Saturday, March 25, 2017

Being Human

A soft glow of light emitted from an apartment window, contrasting against a lightening dawn sky. A man stood silhouetted at a kitchen sink. Maybe he was making his morning coffee. Maybe he was packing a lunch, or loading the dishes from the evening before into the dishwasher. I'll never know why I looked up to catch sight of it through the windshield of my car at the intersection below. I was only stopped long enough for a brief glimpse. Something about it was quiet, calm, comforting. Seeing another human being going about whatever daily routine they had, unaware they were briefly being observed by someone on the street, slightly envious of the peace a brief objective moment of observations affords, and curious if anyone had ever observed me in such an objective way, for a brief moment before continuing on with their day.

Another moment, driving again past the cemetery, to see a lone woman standing and having a conversation with a head stone. Maybe she was saying a final goodbye. Maybe she goes there to talk to the person the stone represents on a regular basis. Maybe she was telling them how the kids were doing, and how much she missed them. Maybe she was telling them they were a jackass and she was glad they were dead. Who knows? It was just a moment, another one, I had the privilege of noticing someone just being human.

As I sat in the waiting room, waiting for word that my 16 year old daughter was safely out from under the knife, but more importantly the anesthesia, an elderly man and his two adult daughters were waiting for word about his wife. From the little I overheard, she was suffering from some sort of cancer, and it had taken an unexpected turn for the worse. (I suppose it makes sense to have the ICU next to surgery, but it's a bit nerve-wracking for non-critical families in waiting.) I listened to them make plans for care, once she was discharged. I heard them say how grateful they were for the time they already had with her. I saw an old man cry because he was not ready to lose his wife. I saw two daughters strengthen and shore up their father, even as they tackled the prospect of losing their mother. I don't know what news they got. My daughter was wheeled out and I escorted her to a recovery room before the Surgeon came back to let them know how their mom/wife was doing. My heart goes out to them though.

I notice people. I fell out of the habit for a while, although I can't altogether say why. But it's coming back. Little mundane un-heroic moments of human existence; unnoticed in an ever busy world. They never make it into movies or stories. But somehow I feel they deserve to be recognized. Moments that we are not airbrushed and perfect, where we are framed by the light of a window for a brief moment, while doing something as ordinary as standing at the sink in our kitchen, or head-banging in the car to "Bohemian Rhapsody." Those moments although un-glamorous, are so human, and there is something intimate about catching a glimpse of it, even in passing.

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