We collect in our solitude in the hope of connection. Grief, by its very nature, separates. Yet, there is a desire in my emptiness to find another that can fill me with theirs.

Benjamin April 20 Cofee cupI am fragmented by loss and looking for what is gone and what is left. I walk my sorrow on a path looking for my remains. Then, I see another on the same path.

I rest in coffee shops alongside the remains of another. We meet with an understanding. We know what it is like to not sleep for fear of nightmares, to not eat because there is no fear left, just numbness. We know what it is like to sorrow and I can share what sits within me as I sit beside another who knows.

She knows when I stare into my coffee what I am staring into. I’m looking at a life that is forever altered. I am looking at days gone and the shroud of sorrow that is left. I am looking for answers to unanswerable questions. And sometimes, I’m just looking, looking into the dark coffee that reflects an image that I no longer recognize.

I used to be someone else. I used to be a husband. I used to be I father. I used to be….

Now I am utterly alone sitting with someone that is utterly alone. We grieve together in our aloneness. We share our different losses in the same under the same shroud.

We use words that are more like echo chambers that drift ultimately into silence. It is the look in the eyes that tell us we have run out of words. And the slight smile that shares us in knowing we sit in a world beyond words.

Benjamin April 20 I'm not the only oneWe exchange pictures of loved ones still living in love, but frozen in time. We account the lives that counted most to us. Laugh at funny scenes then cry at the same funny scenes that now are part of our oral history.

We speak so they will not be forgotten. In many ways, we speak to each other so we will not be forgotten. So I won’t forget me and the one I no longer recognize.

I have come to this coffee shop to meet a fellow sojourner of sorrow, but I did not come alone. I carry the ones I love everywhere. My emptiness is compounded by this massive collection of love that is invisible to the world around me. They simply cannot see what shapes me. And because the ones I love are invisible, I, too, feel I walk the streets, sit in coffee shops and linger in lines in invisibility.

It is only a naked eye that is as naked as me who can see me. It is only an eye that has been washed in the depths of sorrow that sees who I am not and does not compare me to who I once was. The one with whom I sit in this crowded coffee shop is the one that can penetrate the noise of the shop and find the silence we both hunger to share.

I walk alone, but sit with another. I cherish those times I can just stop and sit. I need to rest in the rhythm of another’s broken heart. Like a drumming circle that beats, we follow each other in unison. We know the sound of no words and we know the rhythm of sorrow.

Benjamin April 20 Just want to knowI need to feel my aloneness is not in vain. When I sit with another and they do not feel so all alone, we both find a sliver of meaning and hope for our healing. I am not the only one who cannot stop crying. I am not the only one who is terrified of walking out the door into a world that has turned strange and foreign. I am not the only one.

Loss left me feeling I was the only one, but love leads me to others. We sit together in our oneness and the illusion of separation dissolves in our commonality. I just wanted someone to know. If I could hear an echo, I would know. I would know I am not crazy. I would know these feelings are not just felt by me. I would know that someone knew.

I like to sit alone in coffee shops and watch the world go by. I also like to sit in coffee shops with others that know the world that will never go by, the world that is a part of us for the rest of us.

I like to share deep feeling and expansive thoughts with eyes that reflect mine. It is my respite from a solitary journey. Coffee shop conversations are where two very different worlds meet and the two of us meet beyond them both.

Benjamin April 20 aloneness


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