Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rahel Holds Tight

I pulled out of the back gravel parking lot at work in our very old VW bug at 11:45 to pick up the meal for lunch.  The day was unusually warm, so I let the windows down and turned on the radio.  As I sat at a light on the bridge to get onto the 205 freeway heading south I realized that the song playing was the one my husband sang this summer while karoeking at our yearly block party.  He'd only heard it a few times but liked the words so went for it.

"Don't take your life for granted...Why don't you hold on tight to what you've been handed, cause you just don't know how long you will have it..."

He belted it out, screaming a lot it, making up for his unfamiliarity with volume.  My next-door-neighbor who was sitting next to me in the dark reached out and touched my arm with tears in her eyes and said something about how true those words were and don't I just love my husband?

Heading south on the 205 freeway, feeling every bump in our rickety old car, I realized that the next song playing was the one my son kareoked at the same block party.  He stood up without telling anyone but the DJ and sang like an angel, making half the party cry.

So let the light guide your way. Hold every memory as you go. And every road you take will always lead you home, home.

I arrived at Cartlandia on 82nd Ave having had a small cry in the car.  I carried 20 plastic containers of beef tibs, doro wot, misir wot, shiro, gomen, injera to my car, trying my best to arrange them so they wouldn't spill on my drive back.  Rahel, the cart owner, handed me the receipt and thanked me like always for thinking of her for these large orders.  This time though, she covered her eyes, tearing up herself.  In the past, she has told me that I "bless" her with these orders and calls me "honey" on the phone even though she's probably ten years younger than I am.

She said, "Life is hard. My parents are back home, sick, and I send everything I earn to them.  I'm here alone, just my husband with me."  She cried more.  I reached my arm as far into the cart through the high window as I could.  She took my hand and we held on for a moment.  I promised myself to always give her these large orders.  The money she makes from her cart business goes to her family back home in Ethiopia, and the elders I am paid to look after love her food.

How can we not talk about family when family's all that we got
Everything I went through, you were standing there by my side
I've been waking up tight day after day
Hope is taking its time to go my way
But I don't take my life for granted
I'm gonna hold on tight to what I've been handed.

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