I heard a woman crying in the airport bathroom



Manon Gauthier, illustrator. 
Portrait: Elinore et l'oiseau (Elinore and the bird)


I watch people. I sometimes write about these experiences. I share what I see, think, and feel. And what I learn. 

Karen Casey says in her book Cultivating Hope, “Every person is holy, every encounter is holy.” I believe that. Especially after this: 

Early Friday morning my husband and I are at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. We'll fly to South Bend, Indiana. We pass through security at 6:00 a.m. Terry says, “Let’s get our coffee,” and I say I'm going to the bathroom. He motions me to come his way, and I say, “I’ll meet you.” 

I go into the ladies room. It's empty, I think. Then I hear a woman crying and say, “How will I make it?” I wait for her to come out of the stall and ask, “May I help you?”

She falls into my arms and says in between sobs that her son died in a car accident last night. She arrived from Denver at 2 a.m. with an intention to visit SMU in Dallas with another son. The call came at 4 a.m. Her husband and daughter are also heading back to their home in Denver from other places. 

I say that I've had that experience (my son died unexpectedly 7 years ago and I flew from Ohio where I lived to Florida hours after the news). I held the woman as she wept. 


After about five minutes, we let go of our embrace and look into each others' eyes. Wordless. Then she walks out. 


I don’t know her name.

I'll never forget her.

I’ve thought about this encounter since then. And, I’ve had memories of those first hours and days after my son died. 

I recall that my daughter's girlfriend flew from Los Angeles to his memorial. This friend's daughter died 5 years earlier. I remember looking at this friend with disbelief, watching her smile and laugh. I thought, “She’s been through the loss of a child and she is living her day as if it is normal.” I knew if she could survive and thrive, I could. 


I hope this awareness arose in the woman I encountered on Friday.

I'm also thinking about the concept of synchronicity (first described by Carl Jung, 1920s), the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally related or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced together in a meaningful manner. 

Meaningfully related. Aligned. 


Like Jung, I'm mesmerized by the idea that life is not a series of random events, but rather an expression of a deeper order.