Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | June 19, 2011

a gift

Yesterday at farmer’s market I ran into a man I know. I don’t know him very well but we are simpatico, which is odd considering how rarely we speak and how little we know about each other. Jeff and I knew him and his wife only from casual conversations on the bleachers while watching our beautiful pony-tailed daughters play high school field hockey.

I haven’t seen him in many months. He asked how I was and I could tell it was a real question. I told him how astonishingly hard it has been, losing Jeff. I told him that at nearly two years I am starting to pull out of it, some days. I told him about the hearts.

He asked me a question about the hearts that no one has ever asked before, in all the talktalktalk about my seemingly random yet continuous finding of heart shaped objects, the many discussions of religion, energy v. matter, life after death, or lack thereof.

“What do you think that means?”

It struck me as such a personal question, particularly from someone so nearly a stranger, and yet, the question is so basic. No one has ever asked me that so point-blank, not even my closest friends. What do you think that means? Blink.

It was hard to form an articulate answer. I am still trying to wrap my own head around what any of it means. I am well aware how loopy my assertions sound to someone who has not experienced the feeling of someone being there who is clearly not here, not among the living. And I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes regarding their own beliefs, whatever they may be. Especially since my own beliefs are so inchoate, so unformed, so subject to change. Anyway, I tried to answer his query, and he listened with interest.

And then I thanked him for something I thought he probably didn’t even remember. We saw each other in front of the library a few weeks or months after Jeff died. He was going in and I was coming out. The ramp is narrow, not really wide enough for two people to pass. It was during the (long and sometimes still ongoing) period where I chose carefully where and when I ran errands, and wore sunglasses even at night, and kept a baseball hat pulled down low over my eyes. I never knew when I would cry at some random occurrence but had already learned people often have an uncanny ability to make it worse, not better. And certainly no one knows what to do with a weeping widow out in public. No one knows what to say; I get that; and pretty much anything anyone might say is hard to hear. But when people say nothing, that is hard to hear also. When they act as if he never existed that is hardest of all.

So we passed each other on this narrow concrete ramp. If we’d been on the sidewalk we might have merely smiled or nodded. By then I’d gotten quite skilled at not pausing to chat with acquaintances, and adept at the body language of Don’t Come Over.

But. He asked if he might hug me. We hugged, for a long sweet moment, in the sunshine in front of the library, and he said how sorry he was, and how hard it must be (another thing that no one ever says!). And I cried. He didn’t try to make me stop. He cried too. And it was fine. It was fine. It was lovely to talk with tears in our eyes.

When I thanked him for that yesterday, I cried again. He cried again. A tear rolled down his cheek and hung off his unshaven chin. He let it hang there. It was, for some reason, the most touching thing ever.

Then he put his hands together in front of his heart. He looked me in the eyes. He gave a little bow. And he walked away.

Sometimes people give gifts they don’t even know they are bestowing. Gifts which cost nothing but will stay with the receiver always. Thank you, Bill.



  1. What a kind and generous man. Truly, Namaste, in the purest sense…..Love and Light, Carolyn. Namaste to you.


  2. amazing aren’t they? People like him. Special. And a special moment, so tenderly written about. I could picture him!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: