The woman at the bus stop...
A few years back, while on my way to see my Doctor, I met a young woman at the bus stop. When I walked up to sit next to her while we waited, she seemed so warm and inviting. Very pleasant. Beautiful smile. Clear eyes. Open body language. We began to converse, sharing stories with one another about what we were doing, things we had going on, etc. The bus arrived, and I asked her if she would be getting on; she said no, so we acknowledged how nice it had been to meet one another, and I hopped onto the bus. It was funny because when I looked at the Driver, he looked a lot like a Friend of mine. And he was so happy to see me, almost as if we knew each other from somewhere.
A couple of weeks later, I had to go back to the same Doctor --- you see, my condition required multiple visits for an open-ended amount of time with this particular Physician. So I went back to the same bus stop. To my surprise, the same young woman was at the stop. She was very excited to see me, so excited that she actually hugged me. Most times I would have found that a little weird, but in this case, it just seemed right. I sat down, and we began running our mouths, just like the first time. But this time, I noticed a change in her. She seemed a little distant. Her conversation wasn’t as light this go ‘round. We didn’t share as many laughs. She shared some things with me that she hadn’t the last time. I mostly listened…chiming in here and there, but mostly listened. The bus finally showed up. I told her I had to go. This time I didn’t even ask if she would be joining me because I remembered the last time she was waiting for a different bus. We said our good-byes. I actually kissed her on the forehead --- random, right? She waved as I looked back at her. When I boarded the bus, it was a bit bizarre, but the Driver looked exactly like my Brother, and I told Him so. He chuckled and rushed me to my seat. Off we went.
This went on for years, as I would go to see my Physician, she would always be at the bus stop. We built a relationship; I’d even call it a friendship. We saw each other go through many milestones and life changes. We rooted for each other, shared endless laughs, and then sometimes we didn’t say much at all, just enjoyed one another’s company, until I had to leave for my appointment.
As I prepared to go to my next visit at the Doc’s office, I wondered if I would run into Her again, that same woman. And, just like before, there she sat. I began to smile at her, she smiled back. I noticed that she looked very tired. Her smile just wasn’t as bright. She had the same warm disposition, but I could tell something had changed in her. Like clockwork, we began our routine, chatting back and forth, but I could see that she was a tad off in a way, like she was all over the place. As I listened to her, I took her hand, not saying too much, just holding her hand. She told me how she remembered being a happy, energetic, involved, loving person, but over time, life ups and downs had made her sad, tired, not present, bitter, somewhat petty, at times just plain old silly, cold…and numb. I was a bit speechless and didn’t really know what to say to her. She told me secrets she had never shared with anyone, she poured out her heart to me. Through gallons and gallons of tears, she tried her best to explain to me what happened, what hadn’t happened, what she wanted to happen…and all of the reasons why. I became very wrapped up in not just what she was saying, but in her. I was worried about her, scared for her, confused for her, tired for her. I was afraid to leave her. After that day, she and I continued to just sit there. Whenever the bus would show up, I would just wave it away, instructing the Driver to just go ahead without me. I needed to stay with her. As time went on, we both started to look even more different, not only was she exhausted and overwhelmed , but so was I. Years and years and years had passed and both she and I were still sitting right there. I constantly listened to her and realized that at this point, she was just telling me the same things over and over again. Nothing new. Nothing had changed. We hadn’t gone anywhere, we were just sitting there. We began to get annoyed with one another. Many times we even argued. I was so mad at her for just staying there. And I was angry with myself for staying there with her. We both remained there… we had gotten so fed up with each other, that even though the both of us refused to move, we began to occupy opposite ends of the bench. We didn’t even really speak to one another anymore. I had lost my voice. Forgotten where I was even supposed to be going. Whatever condition I had been seeking my Physician on was surely out of control by now. And I hadn’t even noticed.
At that moment, after all of these years, it dawned on me that I had never even asked this young woman her name, nor told her mine. And I had no clue of where she was going. I turned to her, from my end of the bench and said, “Hey…this seems like a silly question, but after all of these years, what is your name?” She replied, “Charesse.” I was floored, and immediately thought she was joking. So I asked her again, “no really, what is your name?” With no greater emotion than before, she stared at me and said, “Charesse.” She then asked me, “What is your name?” I hesitated to respond, and while she kept looking at me with her big eyes, I finally did, “My name is Charesse too.” We began to laugh, somewhat uncontrollably. That was one of our “things”. Sharing the same name had brought us closer together again. After we got over the coincidence of both of our names being Charesse, I asked her, “So, exactly where are you trying to go?” She gave me a blank stare, then responded, “Nowhere”, and giggled. I was back to being annoyed, “See Charesse, you play too much! Where are you going?” She responded again, “Nowhere.” This time she didn’t giggle. She was very serious. It was at that moment that I realized she had given up. And in the midst of trying to stay there with her, I too had lost my focus, of having somewhere to go. I was looking down at the ground, trying to figure out what we had been doing all of this time, while we were just sitting there. I glanced over to her. Tears rolled from her eyes. No words. No sounds even. Just tears.
The bus arrived. This time the Driver looked just like my Physician, my Father even. When he opened the door, I stood up and made my way to the bus. She said “Where are you going?” I responded, “I don’t know Charesse. But I have to go somewhere. I can’t stay here with you. Come with me. “She never moved and inch. She just looked at me leave. As I stood on the steps of the bus, looking back at her, the Driver asked me, “Young Lady, are you going to get on or off. You must make a decision. Either you want to stay here with her, or you want to move forward and see what else life has to offer you.” I still hesitated. He clearly didn’t realize just how much I loved her. How close we had become. How we had been there for one another. How we had watched time go by together. I began to cry. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, just leave her there? As I continued pondering my decision, the Driver then said, “Charesse.” I was startled that he knew my name, so I looked up at Him with tears still in my eyes. He then said “Do you Love Yourself enough to Leave Yourself to Find Yourself?” I was puzzled, but intrigued. I began to wipe the tears from my eyes. He said to me, “Charesse…the young woman that’s been sitting on that bench going nowhere, that’s the old you. I know you care about her, but you can’t get to where I am taking you if you don’t leave her behind. You have to leave her right there. And this bus is changing its route. It’s never going to stop here again. So you have to leave her behind, so that I can get you to where you need to be.” I looked at Him and said, “But it’s been so long, I don’t even remember where I am going.” He replied, “That is ok My Child. You do not need to know. I know where I am taking you. I know the life that I want for you. I know what you deserve. All you have to do is trust Me. Do you Love Yourself enough to Leave Yourself to Find Yourself?” I looked back one last time. She still had tears in her eyes, but when I waved good-bye to Her, she, through her tears, waved back. She gave me the green light to move forward. To Love Myself enough to Leave the Old Me Behind to try and actually Find the New Me.
I am still on this journey, and from time to time, I think of the Old Charesse. I wonder how she’s doing. Is she still sitting at that bus stop, paralyzed with grief and anxiety, or has she moved on?
In the meantime, I’m moving on, to bigger and better things. I’m trusting the Driver; just going to stay on this bus and see where He takes me. Yes, at times I am still confused, and afraid, but the view from here is so much better than it was back there at that bus stop.
Imagine that! You get stuck at a bus stop, and end up going nowhere, while you were headed on a journey going somewhere!
I’ve taken my front row seat on this bus. My future awaits.