This morning I dreamed of an old memory–a woman I have long forgotten. At twenty-two years old, I watched over an elderly woman during her last month of life. She reminded me of my grandmother who died of cancer when I was nine. The morphine in my grandmother’s system made her irresponsive conversationally but not so much that she wasn’t present at all. My new friend acted just the same.
I was told to read the bible to this woman, comfort her, and be a presence. Our time together was brief but the peace of that woman was potent.
I wonder what significance if any I can gain from this memory except that if a person has the honor to grow old in any capacity, does what they believed differently from another matter so much that we would relish in that person’s death even if their belief was rooted in prejudice, anger, or fear?
One afternoon, years later in NYC, I sat in my favorite little cafe called Amy’s Bread and watched an older man struggle to eat his soup. His hands shook violently and it seemed he could barely get a sliver of a sip to his mouth. I wondered to myself,
“If I knew this man was evil, had committed some heinous crime, or hurt a child, would I still feel pity?”
My answer at that moment was yes. After some time passed I got up to leave and as I walked passed him, I felt this incredible urge to pray for him.
“Sir, may I pray for you?”
He shook his head yes.
I prayed in tongues, something that I hardly remembered doing in front of a stranger although I am sure he thought it was another language. I prayed love over his heart and many other words.
When I finished, he looked at me with tears, and with the strongest accent he said, “All I know to say is that I cried.”