We both had swollen eyes still glistening in grief as I walked into the coffee shop that morning. My feet felt as heavy as my heart. She moved her arms around my waist with an effort that seemed to consume what little energy she had left, planted her head against my chest, and whimpered out,
“My Mom is gone.”
My heart arrested. Each sob against my chest felt like defibrillator pads being charged with a higher frequency of electricity, delivering shocks against my heart’s wall to convert it from this dying, quivering rhythm, into a normal one.
I stood, waiting in that hug. Waiting for my heart to respond to the shocks of her grief. For it to start beating again. To pump blood to my brain, so I could formulate words of comfort for my grown friend, now curled up against me like a lost, 5 year old girl.
I had only lost a love. Felt the sting of betrayal. The absence of joy. The robbery of trust and belonging. One day I would find it again, but she… She won’t won’t find her Mom again. We only get one of those.
I sat down with her still curled against me, my heart unable to convert to a stable rhythm, and exhaled the only words that came,
“I am not the ray of sunshine you need right now. But I can keep hugging you in this commiseration that life is hard. It really sucks. Right now, it’s not even close to fair. And I’m so, so sorry.”
She looked up at me. Her bottom lip tucked underneath the top, mid quiver, and gave me the best acceptance speech ever delivered,
“If you were a ray of sunshine right now, I would punch you in the face. I need you just like this.”
There, just like that, amidst the buzzing traffic of tired, caffeine dependent strangers, my eyes opened. Maybe the world doesn’t need us to show up with the perfect lines and poise we pressure ourselves into every day.
Maybe all the world really needs is more of us to come as we are.