“Do you mind if I sit here?” Asked the women in a bright purple shirt with shoulder blond hair and brown, doe eyes.
I’m seated at the Whole Foods dining area reading my book, enjoying my coffee and small salad while taking in an invigorating, sunny spring day.
Earlier she was in front of me at the grocery check-out line. Her legs appeared to bother her. After paying the cashier, she shuffled off to the side when she glanced toward me: “Go ahead,” she called out while fumbling with her purse. The women seemed to struggle not only physically, but mentally; distracted and distraught at the same time.
“Yes, of course,” I said, gesturing towards the seat as I move my purse to give her some space.
The woman sat on the corner of the weathered picnic table and heaved a sigh. A nearby raven cawed and a gentle breeze caressed my skin as the two of us ate in silence.
The woman was staring out out into the parking lot when she blurted out:
“I just put down my dog,” she said, her voice cracked. “Man, it’s been really hard.”
Oh, I’m so sorry,” I replied, knowing how difficult it was to lose a family member.
“It’s only been a week, but for some reason these past few days have been the hardest,” the woman said, staring off into the distance.
“I completely understand. I’ve been there.”
The woman went on to share about her four legged family member named Apollo: a handsome golden retriever who was thirteen years of age and was a gallant, loving and brave Soul to the very end.
“I still feel him around me. I mean, I go on the same walks that we use to go on together and I know this may seem strange, but I feel his presence all around me,” she said. I nod in agreement. “Perhaps he is.”
She looked over, waiting for me to go on.
“We are all made up of energy and Einstein took this concept even further with the discovery that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change from one form to another,” I said, leaning towards her. “So, perhaps Apollo isn’t gone per se, but has merely changed form.”
The woman considers this “Yes, I believe that is the case.” She grinned and asked, “Are you in the health profession? I ask because you have a really beautiful energy about you.”
“I’m a Reiki Master and a writer,” I replied.
“Oh that makes perfect sense. You have such a peaceful, calming way about you.”
The woman introduced herself. Maria is her name and she worked in the healthcare industry assisting the elderly. She was also a singer and songwriter; singing on demos, as a backup singer for various artists and sometimes performed at local coffeehouses.
She burst into laughter when she recounted stories of her stoic Apollo; how she sang to him and he would serenaded back to her in his baritone howls. Maria shared how Apollo helped her enjoy each moment, and how he reminded her to be more present each day. Simple things Maria had now come to treasure, the shade of a grand tree, the soft grass under her feet, the warmth of the sun on her skin and Apollo’s companionship.
We talked for nearly an hour where Maria revealed she doesn’t have any family nearby and Apollo was her family. She thanked me for taking the time to speak with her.
“You know Stacy, I really appreciate you. You’ve helped me a great deal today,” She said, taking my hand. “I feel so much better.”
“It’s been lovely chatting with you, Maria. If you ever want to get a cup of coffee or chat, feel free to give me a ring,” I said.
I handed her my card and a broad grin envelopes her face. “Thank you, Stacy. I’ll do that,” she said, nodding.
I squeezed her hand when she rose from the bench. As she walked off, I could sense a lightness within her being as strode through the parking lot.
Vulnerability and Connection
We all need support and this need can show up in various ways; whether it’s sharing a painful experience or certain life challenges that may be troubling us.
It’s easy to get caught up in our “other worlds” such as the ones on social media and even in our daily lives; however, even if these aspects are a part of our current reality, what is truly real is our vulnerability as human beings.
Our vulnerability is authentic, it’s what connects us as human beings. It takes great courage to show our real self; warts and all, whether it’s during a time of grieving, our struggles or our shadow side that we may abhor and want to push it away.
Yet, in facing our fears and being vulnerable, we free ourselves from the burden of the belief we are alone in our struggle.
Once we reveal our vulnerability, we can find comfort in others who support and lift us up, who can empathize and offer us compassion, kindness and encouragement. We can honor ourselves and our authenticity by allowing to be who we are with judgment or
I think about Maria and Apollo and I’m touched by how brave she was in sharing her grief and struggles with a complete stranger. In Maria’s sharing, we were both transformed and better for it. Our connection and vulnerability brought relief, while also empowering both of us.
Maria and Apollo’s names are also significant: Maria is the latin form of Mary, the blessed Mother in Christianity. Some of the qualities associated with her are faith, perseverance, compassion and unconditional love.
Apollo is the sun god of ancient Greece; a powerful deity who is also the god of music, light, medicine and healing. I find it interesting that Maria and the spirit of Apollo came to me just before the Easter holiday. They are both gentle reminders to me on what it means to be authentic. When we are real and vulnerable, we are at our most powerful.
During this holiday weekend, let us remember and come together in our humanity. Let us have the courage to reach out to others even if it’s a simple “hello” or to pay a compliment to a stranger.
May kindness and empathy lead the way to a deeper connection for a better understanding of each other and our connection to each other through our humanity.
With a deeper connection to ourselves and each other an inner peace fills us; creating a luminosity within and as a result, we transform. Thus, a rebirth begins as we rise and awaken to the divine within us all.
Peace and richest blessings,