I went to have my hair done this morning. My friend, Lana, does my hair and she had booked a woman and me a few minutes apart to let our color sit. Lana was a bit behind, so the three of us began talking. First about nothing, really. But somehow before we knew it, we were talking about everything.
We talked about my divorce, and I don't usually get into that kind of detail with a stranger. We talked about loss and fear. We talked about worry and perspective after the struggle and we laughed about my dating life (who wouldn't?)
I think sometimes you meet people to give you perspective on your own life. If anyone should be granite, this woman should. She had four children. Her third child was killed in a car accident at 15. As a parent, no one can ever imagine how you could get through the death of a child. She began talking about how she didn't want to live. It was like she was trying to will herself to die. She couldn't get out of bed, took medication to get through the day. She didn't want to get through the next minute, much less the rest of her life.
She said her older two children were in college. They stayed home for a semester after the accident and returned to school. The youngest boy was 11. Finally, her husband came to her bed with their son. He asked her if she wanted to live and she said, no. He said that if she made that choice, she should move over, because this child could not lose his sister and his mother.
Beginning that day, she got out of bed and went through the motions. She faked it until she made it. And she survived and lived. She even went back to work. It took 4 years, but she went back to work.
I can not relate to losing a child. I can relate to the fear of losing a child. As she said you have learned fear. I have learned the reality of that fear.
The interesting thing that tied us together, I think was that we had both experienced extreme difficulties in different ways, and our perspectives had been forever changed. I asked her if she found it difficult not to say, "You need to get a bigger problem," to people who complained over trivia. She answered an emphatic, "Yes!" We have both learned to keep our mouths shut at these times. And I told her I try to think that not everyone has the same strength to get through adversity and that unhappiness is not a small thing no matter how people arrive at it.
You wouldn't think in the midst of this conversation that we would laugh, but most of the time were were laughing. The moments of silence felt profound, but in between was laughter. We laughed at a story she told of her husband's cancer (see what I mean, granite) and how he went to the ER and they got hysterical over something not funny at all, probably to keep from crying. We laughed about my date who cried in his beer over the loss of a pinky finger (get a bigger problem, right?).
We were two apparently different people. She is in her 60s. I am almost 40. Her children are grown. Mine are young. She is married. I am not. But we had worlds of experiences that brought us together and I am be glad for the 3-hour, running-behind hair appointment. I hope we do it again soon.