Saturday, November 10, 2007

love from Chile - a note on loneliness

I received an email this morning from a dear friend's mother. I have not, as yet, been able to reply to the message because the emotional response it triggered is too raw. Basically, I cry too much when I read it! But I wanted to share some of the words she said to me because they come straight from the heart and demonstrate the extraordinary power of human compassion and love.
My friend's mother read the posting on my other blog about my feelings of loneliness in Cairo. I have never met this woman, or even spoken to her. I have just heard many wonderful things about her from her daughter. I have heard that she is the type of woman who is surrounded by loyal friends who love her dearly. The type of woman that will go out of her way to help someone in need. I am deeply honoured to have been pulled into the circle of this incredible woman's love.

[This wonderful lady has since died from cancer, but remains very much alive in many people's hearts and minds]

She wrote:
"I was touched by what you wrote regarding your loneliness because that is a feeling I have known myself and that seems to be common to those of us that have lived in cultures that are foreign and unfriendly towards us. I lived in England for too many years (without knowing if or when I was going back home), where I felt discriminated against for being different; from reading your blog I think you can relate to this feeling.
Sometimes I think loneliness is a very personal condition, meaning that we can be as lonely as we want to be. Some people can be in the company of family, friends and loved ones and feel at the same time very alone. Others can be far away from those that love them and still perceive their love and their company. I know from my daughter, that you are a much loved person and so, I think that maybe you are in the second group of people. Perhaps, instead of loneliness, you are bored and frustrated by your circumstances that, after reading your experiences, would try anyone’s patience.
I sometimes catch myself feeling lonely, bored and frustrated, especially given my current circumstances, where I feel like I have no control over my life. But when I take a step back and try to put things into perspective, look around at all that I have and focus on my future plans, however small, I feel lucky, grateful and eager to make the most of every single day
I hope that I kept you company, at least for the while it took you to read this e-mail.
Good luck and remember to always lay the table, sit down and serve yourself a glass of something when you eat – even if you eat alone. In my (too long) stay in England I learned that one must not abandon etiquette, even if there is no one to appreciate it. :) ..."

This woman certainly did keep me company, and her companionship will stay with me beyond the simple act of reading the email. I am deeply grateful for that.

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