She sat in the coffee shop, her heart full to bursting with unnamed terror. Her being effected, by an unconscious desire for escape.
She imagined her child self-dreamily walking down St Marks Avenue in Brooklyn. This child walked slowly down the street and as she walked, noticed a small stray dog, a short haired terrier, sniffling its way a few paces ahead of her. The dream child approached the dog , who wagged his tail and showed pleasure at this attention. She extended her hand, allowing the dog to sniff and then lick it. She knelt down on the side walk to pet the dog and the dog, delighted, jumped in to the child’s embrace. She enjoyed the wiggle of his doggy body – his warmth and his happy yelping. The child smiled, “I have found a friend,” she thought. This doggy likes me. She was happy – this dream child, was happy.
Happy in a way not found in the real child life of the woman. She felt the tears escape her closed eyes. She milked with all of her might every drop of peace – from this moment of an imagined child hood . It was a challenge to do this – to experience emotions she has only read about in books – or seen in films, but she did her best. She imagined to the point of exhaustion what it might feel to be happy, happy in the moment, unafraid and joyful ; to have made a friend on a Brooklyn street.
She immersed every cell of her being into the healing sweetness of the scene. She sucked the marrow of this imagined goodness and allowed it to feed her. She opened her eyes slowly and looked out of the window reached for a napkin to dry her eyes.
The waitress approached her.
“You, ok hun?” she inquired with compassion.
She looked into those kind eyes and decided to be truthful.
“No, “she said ,” tears still flowing, “I believe that this might just be – one of the worst days of my life.”
“I am sorry, hun,” She patted her hand. “I am so sorry.”
“Thank you,” she said softly. She gazed again out of the window, so grateful for this human moment – this kindness in the moment. In real time.
“Did you every notice, “she asked the waitress, “that you hardly ever see stray dogs on the street anymore?”
“What do you mean, hun?” asked the waitress as a puzzled look played across her face.
“I mean, when I was a child, I remember every one in a while encountering a dog, on it’s own, on the street. Now I never do.”
“Yyou know, “ the waitress said , “You are right – I guess animal control snaps them right up now.” The waitress patted her hand again. “how would you like a pie of pie?”, She said, “on the house”, with a conspiratorial wink.
The woman’s first impulse was to decline – as she avoided sugar as a general rule. But in an instant she knew it would be rude, not to mention ungrateful to God to decline this offer of kindness. This sweet woman and her gift of sweetness, was how her prayer was being answered today. “Yes, “ she said to the waitress. “Thank you very much.”
“No problem, hun. We all need a free slice of pie from time to time.” She smiled warmly.
The woman returned the smile saying, “yes, dear – we do.”
The waitress again gave her hand a pat, then turned to get the pie.