Confessions of an impromptu lunch companion

Moments with Strangers

  • Trigger Warning* — Gun violence.

As a small kid she’d watched her mom shoot and kill her father. He was terribly violent towards them growing up.

The police declared it was self defense.

Her mom never spoke of it again. Later growing up, if she’d ask about it, her mom would insist that her father had moved away and left them, ignoring that her daughter was in the room when it happened.

Her mom was never the same.

As far as she knew, her mom held it in her whole life. After the police came and the Father from her church came and gave a blessing, after she cleaned the blood of her own crime scene, she never talked about it again.

Her tone was calm; she was relaxed telling this story. More than seventy years had passed since the incident. She turned to me and reached across the table, putting her hand on mine,

“You have to stay cool and collected if you want to be heard. And you’re too young to have such sad eyes.” With a smile she got up and walked away.

I couldn’t remember how we’d gotten there, to that moment, to that confession.

Our chat started innocently enough. I’d asked if I might join her, every other table was full.

We sat, we ate, we talked, we laughed. I stayed much longer for lunch than I was planning, her company that enjoyable. I let my guard down. It got really real.

Then she left. And I was alone.

Gob smacked and a little disoriented, I sat there, processing what had happened. An older woman I’d just met looked inside me and I let her. She’d seen more of my soft, gooey, inside-feelings than I’d intended to display.

I sat there trying to convince myself that wasn’t bad.

I’ve been thinking about her for the past few weeks; less because of her story, but more because of how she owned her life experience.

She was the badass in pastels, hiding behind short white hair and a wry kind of smile, paying more attention than any of us are probably comfortable with. She’d let you sit with her if you asked, quietly dispensing wisdom and relishing in the invisibility cloak of old age.