The lady on the train.

I went out for a rare night out with my friend K yesterday.

It was an awesome night, lots of dancing, just what we both needed.

We left home around half five in the afternoon all dressed up and excited for the evening ahead. After almost seven years of friendship and countless nights out, it had been a while since we had been dancing. We were aching to be let loose on the dance floor and release some inhibitions.

As we entered the tube station and waited on the platform, I noticed a young woman also waiting for the train. When the train arrived and we all boarded it, something stood out immediately about her.

She was crying.

Sobbing.

I instantly felt for her and questions filled my head. She had a pair of headphones in her ears. I wondered if the music was triggering an emotion or memory in her. I subtly pointed her out to K with worry. K was shocked. It was unusual to see someone pouring out their emotion so openly especially in such a public environment. We both wondered if she had just lost someone or found out her partner had cheated on her, did she have a broken heart or ended a bad relationship?

Either way, it was clear to me that I could not just sit there and watch this woman suffer.

I reached into my bag and pulled out some tissues. My friend seemed surprised at my gesture questioning whether it would be appropriate. There was doubt in my mind. I could be infringing on a personal moment and she may want to be alone. However, she made the decision to get on the train, in front of watchful eyes and concerned hearts. I had to do something. I too know that feeling. Many a time, whilst living with the abuser, did I rush onto the tube in tears fearing his presence, anxious to escape. Did anyone approach me with a tissue? No. And I can honestly tell you that people have looked into my eyes as tears streamed down my face and immediately looked back down. Who’d want my problems?

So, up I got. I walked over to her, tissue in hand and sat beside the crying lady. She looked up and noticed the tissue. I didn’t say anything, I just handed it to her and smiled. Suddenly, her face changed. The tears fell into the gentle creases of her face and what was once a frown turned into a soft smile. She mouthed to me,

“Thank you so much!” over and over again.

I rubbed her arm gently.

“Are you all right?” I asked tenderly not wanting to reignite her emotion. She nodded sweetly and said thank you again silently through her smile.

I sat back down to see K with tears in her eyes. She was touched and saw that the young woman felt the same way. Why would I just sit there and watch her with judgement? I couldn’t do that. I had that done to me.

After I moved away from her, the woman wiped away her tears. She leant on the pane of glass beside her and closed her eyes. She seemed at peace.

For the rest of her journey she remained calm and as she got off for her stop, she sent me a gentle wave and mouthed “thank you” as she left.

I smiled and mouthed back,

“It’s okay”.

It’ll be okay.

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8 thoughts on “The lady on the train.

  1. For all the times others, too, saw me this way, some of them with bruises and welts, or a black eye, and no one reached out, thank you.

    This made me cry. I guess unless people haven’t been where we have, no matter how we ended up there, they don’t understand. All it takes is compassion enough to move you to reach out. Perhaps mercy and concern.

    The smallest things we do out of love end up being the most meaningful.

    1. Exactly. I wanted to reach out to her. Seeing a woman of a similar age to me when I was enduring the worst of the abuse made me, without hesitating, go to her. Whatever was upsetting her so much was worth recognising. It did not matter that she was a total stranger. Too many people ignore sadness and look on it as weirdness or weakness. It’s appalling and very sad and I feel sorry for people like that.
      Thank you for understanding. Compassion for each other will carry us through xx

      1. Thank you so much for doing that. I can’t believe the impact this one post seems to have made. Clearly and sadly, this is a common situation that many others have witnessed or been subjected to. It doesn’t take much to show you care and frankly, I’d rather be told off by the person in question than sit back in ignorance and shame. Lots of love and good wishes from London x

  2. This brought tears to my eyes for the second time!

    A moment of fearless compasion I’m happy to have witnessed.
    Very beautiful x

  3. I’ve often witnessed a situation like this, and done exactly what you said people did to you. I’ve looked away because I didn’t want to risk the embarrassment… that off chance that the distressed person didn’t want more attention brought to their tears and so would tell me to mind my own business. When I’ve done so, I wished I was a stronger person that could offer that tissue anyway. You’ve just inspired me to be stronger next time.

    1. I’m very touched by your words, thank you. I do not blame strangers for looking away and avoiding the situation, I sympathize. We are not normally placed in these circumstances and as humans, we shy away from other people’s pain. The woman was clearly in emotional pain and I just could not sit there ignoring it.

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