Our trip is coming to an end.
I am sitting on a train heading home after a long, hot day. In the row of seats in front, a woman is facing me. I can see her face in my window. Her teenage son sits opposite to her. He is chatting away, seemingly happy to be in her presence. His mother’s responses are getting slower and more measured. The rocking of the train and the warm sunlight are lulling her into a sedative state. Finally, she says to her son as if he was a small nattering child, “Please, can I just have 30 minutes of silence? It’s been a long day. I’m tired and I have a long week ahead. Please just stop talking.” She turns her head towards the window and stares absently out. She doesn’t see the slumping of his shoulders or the bowing of his head.
But I do. And it breaks my heart.
I have been her. Exhausted and run down, she wants to preserve what little energy she has left.
Ironic that we tend to be most impatient with the ones closest to us, the ones we love. I suppose it is because we think that they understand us. They see through all the trappings and pretense to see our weaknesses and love us despite them. They will forgive all.
Our moments of dismissiveness certainly will be outweighed by our moments of attentiveness. That is our hope anyways.
But they still leave scars; fissures in our relationships that threaten to break open if left unattended.
But it is how we treat others, a callous disregard and disdain that will yield the greatest fractures. Our neighbors, friends, strangers, unaware of our burdens and weary souls bare the brunt of our collective frustrations. Most times, we don’t mean to be rude. We just don’t give as much thought and care in the treatment of others as we do with loved ones.
I will admit, I was jealous of this mother and the interaction with her son. I wanted her to know the precious gift she had in front of her. I wanted …I wanted …
Instead, as she caught my eye, I smiled at her. It was a wistful, gentle, “ I’ve been there” smile. She looked away perplexed.
Moments later, still gazing out the train window, she placed her fingers over his and squeezed. Then turned and begin their conversation again.
Our trip maybe ending but the journey continues.