A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.
The Man: John
As we walk the dogs through the park I think, “What is the use? I can’t make this any better, no matter how hard I try! “Ally stays stoic, my rock, but I know that she is hurting too as we glance simultaneously at the old woman. She faces me and pulls me in and I smell the warmth of her skin and the sweetness of her breath upon my shoulder. How does she do this, bringing immediate peace within that hug? She just holds me, like mom used to do and I don’t care if the little old lady sees me crying. I just cry and hold on tight releasing the pain. The ache is so deep and so new! The wound opens up again although I thought that I had buried it along with her. I guess I was wrong.
My mother will never see our little one growing inside Ally. It is so wrong! She was so young! I remember how excited she was the day we told her about the baby. She would finally become a grandmother and this child would be mine. I was the one who was never going to go down that road but that all changed with Ally. Mum knew it! She was so excited and a bit worried too. I just never understood.
The last time we spoke, angry words and those of worry were expressed but I didn’t listen. “Shouldn’t there have been a sign?”
Words were left unspoken. She was there and then she was gone. There was no time to think or respond in any other way than with pure heart wrenching agony. I miss her so!
We part and keep walking, the dogs nudging us along. The woman continues to knit on the bench. She looks up as we pass and in that moment, we all are one, a secret smile passing between in a fleeting moment.
The Woman: Ally
“John is usually so strong and since his mum died, everything has changed!” she thinks as she walks beside the man she loves. “He is so lost without her.”
I turn and pull him towards me and all I can do is hold on. As he releases all that tension, I feel his shoulders drop and lose the rigidity that is evident in his posture. I look over his shoulder and I watch the woman knitting. She gazes up at me and gives me a soft sad smile, then turns away looking down at her work and continuing. I see the teardrop fall upon the wool she so lovingly creates.
John doesn’t see this and I know that if he had, a conversation would have passed between them. There was a connection somehow and I think perhaps, “Maybe his mother is there on that bench right now, watching on. Silly, I guess.”
John’s mum never would have knit. It wasn’t her style. She would however strike up a conversation with just about everyone she came upon. She would bring a smile to their face even on the dreariest of days and that is why I could see her there with that old woman brightening her day. She would have boasted about the baby coming and that she “Finally” was becoming a grandma! “It is so unfair that she will not get the chance! She lived balanced and fair and she had to be struck down too early, and after that fight!”Ally stopped this thought abruptly as her thoughts returned to John.
“Would he be ok? Would he return to his fun loving self and be more self- assured? It certainly wasn’t his fault!”
These thoughts filled her head as she held him and felt the wind pick up in his sails. She said nothing. The dogs nudged them on and as they pass the woman, she looks up and a secret smile passes over her lips.
Old Woman: unnamed
I look up from my knitting and I look into the eyes of the man as he approaches. There is something in his sadness that touches me and I feel as though I know him. He looks through me as his eyes rest on the knitting I will likely never finish. He begins to cry. I turn away, pretending not to notice. “What could it be, that brings such tears on a walk?”
I revert my gaze to the little dogs. The pair faces each other and embrace. I feel like I am an intruder and yet I feel connected.
“I was young once too, but that was long ago.”
I stop my work and look up and catch the woman’s eye. The moment is so private and yet I feel as though I am one with the couple. I see her bump and look back at my little red sweater and the tears begin for me. My tiny precious grandchild will not wear this as I had planned as they told me that they “lost” her. “How can you “lose” a baby?” The kids these days speak so differently and block their pain so easily. Perhaps that is why this couple touches my soul.
“Should I pass the sweater on to them? No, that would be intruding. I do not even know them! I will go back to minding my own business.”
As the couple walks by, their eyes meet mine and the smile I give is one of understanding and hope. We are one in that moment in the blink of an eye.