Sometimes life's teachers are found in the most unexpected places.
Traveling to Virginia, as we got on the train, we choose the very back car, the lady helping people board told us it is usually pretty empty, and I had no idea how well behaved my baby girl would be during the 8 hours it was going to take us to get there. And as we were waiting for additional people to board, a man got on, and sat in the seats right in front of us. Of course you take in people and your surroundings in these situations... and I did not know really what to think. Why would he want to sit right in front of us, when there was most of an entire basically empty train car around us. But I just accepted it and went on talking with my munchkin.
As we got going, she was in the most wonderful mood, singing and talking away. The man in front of us stayed very quiet... half of the time his head was in his hands, and I noticed he was wearing a hospital bracelet. I wondered had he just gotten out... was she bothering him... should we move so he could be more comfortable? He was just so quiet - it intimidated me a bit.
Then he turned around as Jillian was singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and looked her right in her eyes and said "You sing so beautifully..."
After that he spoke to us a few times, always commenting on how sweet Jillian was, and how special she seemed. His stop, was Philadelphia... and as the train began to slow down, he told me "take many, many pictures, and cherish every second..." he said "it can be over way too fast, my daughter is, no, she... was 7." His daughter had just died, of cancer. And the poor man had to ride home, on the train, alone.
I realized all of Jillian's adorable laughter and giggles, singing and talking, must have been somehow comforting to him, that is why he sat so close to us in an otherwise empty car. But it must have been terribly heart breaking as well.
"Take many, many pictures, and cherish every moment..."
I do - and I always will.