I awake to sinuses that feel like they're on fire. My head aches. I have slept poorly but I hop up and check the feeds and find that Canada is ahead in its gold medal game against Sweden. I have a hot shower and come down to begin my efforts against this cold, annoyed that it has ruined my plans to go to a pub this morning to watch the game on a big screen with other fans. I keep tabs. We win! I am excited! I hear honking and whooping in the streets. I love this, and am in a fantastic mood even with all of the kleenexes I am having to use.
Eventually, I get myself outside on the way to pick up ingredients for chicken soup, some cold remedies and a movie. The city is grey and cold and reminds me of a black and white movie. The sidewalks are have patches of ice. Even the air is hard. I'm walking up the western sidewalk. There is a woman with a big hat walking up the eastern sidewalk. We're both moving at the same cadence which is annoying. You're really not supposed to walk WITH anyone on the street if you don't know them. This is an unspoken rule. I try to slow down, but then realize how silly that is, so I resign to keeping pace with her. It's a gold medal day, after all. A short way up the street, on Big Hat's side, I notice a woman crying, and I mean really crying. A man has passed her and is looking back. I wonder if they have had an argument. Big Hat slows and asks the man something. I see him shrug his shoulders and take this to mean that he doesn't know her. He continues on. Big Hat walks slowly toward the woman who is crying full tilt now. I slow.
I remember, years ago, I was coming out of a subway and passed a woman who was crying like this. In that crowd, no one stopped to see if she was alright, including me. This event still bothers me. I vowed I would never do that again. So, here, I crossed the street over to Big Hat's side. We both nodded to each other, wondering what to do, and reached the woman at the same time.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"No." she manages, "my aunt, who I was living with died and now I have nobody." She is distraught.
I put my hand on her arm.
"When did your aunt die?" I asked.
"Two weeks ago." she said
Big Hat asks her about friends.
"They don't live around here. They all have kids. They're party friends. They don't want me." she sobs. Her face is covered in tears. I pull out a kleenex and give it to her. She goes on to explain that her parents had died seven years ago. She couldn't cry then for some reason but now, all of the sudden, here on the street, she felt it. The crying had come. I take a risk, step closer and hold her. I feel her lean into me, still crying. Big Hat puts her hand on the woman's arm. After a time, I stand back, and I feel she has lightened. I sense that she has made it out of the trough. Big Hat and I talk with her about struggle and the fact that most of the people passing by on the street are going through something. They just aren't showing it. I acknowledge that she is going through a very tough time. The three of us stand talking, and more importantly, listening, on the sidewalk for some time. She settles down and even laughs when we bring up the this is character building nut.
Between Big Hat and I, we get her back into the present and feeling much better. She goes on her way, thanking us for stopping.
Big Hat and I walk up the sidewalk together, completely in step, and talk about what has just happened and what a crazy world this is. We talk about loneliness and how hard life can be sometimes. She thanks me for stopping. And I thank her. She gestures that we have arrived at her house and waves goodbye. I wave and continue on to get my provisions but I feel emotionally full. What was that? What just happened? Well, I made contact I guess. I am grateful to the crying woman for this. I sincerely hope she is okay. She wasn't the only one to benefit from the interaction. Absolutely not.