| Words Unspoken |

Dear Stranger,

I want to look into those eyes and say: I know your pain, I know it well


Dear Stranger,

I passed you while on my power walk, figurative steam at my heels as I tried to beat my own record.

One glance as I passed was enough — you’ve been stuck in my mind, haunting me as I go about all the tasks that make up my day.

Your dog pattered behind you, small and timid, but my split-second gaze wasn’t drawn to him.

It was your cheekbones that caught me first, jutting out in stark relief under the pale orange of the streetlight; then the razor-sharp clavicles revealed by your skimpy T-shirt. Your skeletal hand clutched a bag of some sort, the shadows concealing its color.

And lastly, your eyes, massive and suspicious, meeting mine in a heartbeat of contact before you looked away, and walked on.

The moment, a hairsbreadth away from never having taken place, was gone. The impact, though, reverberated in my mind and pounded in my bloodstream as heart and lungs pumped furiously.

Never slowing my pace, as sweat beaded at my forehead and trickled down my back, I mentally retraced my steps.

Instead of my every step taking me further and further away from you, I want to walk in your direction once more. Instead of passing you by, I want to stop and wait until your chin lifts and your eyes ask me what my business is.

I want to look into those eyes and say: I know your pain, I know it well. Far away, a loved one of mine lives your pain, fights your battle daily. And I am powerless in the face of a monster that can rob a human being of their desire for sustenance. I can’t do anything for you, either.

I want to say — can I give you a hug? Even though I know that all the hugs in the world won’t help you, for your journey is dark and lonely, but for all those days that distance holds the tiniest of comforts at bay for my loved one, will you accept it in their stead?

I want to place my hand on the crag of your shoulder, the lightest of feather touches, and say, “I see you.”

I want to say, “Fight.” On all those days when the price for life seems too high, when giving up seems too easy, be a warrior. Forge ahead, every inch a victory.

I want to tell you that I pray for love to sustain you, to give you that strength to win over your demons.

I wish I could promise you that it will be okay, that one day in the future you’ll look back and marvel at how far you’ve come. But although that is my fervent wish for you, even the tiniest of promises is beyond my power to bestow upon you. I can only give you the wish itself.

There is so much more I want to say.

But I’m home already, unlacing my shoes and refilling my water bottle while you wander on in my mind, a lost soul.


The Lady on her Power Walk



(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 751)

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