Much of what I have written thus far has been of the 2nd person narrative, wise but observational, entertaining but purposeful, truthful but advise filled for the most part. While mulling over this weeks topic, the decision was made to turn the written focus on a personal story that may be of interest to the casual reader. It is not grandiose, or full of rockstar-filled antics but instead, this weeks short, truthful quiet narrative is quite the opposite. It is quiet, introspective and beautiful.
So, let's begin with a bit of banter:
In this fast pace world, kindness and compassion seem to take a back seat to selfies, self-interest and expendable human interactions. Kindness is fundamental to the human existence, however, we seem to forget the impact it truly has on our soul. From the beginning, we are thrust into the world as newborns and enriched with the kindness of our parents’ nurturing for the ensuing years. Humans are the only mammals with a prolonged gestation period. Other creatures rely on support for a brief time before becoming self-reliant. We are powerless at birth and depend on our caregivers to provide for our needs, therefore, kindness is sewn into the framework of our DNA. We are literally wired for kindness from birth and should have a profound need to give and receive kindness. Not something that demands hard work, kindness originates from the simple act of doing no harm to others and It involves judging less, however compelled you might be to do so. The ego is quick to judge when it is victimised and hurt, so it retaliates in revenge. Kindness, however, bites its tongue. It does not seek to be right but rather, to preserve peace of mind. You gain little by giving someone a piece of your mind, other than inciting conflict and separation. Kindness piggy-backs on the the shoulders of humanities beautiful side and rides off into the sunset with happiness. So, at this point it would be assumed you understand this blogger is a huge fan of kindness and the act of? Well, you my friend, would be correct in that assumption. I love intelligent people and you have proven yourself worthy, so, please continue reading! :) The follow short, non-fictional tale is recent and one of the many reasons why kindness is my favorite human act.
As many of you may already know, my wife passed away of triple negative breast cancer. The disease was recently made famous by Angelina Jolie and her self-assault toward her own inner-struggles with the disease and the devastation it brought to her family by way of losing her mother. I will not make this writing about the cancer experience itself or my wife's fight for her life, (if you continue to request that story, however, one day soon I may oblige) which, leaves one feeling very PTSD-like (Post Tramatic Stress Disorder) from watching someone you love melt away but the lasting effects sneak up on you like a mugger in the night and steal away a piece of your soul. Like that muggar, mourning will out run even the most intelligent of pursuers because like that mugger, emotions know the streets much better than a victim and will find a way to escape capture in the dark, every time.
During this period, I was the self-proclaimed rock in the storm. No matter how big the waves crashed, I stood there, unrelenting, unwatered but rather, with the resolve to make her last days of life correct with the decisions and actions I made. I am rather proud of those moments, I believe highly that no moment is ever perfect, each second has flaws and my moments of strength I am sure had cracks, however, I do stand with my head high for how one love passing was protected. The issues did not occur until post-mortem emotions kicked in. After my wife passed, I went into a place where I could be alone, in my head, seclusion from affection, meaning, human interaction. It became a protective shell of impenetrable strength but beneath the surface was the PTSD-filled raw emotion that comes with mourning. The type of sadness where song lyrics take on deeper meaning and the confusion between what was and now is becomes even more blurred. So, in a nutshell, I ran far away, into myself and at times, I am still not sure I have fully, or will fully return, however, tragedy has a way of bringing out the beauty of humanity in others who want to help you find your soul again.
One day, some time after losing my wife, I was having a day of typical solitude that would make even Superman's home (fortress of solitude) look like a Hollywood Hills after party event, (yes, the blog even has bad jokes now, lol) when, I received a life changing text from a female friend that will support my claims for the act of kindness. Before we go any further, I feel a brief explanation of this so called: "friend" is necessary for not only the importance of story reference but also, value to the reader and blog topic itself. Her name is India (yes, her name really is India). India is a beautiful woman with dark features and a gypsy soul. She is a very responsible, career-oriented young lady but most important to the story, she recently married her long-time love (friend of mine as well) and was, is and will always be a strictly-plutonic friend.
That will be of SUPER-IMPORTANCE to the story down the road.
So, on this particular day, after a morning of silence, in the early afternoon, I heard the typical iPhone ding break the calm. As I brought myself to check the who it was, the title simply said: India. As I opened up the message, I could see her asking a simple question. "A., what are you up to right now?" So, I texted her back: "Nada, you?" India, in her very cool chick way of being simply wrote: "Meet me in old-town in one hour, be there, or I will kick your ass!" As you may have already suspected, the thoughts were flying through my head. WTF, was my first reaction but I will admit, what the woman wants, the lady gets, and like a good soldier, I simply got my sh#t together, threw some clothes over my back and drove down to old town. As I parked, I noticed they were setting up some sort of Jazz festival, so, the freaks were out in full force and I felt right at home. The congestion of people was moderate but not having a place of meeting, looking through the swarms of people for one girl was concerning because, simply, I was aware the young lady wanted to kick my ass if I blew her off. I searched, and I searched, and I searched, yet I could not find India. Suddenly, that all too familiar ding of the iPhone rang through the air and it was her. The text simply said: "turn around" and when I did, across the street was the lovely India giving me the middle finger and laughing with the biggest smile, ever.
