering through her own pain while helping me work through mine. Immediately, all the weight I felt had lifted. Then it dawned on me that I’d bonded with a complete stranger. I thanked her for kindness and introduced myself.
“I’m glad I could be here for you today,” she said. “My name is Hope.”