She took my hand, and she held it for the next ten minutes. It was the closest physical contact I had had to such unabashed emotion in a long while. I didn't expect it. I was only acting on an impulse as a human being. In that moment, though, my friend Sharon melted my cold heart, and stirred my nurturing soul.
She is a beautiful person, my friend Sharon. This little episode with her is one in a series I've had since she joined the team of Universal tour guides. It is rare in life to meet truly selfless people, especially in the entertainment industry, but Sharon is certainly one member of that elite club. In the time I've known her, she has become a close confidant. We bonded through our similar senses of humor and love of classic film. Like many workmates, we've only interacted in the job setting, but somehow we seem to have met on a mental wave that leaves me feeling a little stronger with each Sharon encounter.
The other day, though, my friend upped the ante. You see, I'm not the only guide in our department who has fallen for Sharon. The humble girl hadn't told us much of her history, and on this particular afternoon we learned just a few of the wonderful, impressive adventures her life has yielded. Her disposition, you see, keeps her from bragging or discussing what has driven her over time. Her concern always seems to be for you, and she'll look you straight in the eye and pierce your soul.
Our discoveries of her life led to a showering of praises, but Sharon didn't take the bait and launch into a weave of tales. Instead, she slipped away to a patio just off our break room. I followed her. I sat down in front of her, and I looked at her with the type of care she gives so freely. There were tears in her eyes. She took my hand, and she held it for the next ten minutes. She told me, with no hint of pretense, how overcome she was with the love those in our department had given her -- just how much she appreciated us.
I don't know what I expected to find when I came out to check on her, but what I discovered was something beautiful: a person who was so in touch with their feelings, that they could allow simple gratitude to lead to a good cry.
I haven't cried in about a decade. I was a cry-baby of a child, and I resolved to quit engaging in the reaction entirely during Jr. High, after weathering much teasing over my formative years.
I'm not confident about exactly when the last time I cried was, but I believe it was when my parents and I stood by our cat, Spot, as he drew his last, difficult breath after a bout of cancer. Three other family pets have passed on since then, but I was not able to be there for any of their final hours, and so the releases have never truly come. There have been far more incidents that have occurred that should have brought on a well of tears, but no matter the occasion, my face has remained frozen. Any mist that comes into my eyes is held back. Last year, my grandmother died. As my brother and I embraced my sobbing mother at the funeral, I felt myself force back the tears ready to fall down my cheeks. Something subconscious keeps the wall up, even if my childhood tormentors are far behind me.
It's not surprising, then, that I'm not that great at affection, as much as I would like to be. Often times when I attempt it, it comes off rather awkward. I blame the South and its penchant for men that maintain stoic fronts.
Sharon makes affection natural, though, and, by holding her hand, I was able to sit there and go along for the ride. In those few moments, she taught me a timeless lesson in feeling. Because of her strength, I lifted up to a higher emotional plain, meeting her in this brief time of connection.
You meet many people that impact your life along the way. In a raw display of truth, Sharon gave me hope that I will cry again.