Sunday, July 23, 2017

Common Face

Common Face
By: Kelli J Gavin

I have often said that I have what is called a common face. But, as I grow older, this "common face" thing has grown into something more, something different. People think that I am familiar to them, they know me, yet can not place me. This happens often, turns into interesting or uncomfortable situations, and people often disclose memories of days gone by, hurts that have never healed and joys that they wish to pass on. I have been able to turn many of these awkward conversations around into something utterly fantastic.

If I feel comfortable enough, I will now ask if there is something they would like to share with me. Whether it is the woman in the checkout lane at Target who swears I am young version of her mother whom she so deeply misses, or the man at the hardware store who admits it was a little weird that he was staring so long, but he just couldn't place me. I have heard stories of lost loves, auto accidents, vacations ingrained forever on the hearts and mind of the memory keeper, lost yet found objects, and lonely souls who just wish to connect with someone, anyone. I am often questioned about my faith, and where my smile, joy, and hope come from.

Once, a woman in her older 60s or early 70s stated the most profound thing to me when I asked if there was something she would like to share. "It is hard for me to sell all of my grandchildren's things. Their clothes and shoes, their toys and books, and their baby things. They aren't young anymore. They don't need me anymore. They don't appreciate our time together reading or in the kitchen. They don't like spending time with me like they once did. I guess it hurts. I have been sitting here all day fighting off tears. Wallowing in this. Thank you for letting me share. And not being scared off by my tears."

Sometimes, like that day, I just let people talk. I let people cry and hug them and thank them. I didn't offer any words of wisdom (I don't have any in a case like this) and I only offered a hug, my first name and statement of faith and comfort during this time that she is actually experiencing a loss. She then said, "I am glad you came along. And look, you aren't buying anything. Thank you. I just want to thank you."

If only she knew that I benefitted more from our conversation more than she did.

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