Stopping in the middle

I cannot thank you enough for being there and hanging in there with me and my family this entire time. I am back to ask for prayers and positive thoughts for my chemo session this week, and to thank you for all you do to take care of our family.

For today, just a little story from the week:

The other day, I was stopped at an intersection. If you know the Porter Square area, I was stopped on Upland Road where it meets Mass Ave, facing the T station. If you don’t know the Porter Square area, picture a busy intersection crowded with businesses as well as cars, bikes, scooters, pedestrians, dogs…and everyone generally moves seamlessly.

As I sat in my car, first at the light, a 50-something year old woman started to cross in the intersection in front of me. About halfway through the intersection, directly in front of my car, she abruptly stopped walking and looked down at her cellphone. At first, I assumed she was reading a text, but after awhile, I thought maybe she was looking at a map. No problem – I had a red light and wasn’t going anywhere. I watched her with interest. She stood so very still.

Eventually, the light turned green. But she was still standing there, staring at her phone, almost in a daze. I could have driven around her, but there wasn’t much room and that risked startling her. The cars behind me started honking but I was close enough to talk with her.

“You need to get out of the street.”

She looked up at me but didn’t move her feet.

“You need to go to one side or the other.” I also pointed, because I wasn’t sure she understood English.

She scurried back to the corner and we all moved on.

Her actions (or, non-actions) really struck me. On the surface, it seemed like a stupid move to stop in the middle of the street. But I know people who would stop like that if they were lost, or if they got bad news in a text, or if something else suddenly took them out of their physical reality.

It’s hard to know what is going on in someone’s life. Thank you for trying to understand ours, and for giving the leeway for all the unusual behaviors that can surface that may not feel as stupid as they look from the outside.

6 thoughts on “Stopping in the middle

  1. Good luck today!  I know you will feel better having your Mom there.  One of my former students, a psychologist, called his mother one day and said, “I know that I’m a grown man but  I’m at home sick today and I want my Mom.”  We all have those days.Much love, Aunt Joey

  2. Marie,
    I was having similar thoughts (in a less precarious place!) yesterday at Dana Farber. An elderly couple, sitting at the table in the dining pavilion, one head down on the flat surface of the shiny white table, one set of shoulders slumped, chin tucked, face in agony.
    My mom and I pondered what they were going through for minutes. Exhaustion? Extremely bad news? A death?
    All I knew was that I wanted to go over and give them both enormous hugs.
    I send you enormous (yet gentle!) hugs for your next round of chemo, and healing energy for your in-between times…..
    May you feel great!

  3. Amazingly enough a very similar thing happened to me last week as I pulled in to a very busy shopping center parking lot. As soon as I turned off the street into the lot an OLD woman came slowly out of the bank – the first building you encounter – and crossed in front of me. No problem. Moved kinda slow but it was nice watching her. She should have been off the road and not running errands probably ten years ago. But as soon as she finished crossing and I was about to move the oldest walking man I have ever observed took his first VERY SLOW and VERY deliberate step off the sidewalk into the crosswalk. This gentlemen should have been staying in the house at least 20 years ago. His wife obviously tired of his pace a LONG time ago. She got in the car and began her 10,000th wait. I marveled at his walk. I loved sitting there patiently watching and relished ever step. Amazingly enough NO one approached the same crosswalk at this busy time of the day. It was like a private encounter with an angel. I probably should have got out and accompanied the man but my approach and chattering and jabbering would have caused more distraction than help. Thanks for sharing your post Marie and God Bless you today.

  4. There is a meditation I’m trying to recall – that I try to remind myself of every time I catch myself watching someone and thinking “Why can’t they just…?!?” It goes something like “Be patient with the young, the old, the slow and the confused, for you have been or will someday be all of these.” Thank you again (as always!) for this reminder to be kind, and to reach out to the humanity in strangers.

  5. Dear Marie
    You are so grounded in the moment that you notice so many things around you and express courage and empathy in so many of these situations. It teaches us all to live in the moment and try and be present more for everyone.

    Wishing you ease comfort and peace today for chemo and this week.

    With love Steph

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