Yesterday should have been a relaxing Sunday, the kind meant for napping, but I was restless. Too often the effects of working from home catch up with me and I feel like I just need to GET OUT, so Luke and I went for a walk. We made our way down winding Lowland Road and over the expressway to downtown Nyack where we knew a fall festival had been taking place. The festival was over by the time we arrived, so we found an empty park bench overlooking the Hudson river and continued what had turned into a somewhat involved conversation about our future.
My body was turned toward Luke as we sat, and in the middle of our conversation I saw him look past me for a split second with confusion on his face. A very pregnant Asian woman had sat down next to me--I mean RIGHT next to me--on the park bench. I felt a little invaded, a little irked, and immediately I attributed her actions to her internationality. Luke and I tapered off our conversation and as much I wanted to get up and leave then, I looked at the woman and said "Hello." In all honesty, I didn't even know if she spoke English. But she said hi back and apologized if she had interrupted our conversation, she was just so tired. I noticed how beautiful she was. Cropped black hair that fell in short waves around her roundish Chinese face, bright white teeth, very stylish sunglasses and a camel poncho that tied just above her big belly. She was a real estate broker in Manhattan, but she had only moved from Beijing in 2009. I asked a few more questions about what brought her to Nyack that day until the conversation inevitably went to the pregnancy of her first child.
"When are you due?"
"November the 6th."
"Do you know what you're having?"
"A baby girl."
I'm not sure why, but at the mention of her baby girl, tears came to my eyes. I was filled with joy for this complete stranger. We continued our conversation for a little while until Luke asked if they had a name picked out. She smiled, hesitated, and then said "You will be the first ones I've told." We all started laughing at the craziness of it: Luke and I, having no connection to this woman whatsoever, knowing the name of this precious baby even before the grandparents?! We felt honored and promised not to tell anyone she knows.
We parted ways soon after that, but I was very touched by our meeting. I was ultimately glad she sat down on our park bench in a stroke of very un-New-York-like behavior. I was also glad I didn't get up like I wanted to and walk away without a word. It was a good reminder that in a society where anonymity and keeping to ourselves is the cultural norm, that's not what we we were made for. We were made to connect with one another, to share the joys and burdens even of strangers on a very personal level. Getting up from that park bench would have been to miss a great opportunity to live out what I am created for.
So for little Cleo Song who will be out in the world in less than a month, I pray God's grace and blessings. Her middle name is after her mama, who I was glad to know for a very short time on an early fall afternoon.
I'll be back this week with part two about a burden shared with a New York City bicycle deliveryman.