The gray-haired stranger wiped tears from her face as she approached me on the oceanside trail. The quick gesture to her red eyes took me by surprise as she passed in the opposite direction. Her pain lingered as I continued with Teak to the dock, strode out to the end and turned around. I noticed her off trail, sitting on a log, gazing at the ocean. Her tears continued to fall. In a response usually reserved for children in distress or those in physical need, I overcame the stranger-factor and approached her. I placed my hand gently on her back and asked if she was okay ... was there anything I could do?
O, I'm alright, she said. A woman's typical knee-jerk response. Especially to a stranger.
Then she caught herself, and our humanity joined:
My Mother just died, she said.
Her words filled the universe.
I pressed harder on her back and slowly rocked her back and forth. Several minutes passed. The silent comfort of two women born of mothers; strangers but not strangers at all.
I came here to be with her, she said, tears flowing.
You're in the perfect place, I said, with all the love I could garner.
A few more moments passed. I lifted my hand from her back and slowly rose.
Thank you, she said. She reached out and squeezed my hand as her eyes turned from me to the sea.
It would have been so easy to keep walking. To give in to the myriad reasons not to stop -- mind your own business, don't talk to strangers, don't interfere, you'll startle her, who do you think you are?
I took a risk that sunny morning, and followed an instinctual response to be the Mother I was put here to be. To touch a stranger with my heart.
In a world where malevolence rains, it was time. I could have handled her rejection. I couldn't, however, pass her by.
Blessed Mother's Day.