My heart is heavy, it has been for quite some time. Almost to the extend where it is getting hard to breathe. Every morning I wake with that painful ache in my heart and I know that what ever I want to do, ultimately there is nothing I can do about it. Sometimes you feel helpless and sometimes you are just that.
I watch Gracey, a woman in her late forties, how she carefully places her belongings into her bag. Not many things actually, but the bag looks heavier than her. She is a small woman with a tiny frame, her hair is black and long. In a sea of faces I could pick out her face, that is how distinct her features are. She is a pretty woman, not the kind of woman, where you say “she must have been pretty when she was young”, this woman is still beautiful. I don’t know if she had a difficult life, but I imagine, I want to imagine that she had the worst possible life. But she makes sure not to show you that, which makes her different.
Gracey came to Norway some odd years ago and was just not able to establish a life here, or maybe the life she has is the established one, but either way I cannot imagine her moving to Norway to live this life. I might be quick to judge, but my heart goes out to her, for simply one reason. She is different. I am not saying that she deserves a sleeping place more than others, because in my eyes everyone deserves a nice warm and soft bed for the night, a long-lasting hot shower in the morning and a healthy breakfast, to start any kind of day either as a business-man or a retail-person, a kindergarden teacher or a sailor or no job at all.
Her name is not Gracey, but I call her that because that she simply is. Graceful. When I meet new people I am always very careful and aware of my own thoughts of that person. I – as everyone else – want to say things like, “oh you look like my friend X, so obviously you must just BE like my friend X”. Although the one has very little to do with the other. And I guess to a small extend that is my problem with Gracey. I saw her face so many times already, in other people, that I imagine her being like the people that I know. When in fact I have no evidence of her actually being anything like the people I know. What I know though is, that she is just different.
Gracey always smiles and when asked how she was doing, she responds in almost perfect Norwegian, that she is doing fine. She writes very neatly, clearly and quickly, which indicates that she is well educated. The majority of people believe that people living on the streets made some wrong turns in life, which leads them where they are at now. But I know that this for Gracey is simply not true.
I ask her, how she got here and she questions my interest in her for a while. She speaks very little, because she doesn’t know what to make of me. She is careful not to say something she might regret afterwards and I reckon that she was just raised that way, to be suspicious, I mean. Some people simply are that way, always hiding their cards that is. I however cannot hide emotions, thoughts or anything like that, I am an open book and you will be able to read in my face what I am thinking.
I offer her some tea and she tilts her head, before slowly taking it. I offer her something to eat, which she declines, but I know she is hungry, so I leave it on the table. She looks around, making sure that she is in a safe environment and I assure her that. I watch Gracey for quite some time, without saying a word, because I have absolutely nothing to say to her. And for the longest time she has nothing to say to me.
She puts her face in her neck and she speaks quietly, she tells me about her family and her friends and that she misses them. I ask her if they don’t visit her and she smiles. “I’d like that”, she responds. I ask her if she ever thought about going back to where she came from and she slowly shakes her head, “I want to be here. It is difficult, but better here than there.” She tilts her head. “I got out there before the typhoon hit. Now there is nothing left. Why go back?” I want to ask more questions but I notice that I get a bit chocked up, imagining the leftovers of a natural catastrophe. Not only wiping out her home but the place she so fondly keeps in her memories.
I ask her if she was able to talk to her family and she looks up into my face, the face of someone who doesn’t know and she shakes her head. I don’t know what that means, but I also know not to ask more. I offer her more tea, which she gladly takes. I quiet my thoughts, sort them out, while she remains in silence. Gracey stares off into the distance, clearly not longer with me but at a different place at a different time.
After a long silence I break it, asking her if there is anything I can do for her and she awakens from her daydream just to tell me this: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You can pray though, for the lost souls. Pray fro them, make it easier on them.
I am going to spare you my personal feelings and beliefs, but after talking to Gracey I can tell you this, I prayed for her soul, because without people like her, this world would be graceless. This world would be a place of destruction without a second thought about other people. But people like Gracey make me believe in the good in people, and after all, I think we all need that every now and then.