Yesterday was pretty routine, like most Wednesdays are. The girls and I bounced between the dentist, gymnastics, a couple of grocery stores and the gym. And we made a pit stop at Chipotle for lunch. It was there that the day became memorable. I had a divine encounter. At Chipotle. For real.
I met a friend in line. Marina. She was new to Chipotle. And even at the age of 80+ willing to try something new. The conversation started over my girls’ hair, which happens to be a very popular topic of conversation with strangers. From there we talked about school, Marina’s kids, her love of dance, birth control (or lack thereof), life, heart problems, adventure and loss. Somehow we fit an hour long conversation into a 7 minute line at Chipotle. It was miraculous. Really.
As the conversation progressed, Marina told me the story of her migration from Poland to Holland to America. “We would still be in Poland if it weren’t for the war. And I’d still have my brother and daddy if it weren’t for that nasty Hitler.” Her brother and father were killed in one of Hitler’s camps. Her brother starved. Her dad perished in one of the gas chambers. She told me of own survival – her resilience amazed me. She was young and starving, eating what she could find on the ground. Chewing on rotting potatoes until her gums bled.
I listened with my arm around her back. She cried. We both did.
In the end she said, “Everyone has a pack to carry. This is mine.”
As we approached the assembly line, she nervously asked what she should order. I told her my favorite and she asked that I do the ordering for her. We inched our way through – lettuce, brown rice, black beans, chicken, etc, – with linked arms and teary eyes.
Marina thanked me. Perhaps for helping carry her load.
And I thanked her. For trusting me with her load. For deepening my connection with this world.
We hugged, wished each other love, grace and peace. It wasn’t until I sat down that I realized I forgot to order my own lunch. The wonderful encounter left its mark in a bright and eternal way.
Marina’s right – we all have a pack to carry. A load to haul. Some are heavier than others.
Us humans have the capacity to share our loads. We cannot carry the full weight for another, but we can lessen the load. And that matters. You know it does.
As Marina and I worked our way through the Chipotle line, I shared the weight of her load. I listened. I touched. I cried. It wasn’t for a great distance, but it was long enough.
Our short journey together was a gift. For both of us. Because as we dare to share the load of another, our connection within the web of this loving universe is tightened. Our bond with each other strengthened.
Most of us are fortunate to experience both sides – sharing and carrying. Both are life altering, transformative experiences. They’re the encounters that leave bright spots in their wake. My mind holds on to them tightly. And when I stumble upon a memory, I’m left in tears over the experience of connecting to the souls around me.
One memory sticks out for me. And I have yet to share it here, for no reason other than wanting context, but not finding any. Marina reminded me.
It wasn’t too long ago. While we were still living in California. I had a miscarriage. I was 2+ months into the pregnancy and we were all very excited. Including the girls. I was feeling good. We decorated our Christmas tree and dreamed of what the following year would hold for our family of five. Another stocking. Another darling babe on Christmas Morning. And then, one Monday things changed. I called my doctor. She told me to stay in bed and look for signs of improvement. There were none. I worried. I asked Reece and Vera, toddlers at the time, to help me out since I wasn’t feeling well and needed to stay in bed. I tried to hide my tears, but I knew what was happening. And I was completely devastated.
I asked my people to pray. And they did. But they also showed up. To carry my load.
The first friend came within the hour. She hugged me so tightly. She cried with me. She brought me lunch. And helped me put my kids down for a nap. She was sad with me.
A little while later, my dad came over and played with the kids while I went to the emergency room. Isaac met me there. We waited and cried.
After a visit to the emergency room, ultrasound and consultation with my OB, the news was confirmed. The pregnancy was over. Within an hour of hearing the news, I went out for a run. As I pounded the pavement with anger and sadness, a friend drove by. He had just talked with Isaac. He pulled his car over and waited for me to run by. He stood there with arms open. I stepped into his hug and he held me as I sobbed. He didn’t say anything. He just held me.
The days following were full of friends and family. They spent hours at my house, doing whatever the moment called for. Playing with my kids. Feeding us all. Hugging. Crying.
Carrying. And as sad as those days were, what I remember most is being held by other people. Held and loved.
That miscarriage was my pack to carry. It was so damned heavy. But I didn’t feel the full weight of it for long. No, my people took it up with me and made it bearable.
Those days, and the weeks that followed, were so rich. They reminded me how alive I feel when I’m tethered to the souls of others.
This mystical universe is a web of souls moving and flowing among each other. With each other. And to really live is to accept the invitation to dance. Whether we’re crossing over peaks or trudging through valleys. To listen. To hold. To love. To carry the pack of another. And to honor the bright souls among us by allowing them share our load as well.
Thank you. All of you who choose to dance. Who accept the invitation to authentically engage with the people you meet. With me.
Grace, peace and love.