As I crossed the street, I could see the young lady wearing a loose fitting leather jacket, scarf around her neck, big 70's style round rim sunglasses and a straw hat with a sunflower on it. She said: "you're such a goof, I was following you the whole time." Not amused, I replied: "Why the fuck didn't you tell me?" India simply stated: "What's the fun in that?" I will admit, I was not thrilled with her antics but then she suddenly the words burst out like a horse coming out of the gate at Churchill downs and asked: "Do you know why your here?" Clueless, I replied: "No, what the fuck is this all about?" That is when she made her intentions clear. "First, stop swearing every other word, second, I brought here because it is time for you to start living again...." Not in the mood for intervention, interaction, or bullshit, I rolled my eyes and began to walk away.
India, I am sure, was understanding she had a task in front of her. It was obvious she knew "tough love" tactics were in order when she ran down the sidewalk and jumped in front of me like a chipmunk in front of a freight train, pointed her finger up at me and let loose with the following: "listen here mister, I am sick of your shit. We all know what you have been through, we all know how ugly things were, we all loved her too, but this bullshit, isolation, self-loathing, self-guilt shit will end today, right now, right here...I will not let you go another moment until you speak with me and then after we talk, if you never want to see me again, fine, but today, you will stay your ass here, right now and talk to me." Bold and Brazen, that is my friend India. Then, suddenly, she threw her arms around me and said the strangest thing I have ever heard, she said: "today, I will be your woman, so you can get through this and see that her wish would be for you to be happy."
When I asked about her fiancé', she replied sarcastically, "What he doesn't know won't kill him." We are very close, so I knew what the connotation really meant. Although I fought the notion for a few moments, I, finally, So, gave in. India and I probably spent two hours walking down the riverwalk talking on a beautiful, sunny day until dusk. We spoke on all sorts of topics, marriage, sex, love, life, death, politics, music and even food. It was a magical time between two people who fit together like they were made for each other. The woman had a way of making the invisible band-aide she was applying to my heart not only stick but heal the wounds into perfectly formed scars for later reflection. Although I cannot say that one visit made everything better it did make the fortress of solitude seem less necessary and the light at the end of the tunnel seem brighter at the very least.
As we arrived back to the where we began and turned to one another to say our thank you's and goodbye's, India once again opened up an enormous can of worms when she leaned in to me and whispered: "I noticed all day you did not touch me, why didn't you touch me?" Now if you haven't noticed, I am a testosterone driven male with the typical needs and desires that male thinking provoke, which, made her statement even more confusing. I replied: "umm, that is because you are engaged, hello?" India rolled her eyes, and blurted back: "I didn't ask you to fuck me silly, I said that I noticed you haven't touched me all day. Touching is not always about sex, not always about hormones, touching is about human connection and being connected with other people. So, why haven't you touched me all day, and that isn't an observation, it is a demand?" I was, once again, confused by her language. So, like the ignorant male that I am, I simply answered, "what the fuck are you talking about?" The young woman once again rolled her eyes, and asked: "OK, so answer this, when was the last time you touched a woman, I mean really touched a woman, not shake hands or hug, or whatever?" Obviously, I had not connected with a woman since my wife passed away and the road has been closed off for service ever since, so, like any typical male trying to avoid a discussion, I retorted with the sarcastic comment "whatever" and turned to lean over the rail, while looking out over the river and more specifically, ignoring the question.
Now, pay attention to the following, this is where the beauty kicks in:
As i hung over the rail, ignoring the lady, India slowly crept up next to me and began to whisper one of the most profound, yet simple statements I have ever heard. She said: "I know life has been unfair to you. I know you are broken inside and I know that right now, it seems like there is nothing good in life or everything seems ugly to you. I am sorry for what happened to her, what is happening to you but you can't let your heart go dark, baby. I know you don't know this but I used to watch you and her when you were together. You guys are the reason I want to get married and believe there is goodness in love and the world and you two were a part of my goodness. I want to bring that back to your heart, back to your soul, back to your life. I know I am not her, I know this seems ridiculous to you right now but before your mind leaves me again, I want you to know that I love you, that we care for you, and I only want you to do one more thing for me." As, I broke my stare and looked over at India, I noticed her sunglasses were off and her eyes were welled up and pleading to my soul. It was enough to realize this was one of those "real moments" in life. I finally replied by saying: "What's that?" Being the beautiful soul that she is, India gently ran her hand down my cheek and gently looked me in the eye and said: "Today, I am her. I used to watch how she loved to hold your hand, come sit on the bench with and hold her hand one last time."
There was a bench overlooking the jazz festival, it sat center of the park and elevated. The two of us walked over and sat down. No words were spoken. We didn't even look each other in the eye. I felt her gently take my hand into hers and we just sat there. Absolute silence between us. I, then, felt her gently kiss my cheek and put her head on my shoulder, like my wife used too. It was as if my wife soul was there with us, channeled through her friend, telling me it was alright to live again. Tears. We sat there for hours, watching the Jazz festival, no words spoken, holding hands. My wife's spirit breaking the boundary I had created between myself and letting another woman touch my flesh. It was the kindest and most beautiful thing anyone has ever done for me. The young woman reconnected me to emotion, love, feeling and life. She did it by simply holding my hand, on a random park bench in the city while the sun set. Her kindness saved my soul and for that I will always be eternally grateful.
Yesterday, India married the love of her life.
Today, I thank her for giving me back mine.