It was an early morning start, unusually brisk for Phoenix. On my way to the office, I stopped at Starbucks for English Breakfast Tea which I often drink with a dollop of cream when I'm thinking of Elisabeth.
As I was mixing my concoction of stevia and cream, a man came up behind me.
"Nice art," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."
"Hmmm..." I said silently to myself. "What art? Is he talking to me?"
So I looked at him, nonplussed.
Then, I remembered that my hair, pulled back in a ponytail with a racer back, black organic cotton dress, allowed my very large back tattoo to be mostly visible.
"Oh, thanks much," I said.
I smiled and turned back toward the tea which reminded me of my Beloved Elisabeth and our many tea moments together.
As if possessed by a puppeteer, and against my innately shy nature which certainly keeps me less vulnerable to a sometimes cruel and unmindful-of-the-bereaved world, I said to him as he was turning away, "It's an excerpt from Dark Night of the Soul. St John of the Cross."
"Oh," he replied, unmoved by my disclosure.
I smiled. He smiled back. I started to turn again, and for reasons I cannot explain- as this is utterly uncharacteristic of me, and I'd never before disclosed this to a stranger, I actually said, "I got it for my daughter. She died." I waited. Paused. As if surprised by my own utterances.
"The tattoo was done with her ashes."
He looked at me. Straight into my eyes. Neither of us moved for what seemed like many minutes.
And his eyes started to fill with tears. I could see it.
Mine did too.
Then he whispered, "I lost my son."
And in the space between two strangers, a person who I will likely never see again, there was a knowing, an ineffable moment of knowing.
We both walked away from our moment in the Sun together. And my day was transformed.
Some English Breakfast with plenty of room for cream and tears, please?