I sat on the bench like I usually do on Saturday mornings, the organ music was slow and quiet. I think that's why I like playing there; its just slow and quiet. I set the pace. I mostly keep my eye on the music for fear of messing up but I did notice a couple walk in. I had known them a few years ago, not well, but enough. Enough to notice each other and say Hi. I had heard recently that she had breast cancer. She's likely a good 10 years younger than me. Her red wig was striking, her eyebrows carefully in place and by all accounts, she made cancer look good.
I had the strangest feeling I've never had before. She has no idea, that somehow, I know all about her recent strife with cancer. I have heard how it struck, how she deals; I know more than a distant acquaintance like me should know. She is living this complicated, unfair, story that went off in a way she scarcely expected. For a moment, I felt like I was an extra in her 3rd act; the struggle. And, I wondered if she felt angry sometimes. I wondered if she was tired of the fight. I wondered if the wig was because she wanted to wear it or she had to wear it...part of the lies we tell ourselves that we are okay even though maybe we aren't. I wondered if she was okay.
And then, I wondered if I was okay? I wondered if she secretly knew my personal battle. If she felt the same obscure sorrow for me, that I feel for her?
And then, I looked around the room that was quiet and filled with a pretend peace. I mean it was real but inside the hearts of many who resided on the pews was something of 'otherness' mingled with peace. It was strange to see both, encompassing that moment.
It's not often we stop and see the complexities of those around us, how it straggles out behind them, around them, through them, even in and around us, the innocent bystander who wakes to see it happen.
And then, it was 11 and my time was done. I closed my book of music, and left that vivid moment behind. I left her to continue on with her story, without me but the sorrow remained all day and into the next.