shopping_vertical-1…that’s what she said to someone on the phone. I was in the wrong, I’ll admit it. I was being nosy yesterday in Whole Foods, sniffing pretty bars of soap stacked like bars of gold just before the deli case. A woman walked behind me pushing a half-full cart, her ear taped to the phone. “Girl, you’ll be fine. What time do you go in?” she was saying and I was all up in it, as if she was talking to me. I leaned away from the soap (peach colored, vaguely scented, the kind I would never buy because everybody knows pretty soap gives you a yeast infection) and leaned into her voice. I imagined her girlfriend on the other end of the line, wracked with fear over tomorrow’s appendectomy,  a bag of Doritos throttled by her sweaty hand. I pictured her Aunt Barbara picking her up at 5am and getting her to Holy Cross in time for the pre-surgery prep. She’ll quote a few scriptures as she drives down 395 while gospel music wafts across the windshield, only her wig feeling secure. Her niece will not be comforted.  Her thoughts will save her, veering back to yesterday when her girlfriend’s voice sang like syrup through her phone: “you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine, yes you will.” And that, my friend, is the universal desire; to be soothed. To know that through it all and against all odds, through the break up, the radiation, the root canal (well, maybe not the root canal) the rumor, the beatdown, the diagnosis, the cystic acne, the loud fart in class, the sprained ankle, the divorce, the funeral, that we’ll emerge okay, well and whole.  Without those words, without that support, we feel unmored. Unloved. Profoundly alone. Disconnected and scared as hell. I’ve been there, inconsolable and unresponsive. For instance: it’s almost impossible to get me on a plane. No matter what my friends say, I will drive to Oregon to avoid flying. I guess that’s why grocery store woman’s words spoke so loudly to me. When she pulled up behind me in checkout, I gave her a little smile to let her know I’d heard her and had connected with her words. To silently thank her for giving love to a friend. She didn’t smile back but that’s okay. She had a job to do and so do I: to remember her voice and how it had brought out the human in me. To pass on that sense of “touch” with which she annointed her friend and to hear my loved ones when they try to comfort me. To let them in and to at least try to allow them to convince me that as bad as things look, I will pull through. I won’t die on the plane. I will land, safe and sound. So repeat after me, Beautiful: I WILL BE FINE. I WILL MAKE IT, JUST LIKE BEFORE. THINGS WILL TURN OUT RIGHT. I’M OKAY. THIS WILL NOT KILL ME. ALL IS WELL. I WILL NOT DROWN, I KNOW HOW TO SWIM. I AM SAFE. I WILL BE FINE. I CAN DO THIS. I WILL BE FINE. And let’s both try to believe.
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