Published in Natural Awakenings Atlanta for the column Walking Each Other Home, May 2023
Have you ever had a connection with someone that you will never forget, then in an instant they are gone forever? It has happened to me a few times. Sometimes it lasts for a moment and sometimes only a few months. All of them made me wish for more time with that person.
The first time that I can remember it happening was on a subway in Atlanta. A man sat on the train across from me. We happened to look at each other and our eyes locked. We both stared at the other, not understanding the connection or what to say. Intuitively I felt I had known him in some former life as a dear friend or lover. I cannot explain it any other way. It was like what they call “love at first sight”. Yet I was only fourteen and he was perhaps twice my age. I knew that it was not an impulse I could act on and I could feel that he knew it too. All we could do was hold our stare and try to remember some timeless connection. Then the train came to a stop and he was gone. It was such a vivid interaction that I have never forgotten it.
A similar connection happened to me in Morocco. I had just boarded a banana boat heading back across the river, when I saw a girl on another boat that was just docking. She had the most striking eyes and we looked at each other, unable to look away. She was with her family and they must have noticed our connection too because they smiled back at me and began gesturing toward me. Neither of us spoke the others language but we both knew what the other was thinking, that we were old friends, somehow connected. As my boat drifted away, there was nothing I could say. We both smiled and the moment was gone.
Sometimes it can happen as a result of some trauma. On one visit to Guatemala, I was in a small boat crossing Lake Atitlan when it was suddenly rocked by severe waves appearing out of nowhere. Everyone on the boat was frightened as we thought we would capsize. Sitting beside me was a Mayan woman about my age and she instinctively grabbed my hand for comfort. We held onto one other as if we were each other’s savior, both of us practically in tears. I felt such a closeness, as if we had known each other all of our lives and were afraid we may not live to see each other another moment. We held each other that way until our boat reached the dock. And then, not knowing how to speak the others’ language, we both laughed and hugged goodbye.
The last time it happened there was actually time to become friends with this kindred spirit. I had only met Mar in Ecuador right before Covid hit. We were both volunteering at a zoo and became instant close friends. After our volunteer time we stayed connected on Whatsapp. It was a very hard time for Mar because her elder aunt and uncle had died early of Covid in Ecuador and she could not be there to help them. She had already been going through a difficult time in her career and had gotten depressed. I did what I could to be supportive but I could not be with her in person since she lived in Berlin. I tried to keep in touch with her but the pandemic was taxing on me and sadly I did not reach out frequently enough. Then one day she vanished from WhatsApp. I had no other way to reach her. It was an unexpected loss in a time where I had lost so much already.
I keep this picture of us near to remember this sweet soul named Mar and our special friendship. I understand now that it is so important to hold those golden connections close when they come into my life again. The next time it happens I am not going to let a language barrier stop me from reaching out. I never want to miss the opportunity of having such a rare and deep spiritual connection with someone again.