I recognized something in a man's eyes today. Weariness and fatigue pressed down, dimming most of the light in his beautiful blue eyes. It was all there in his face, the bags under his eyes, the dullness of his complexion, the inflammed watery eyes revealing a chronicity of poor and inadequate sleep. Oh how I've seen that face in the mirror, looked in those same blood shot eyes. That old school-ground taunt, "takes one to know one" was never more true than today. This man's wife is dying. After five years, she is nearing the end.
This recognition came about because I walked up to introduce myself and make a comment to him after hearing him speak. I had wanted to encourage him to follow through with writing something he'd spoken about so passionately. He'd said, almost in passing, that he'd probably never get around to writing it. It was as I shook his hand and gave my encouragement that I looked him full in the face. The details of how we got from point A to point B don't much matter but we were soon sharing our stories and I immediately felt a deep compassion for him. We only spent about 5 minutes together ~ talking and understanding and holding each others pain. Two total strangers, empathizing. Bennett came over and joined us for a few minutes and as I introduced the two of them Bennett immediately connected to the man and shared some kind words and a tear. It was a beautiful and powerful few moments.
The rest of my day was nothing if not routine. I cleaned up the house and fed the kids. The Steelers lost a gut-wrencher of a football game in OT. I got cranky and was more short-tempered with the kids than they deserved, truth be told. We talked it out and hopefully we learned something for next time. But for a while today, against the backdrop of our very grieved and confused society, I met a stranger and we connected over pain and heartache and weariness.