Strangers on a Train

While taking the train to visit my family  for the holidays I met a very sweet lady. She was  short , rotund with hair whiter than snow.  Her cheeks were pinks were cherry blossom pink.   And her face , sweet as cherry  pie.   The light reflecting off her   bright white hair glowed creating the illusion that there was a  halo around her head. She sat across from me in the dining room  me during lunch. We bit into our stale rubbery hamburgers in silence, while watching cows grazing the bright green rolling hills of Salinas.   “This is the worst hamburger I ‘ve ever had”, I said,  ” Almost as bad as my mother in law’s cooking” she replied.  “I’m Sandra|” she said as she extended her hand.   I grabbed her hand which was full of gentle warmth.   This was a warm hearted woman, no doubt. “I’m Alex.” I replied. Than the point of ignition of our encounter.  I posed the question, the type of question people usually brush off or dismiss.  “Tell me something about you?”  I asked her.  Her eyes became glossy. She set down her fork and knife and told me this story that I will never forget .  Sandra married her high school sweetheart. They were happily married, and had two adorable daughters Amy and Vivian. They had above average IQS, very well behaved, and excelled in sports and the arts. They were big time over achievers and both in college.  Seven  years later she had a son , Samuel who Sandra , as hard as she tried, could not bond.. He was defiant,  detached, rebellious, and reckless.  Sandra did not know how to handler her son, so she instructed her two older daughters and her husband to manage him.   For 12 years, she kept her distance from Samuel, they barely conversed, and he was so embittered by their relationship that he would not eat any  food his mother cooked.  The hostility and rejection  Sandra had towards her son was repressed. She retained a cold distance from him. She was so determined to never have children again that she ordered her husband to have a vasectomy.  For extra measure , she had a tubal ligation   But one day, at the age of thirteen her son Sam, died. He was hit by a school bus.  Many eye witnesses claimed that  Samuel ran in front of the bus, and  that it was suicide. Sandra had a break down. So bad, she refused to leave her house for weeks,  Several weeks went by when she went in to have her surgical procedure reversed. When she asked her husband to have his vasectomy reversed , he put on his oversized fleece lined denim jacket and bolted out the door. He went to the park where he and his son would often play football , and shot himself.  Sandra was devastated.  Her daughters did everything they could to lift their mother from the nadir of despair.  But they could do nothing to relieve her from her guilt , pain, or  despair.  Every night Sandra would go to church and pray, not just pray , but plead with God for another chance to mother a son.  She became weak and sickened by  her guilt.  She refused to eat, and was eventually hospitalized.   One day her new nurse Nestor arrived, and he noticed the thirty plus photos of Samuel around her hospital bed.  He was extra gentle in his care for Sandra. He instantly recognized that this was a woman in severe pain.  Nestor  would even come in on  his his day off  to push Sandra in the wheel  chair to the  chapel where she continued to pray every single day and night  , asking God for just one more chance to have a son.  When Sandra was released from the hospital , Nestor continued to visit her and they began dating.  A year later they married.  And guess what, she became pregnant, and had a baby boy.  Her son Nestor, Junior  was born on the two year anniversary of Samuel’s death.   “Next stop San Jose” shouted the train conductor.   I just stared into Sandra’s eyes.   What I saw in her eyes was  happiness, but also a narrow  dark streak of pain mixed with guilt, than suddenly her eyes filled with strength and resolve . ” I need to pull myself together”  Thank you for listening to my story. ” she said humbly as she handed me a mini box of Sees candy.    When I got off the train, I saw Sandra. Her son Nestor picked her up off the ground as if she was lighter in weight than a feather. He spun her around as if there was no tomorrow.  Their  joyful laughter pierced the cold air, and everyone stared at them with huge smiles. They were a vortex of perfect happiness.   Nestor finally released Sandra and gently placed her onto the cold pavement. Sandra noticed my stare. She winked at me and said  ” Merry Christmas, and love your family, not just on Christmas.but every day.”   I nodded my head flashed her a smile  and headed off to baggage claim. While waiting for my baggage, I texted my mom . “Mom, I”m home for Christmas”.

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