Grief on a Train: Meeting Marguerite

She’s the absolute picture of grief: petite, aged, black coat draped across her torso and fingers pressed against her lips as she looks blankly towards the curtained window.

“Are you alright?”

She shakes her head no, the tears springing up immediately. She opens up the slim volume in front of her– Psalms and Proverbs, maybe a few other books as well- and shows me a picture of a lovely woman, dyed blond hair, in her forties.

“My daughter,” she says, in an accented voice, “She’s had a five year battle with cancer.”

I’ve started rubbing her shoulder almost immediately. Her sweater is soft, and I try to make my eyes sympathetic.

“She’s beautiful.”

“She was only forty-seven. Too young…what’s your name?”

“Chloe.”

“I’m Marguerite.”

 

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High-Fives From The Trees

When I was little, I biked through the streets of suburbia, attempting to get lost in the maze of tract homes, all made from four  different floor plans but flipped and painted to create the illusion of variety. My own house was such a nondescript shade that I couldn’t tell you if it was gray or green or blue, merely that it was on the corner of Maria and Stone Creek Drive.

Sometimes I would ride with my eyes on the sky, craning my neck to keep track of where the flocks of birds were going and attempting to modify my route through the streets to match their path above the rooftops. I imagined I was like DaVinci, studying their movements and trying to understand how they flew.

Other times, I’d race down the sidewalks and imagine that all the trees were cheering me on. They reached out to give me high fives with their overhanging branches, and I let the leaves slap against my outstretched palm, one hand gripping the handle bar, the other reaching out to receive the encouragement.

Eventually I’d park the bike behind a bush, and climb up into my tree, up into the smaller branches until I was as high as they would allow. The wind against my face felt like the world reaffirming my right to enjoy the day; I was Pocahontas, watching the horizon for any strange clouds that might come to change my life.