I'm finding it hard to breathe.
Standing in line.
The people are sitting, standing, reading the walls. They are all so calm, and my heart is beating with the anxiety of new.
I feel arms around my shoulders and I melt. She hands me an elixir, and asks me if I'm OK.
Wraps her fingers in a new hairdo, and I quietly let her be close to me.
No. I reply... and the tears brew in the corners of my eyes.
What are you struggling with?
And whether I will be able to afford just one gift for each of my 4 children. Christmas is the one holiday of the year that brings every one of us altogether.
Then I continue to share what it feels like to stay strong when pieces of broken are being held together. For the love of one day at a time.
She stares with wide eyes at me.
With the fragility of being understood.
And begins her story.
I believe in grieving.
I've been here almost 2 years.
Arrived with nothing and escaped an abusive relationship with lifelong scars.
She inhales sharply and grabs my hands from behind the counter, now.
Can I hold you?
I watch her face.
Full of hope.
This wild empathy.
I nod my head.
She runs full tilt around the long counter towards me, and stops right as I'm placing everything from my hands right down on the floor.
I slowly wrap my arms around her as she holds on tight.
Pressing hearts together.
A long awaited reunion of 2 friends who've never even learned each other's names.
In the bottom of my bag is a mini shawl I have just finished. Remember the boring one? I ask her to wait. And explain that when I need to ache I also want to finish projects.
So what you struggle with actually becomes a gift?
For who? For me?
Her face lights up, and the tears of joy spill..
And I understand.
That after 35 years of knitting that is what my Grandmother was actually trying to teach me.
"You can do anything you set out to do as long as you're grateful to try."
I never understood before.
What her words meant.
When ever I tried to give up.
Or when someone's words hurt..
"Darling you must look up, throw some salt over your shoulder if you have to. There's a whole world out there and they're going to love you. Even when you don't feel loved. Listen to their stories. We are all connected."
This shawl with an equally matched button.
I haven't thought much of it.
An then it leaves my hands with the fervor of realizing someone is winning the lottery.
We both are.
She wraps it every which way and is dancing right out into the market. Showing everyone in these closed quarters.
And I realize some times that I can't even breathe, some times that I can't even handle. Those times seem to have a way of being the best gifts.
I tell her
We'll meet again.
And walk away.