Yesterday I sat at a round table with eight women. A fresh breeze from the passage eventually soothed away the humidity. A few nights earlier I had sat on a yoga hall floor with a different group of women, once again in the circular formation for the sharing of wine and food. It’s no surprise that when women gather they share more than food and drink. In every culture, women give to each other their words, knowledge and wisdom. As a writer I am fascinated by the stories of women, humbled by their open and generous sharing and privileged when I am granted the gift of writing them.
At the lunch table diversity was present in age, country of birth, where we lived and worked, our interests and most importantly our families. Salads, fish and calamari were served, the standard single wine of mindful drivers was enjoyed and the talk was relaxed, funny and good natured. I had the pleasure of being consciously present and was awed at the beauty of sparkling eyes in soft, rounder faces. I saw hands that bore the years of holding children, working hands that had spent time in the doing of life. Pretty dresses and happy mouths – a seat at this table felt like a gift for no reason at all.
A beautiful thing happened at this table yesterday. I leaned a little further back in my chair as I became aware of the excruciating nature of the narrative. It felt important and respectful to add a tiny private distance as I observed the four women who had walked and would forever be living through the loss of a husband – experiencing a welcome but unwanted connection.
They did not reach across the table and hold each other’s hands. They did not wrap knowing arms around each other and lean in with shared understanding. While they did not openly do these physical gestures, as I heard their words and witnessed this exquisite emotional connection reaching across and through these four women – I deeply felt invisible healing hands and helping arms folding them together, if only for a sweet moment.
At vastly different places on the journey of life that bluntly arrives whether wanted or not after such great loss, I watched in awe as they smiled, laughed, ate, drank, talked, exchanged, personified strength and elegance and to steal a quote – were up for rising to the occasion and “getting their grip.”