I am still working on my compassion. It doesn’t come naturally – I am more Head than Heart – and Lord knows it’s difficult enough for me just to be charming. But I think often of the words a wise young man said several years ago: “Every day I have the opportunity to do better.” (He’s 10 now)
The other backstory to this post is a recent Mom’s Day Out with a Mom who told me how she had to cut her Mexico vacation short after receiving word her father had had a stroke. She told me that she cried – racking sobs, she said – from Cancun to Boston, “and not one person even offered me a tissue.”
So what would you do?
Last night, I was on the platform at Park Street, America’s first subway station. Boston is not New York, as they are fond of telling each other, but it has its own kind of bustle, and Park Street is where it shows itself most. It’s dark, and loud, and full of tourists, 3 sets of tracks upstairs, 2 sets down – everyone has somewhere to be.
In the middle of it, seated on what passes for benches by the D stop, a young woman was holding a coffee and very quietly succumbing to tears. She would heave a minute, wipe her cheeks, gulp.
And I thought, “…and not one person even offered me a tissue.”
If you believe in the Sisterhood, and I do, you feel there must be something to do when handed this moment. I also believe in the Humanity, but I’ll admit I believe the Sisterhood is more crucial.
Then I wondered, “do I even have a tissue?” Into my Mary Poppins bag, where there is an umbrella, Hand-i-Wipes and a pack of crayons, but I was not sure about tissues. It is not quite tissue season yet. But I am a Spinster loose in the world, and we have our tissues.
I folded 2 discreetly in one hand, and with all the stealth of the city’s maiden auntie (who may also be a CIA operative, you don’t know), I stepped toward her and just held them out.
“Oh, no,” she mouthed, with a forced smile and bulging red eyes. I kept them out and simply said, at a Stranger Danger distance, “It’s Ok.” But no, she waved, and I said, “Are you OK?” She nodded, but broke eye contact, so I only added, “do you need some help?” And she said no.
I boarded the train.
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