There I was, slowly rolling my Prius through the suburban shopping center, sucking on my “thank-god-it’s-Friday” double tall latte. Running errands, feeling worse than I had hoped, still brain-fogged from my week battling back an annoying virus. A white-haired older woman stepped out from Staples, a stack of papers clutched to her chest. I recognized her immediately. She was Marie, one of my beloved seniors from my YogaStretch class. I hadn’t seen her in well over a year and I figured she wouldn’t recognize me as I stopped to let her cross the street. As soon as she stepped off the curb, however, our eyes met and her face brightened like the sun. There, in the middle of the street in this busy suburban shopping center, spry but eighty-something Marie nearly sprinted over to my car. Smiling broadly, I rolled down my window and she leaned in to give me a tight, warm hug as I kissed her cheek. She told me of her dear husband, now nearing the end of his life.
“I’m so tired,” she sighed, as she has been his caretaker during his long illness. “It’s time.”
In her arms she clutched the sheet music for “Carousel.”
“Oh, how I love Richard Rogers,” she confessed, speaking of the composer. “So talented and clever.”
In the prime of her life, Marie had been a professional violist in New York City. A beautiful, smart and gracious woman, she and I had connected over our shared love of music. I had burned CD’s of the music I would play in my yoga classes for her. I loved watching her in class as she closed her eyes and tilted her head slightly, obviously immersed more in the music than the yoga.
Sometimes we find our soul sisters in the most unexpected places.
Today, Marie’s eyes sparkled as she told me how her husband once starred in the stage show of “Carousel” in New York. She was a violist in the orchestra pit, their daughter, a violinist, performing with them, a true family affair. She talked about what a wonderful time in her life that was. Marie looked down at the music she held and laughed about how old it looked.
“More like well-loved,” I told her.
“I decided I would play ‘Carousel’ for my husband for Valentine’s Day this year. I thought it would be such a nice thing to do for him. I know he would like it.” Marie said, deliberately not saying what we both understood: That this would most likely be their last Valentine’s Day together.
And there we were. In the middle of the street in a busy suburban shopping center. A beautiful white-haired eighty-something woman, in the midst of walking through a most difficult life transition, leaning in to hug me, her yoga teacher, in my car. Traffic politely diverting around us, almost as though they sensed enough not to honk or be too annoyed with this odd and inconvenient reunion.
We could have talked forever, because soul sisters are like that. But instead she stroked my hair and said she would be on her way. I told her to come back to yoga soon and to be careful crossing the rest of the street. Marie looked at me and smiled, not unlike the way I remember my own mom smiling at me.
“You are my good omen!” she declared, just as she turned to leave.
I hope she knows she is that for me, too. That, and so very much more.
Marie, this is for you: