I was on the late train home last night after a rehearsal. I’d started to settle down in my seat to do some journal writing, which I was required to stop due to what was going on around me.An Aboriginal lady had hopped on board the train, and had sat down just beyond me. I could tell that she’d been crying, and she was still wiping her tears away, and wiping her nose. I thought that she was getting better, but it became more apparent that she was holding back, trying to cry discretely without intruding on those around her. I tried to put this out of my mind and continue with my writing- even trying to put some music on- but I just couldn’t ignore this. At one point she looked at me, her eyes more noticeably redder now than they had been when she had first sat down. I can’t stand to see a woman cry alone. Before I knew it I was packing my iPod away. Before I knew it the journal was back in my bag as well.
After about two false starts to get up and give her my handkerchief, I was on my feet heading over to her; my hand searching in my pocket for the hanky that I always carry on me.
“Here, have this.” She asked if I was sure. I nodded. “Keep it.” Satisfied that the kindness of a stranger might have been enough to assure her that she was not alone I returned to my seat, but kept a non-intrusive eye on her. With the wide surface of the hanky, now opened up before her, invitingly providing a way to release the bursting anguish inside of her, she buried her face deep into it and broke down, now openly- but still discretely- sobbing. My heart was killing me. I gave her a few more minutes to let the emotion spend itself out of her system. I was concerned about leaving her on her own in this state, and at this time of night. I went back over and crouched down to talk to her.
“Where are you getting off? Will you be able to get home? I’m more than happy to walk you if you need it”. She assured me that she would be okay. My suggestion that some sleep would probably help was met with a rapid change in emotion. As she would explain, there would be no sleep for her tonight, and as she rose to her feet it seemed that this was as much a reaction to the emotion that was swelling in her, as it was to her getting ready to get off the train at the next station.
There’d been some sort of betrayal. Her friend was mixed up with the bikie world, and had sucked her into it somehow through the betrayal. “That’s not my world. I’m not part of that”- her hands emphasising the abhorrence that she was experiencing from all of this. She was rushing home now, getting her stuff together, and getting in her car and leaving. It was hard not to feel sorry for her, whoever was at fault.
Her station arriving, I opened the door for her. As she left she turned back to face me again, embraced me and then kissed me desperately on the cheek. She then blessed me and left- my eyes misting rapidly as she disappeared into the rainy darkness outside.
I am not an angel.
But, as I sit amongst the grey faces on the train with me this morning, I wonder how many would do the same for me? There were others much closer to her in that carriage last night, and no one seemed to flinch, not even hesitate.
I am no angel.