I heard the news today of a friend who had lost her battle with cancer. I bowed my head and thought of the last time I spoke with Connie Hubley. How she told me that they had found more of the blackness in her chest. How her voice shook, but her smile never faded. How I told her of the Ride to Conquer Cancer and how she thanked me and donated money to battle the disease on another front. I thought of her smile and that infectious little giggle she would have as she told a story. How she worked hard and had a hello for anyone she met.
I sit here tonight thinking of the times I inquired about her struggle, yet didn’t find the time to stop by and see her. And I sit here and cry many tears of sorrow of a lady lost and a few of my shame that I didn’t get to know her even more.
I think of the people that you meet….
- She walks toward me. Two strangers about to meet on a snowy sidewalk. Two strangers; she about 16 – just starting her life. White headphones dangled from both our ears. What music does she listen to? Does she listen to books? Where is she going? Does she have a boyfriend? What does she want to be when she grows up? We smile and and pass by each other, questions unanswered.
- His tousled hair seems dirty. His clothes; not much better. His English falters as he runs to catch up with his new friends. He is new to this snow; so excited to feel its chill. Where did he come from? What struggles brought him to this land? Is it hard to live so far away from the life you were born to? What hopes are in his heart?
- She’s obviously been crying, but she tries to hide it. She hangs her head, not making eye contact as I pass her in the hall. What brings those tears? Is she alone in this world? Is she scared? Is she lost? Who will help her? Who will hear her?
- He struggles to open the door as he goes into the bank. His once strong hands and arms fail him as his mind is angered by his frailty. I help him open the door and he mumbles a thanks. I wonder what oceans has he crossed? How many hours have those hands toiled? What have those grey eyes seen? How many friends has he lost over the years? Do his grandchildren hear his stories?
So many people, each day, in and out of my life. All those questions I do not ask. Stories I do not hear.
I am resolved to listen more, talk less.
I ache to hear the tales of adventure, the yearnings of the heart, the loves lost and found, the wrenching sadness and fears. I don’t want to miss any of it. It consumes me. I long for those voices, those words, those songs. So much I don’t want to miss.
- She comes to my office and cleans the “coffee table” because we IT people sure are messy! She decides that it’s time that carpet got vacuumed. She tells a story as she collects those garbage bags. I laugh and she smiles and giggles with me. She shows me the ring he got her; she is so pleased. She tells me how she just can’t seem to shake this cough. What would it have been like to sit and have coffee with you, away from this place of work? What was it like to meet your soul mate? How did you cope when the doctors told you the news? How did you tell your children? How can I help ease your pain?
Rest in peace my friend. I will hear your laughter again and sit for awhile and listen to your heart’s songs.