Well, I figured it was about time that I make my obligatory Christmas post. My bride tells me I am the consummate procrastinator, or was that instigator — never mind, you get my point. As you may remember, I was in Europe back in October and it was during this trip that a particularly poignant message entered and then began relentlessly echoing about in my mind.
The Saturday morning that I began my return trip home was a pleasant morning, all things considered. Whenever beginning a multi-legged bit of travel I enter into what I will call a zone. While not mindless, there is a certain absence of the “here and now”. I realize that a commuting stub-of-the-toe could mean a serious delay in arriving home. The zone affords me a state of mind that avoids a great deal of worry and anxiety.
I make it to the train station in Mons BE with almost 20 minutes to spare. I take a seat on my bag and wait. I have never taken a high speed train before so I allow myself a little excitement. After all, I am early. I take my seat on the train and before long we are moving, but not all that fast. However, after we are clear of the urban area we go, and go fast, and so smooth…
I arrive in north Paris where I must connect with the train to
Charles de Gaulle Airport. It is on this particular train that the message that placed a headlock on my spare thoughts right on through Thanksgiving, Christmas and into the New Year takes hold. I enter the train and place my bag on the floor between my legs and let out an ever so slight sigh. Another leg of the journey ends uneventfully and another begins. The doors close and we are about to pull out when I hear a small, but sincere voice, “mesdames et messieurs, pour vous.” She is slight in stature and very Mediterranean in appearance including a hijab (sp?). I look at her as she places her satchel on the floor in front of where she stands. It is precisely now that I think a thought; a thought that I am not very proud of; a thought that startles me from my zone. This thought I think is — I am about to blow up.
The doors are closed and locked and the train begins to move; excape is futile. Then she begins. It is a haunting song with dark vocals. A couple of verses into the moment and I now think I am not going to blow up. The embarrassment is real and is not a result of having such a silly thought, but rather of so mindlessly jumping to an unfounded conclusion and so quickly falling prey to such fear.
Now I must tell you that my conversational French is barely enough to keep me fed and off the streets at night. Regardless, I am gripped by her song. I pick up on what I think is a story about a mother and her small child. The haunting melody and her soulful voice; this woman has experienced the loss a child. It was so real. She garnishes a small sum from the riders and exits at the next stop and there I sit, effected.
For me this Christmas was very much a matter of celebrating a real child being born to a real mother who will eventually experience a real loss and here I sit, effected.