ARE YOU ALRIGHT?
I cried then as I do now. More snot and tears!
My 21st-hour break from my child for the year. How wonderful to move my body around a lake, headphones on (Gavin DeBecker says this can be seen as vulnerability to those with ill intent). I hear the end of a song on my device which struck a strong emotional chord. I wanted to hear the whole song again and find it on Youtube. As I listen I think of my friend, Ava and where she is at in life. Having lost so much faced with great uncertainty hoping everything has been removed to create space for a new life. I think of where I was at only a year ago when I experienced this myself. Tears welled up in my eyes.
My bloody moisturiser started to sting them!
All good. I saw the public toilets and fount toilet paper to wipe away the moisturiser and tears. A small-sized, first nation human, with no shoes, walks in and notices. “I come here to cry often”. They had some items in their hands. “I like having a shower when I do”.
Me: “Me too!” I tell them I have no filter. “Are you homeless?”
Them: “Yes, I am”.
Me: “Are you afraid at night?”
Them: “Only of snakes. I hate snakes”.
Me: “My goodness, I’d more afraid of the people”.
By this time I am crouching down as they sit on their stuff in a plastic bag.
Me: “I have a tent and I feel safe in there with one of my sons.”
Me: “You have children? How many children do you have?”
They cry and I am witness to stories of deeply painful and personal lived experiences throughout their life.
I gently and softly say, “It’s not your fault”.
My heart breaks with theirs. We cry together sitting on the cold concrete of the public toilets. We had a few white people walk in, look at us and walk straight into the toilet cubicles.
I knew how this looked to them.
It was written right across their shocked faces. I’m sitting with a homeless human, on the floor of the public toilets as they bawl their eyes out. They probably think I’ve got myself caught up with someone I don’t really want to be with.
I wanted to be with them, I knew I was to be ‘there’ for them.
I felt it was by no accident that I just so happened to get some time off from my beautiful child and find myself crying in a public toilet when my new friend walked in. I gently repeated, “It’s not your fault. You didn’t create this anger. You couldn’t control this anger or make it go away. It’s not your fault.”
They shared some more.
Me: “You are a courageous, compassionate and brave human. You weren’t meant to know what was going to happen. Who would?”
They looked up at me with their greeny brown eyes, I am the first to hear their story, others have been cold and said nothing.
“I hear you. I see you. I SEE you. I acknowledge your story today.” I continued to tell them, “I see you” over and over again. I felt when I looked into their eyes that no one had seen them before. “You are incredible. Brilliant beyond measure”.
They held their hands up to the sky again and spoke. They continued to cry.
A white person walked into the toilets and asked if I were okay. I wish I had asked, “Why are you asking me?” But I didn’t. “We’re okay, thank you”. We both took turns to grab toilet paper to wipe our tears and snot from our noses. I felt it was a time of healing that I was privileged to be a part of.
So much loss. So much snot. So many tears. We shared together.
Me: “You have endured a war of your own. A horrendous, painful war of no peace and only suffering. Not everyone goes through this. Some but not everyone.” I am crying. They are crying. “If you ever wonder why you are crying now you know why. You have endured such awful suffering.” As they caress their face with their right hand. Holding themselves, huddled now.
There was more sharing. More storytelling of childhood memories and present pain.
Healing was happening and it wasn’t our choice. We could’ve moved but it may have broken the healing momentum of something old and so sore. It was time for them to be heard. Healing to be had. Who was I to choose where or with whom? I was a stranger who could see myself in another human. An indigenous human. A homeless human. We were not different. We were together sharing something I shall never forget and I said I would always remember them.
I invited them to find me if they wanted to see me again.
I was very mindful their journey is their journey, supporting them to do what is right for them. Their life – their decisions. They live without a home during the hot summers and the freezing winters. They are tough beyond measure and yet so fragile too. Taking over their life – interfering, I’d imagine would terrify them. I want to support their choices in their time.
I do hope I SEE them again.
Me: “I was listening to this song as I was walking around the lake and it made me cry. It is not by accident we were meant to meet. I rarely get out for a break and here I am. I would like to play the song for you. Would you like to listen?” They nodded and together we watched and listened to ‘ARE YOU ALRIGHT’.
They bawled. I bawled. Together on the cold tiled floor.
It was like Life was answering their cries in the night. It was like their loved one was talking to them through the words of the song.
Just written for them.