Dear Lady on the bus yesterday, the one who was crying,
I’m really sorry I didn’t ask if you were ok. I could see that you obviously weren’t, I mean. And I know you got on the bus near our local cemetery, maybe you were visiting a loved one’s grave and struggling with missing them? Maybe your stupid boyfriend was mean to you and that made you cry, it doesn’t actually matter why you were crying. I could see you were hurting and I really wanted to acknowledge it, to let you know that I saw you and that I cared that you weren’t all right. I’m so sorry that I didn’t. I hope that that didn’t make it worse for you, being among a big bunch of people for a good 20 minutes, none of whom said a single thing to you about it.
I think I didn’t because I was scared you’d be mad, maybe snap at me to leave you alone – which was cowardly of me, really. I see now that I was prioritising my hypothetical problems over your current and actual problems. Maybe part of me was also scared to embarrass you, make it worse. But that’s on me too – I wasn’t embarrassed for you, there’s nothing shameful about grief.
The lady beside you was visibly uncomfortable. I watched her take out her phone and glance at you uneasily every now and again – I felt like she was annoyed at having someone else’s life spill over into her space. Of course I’m completely imagining this, and probably superimposing my own frustration at myself. I couldn’t find a voice in me to speak to you, and maybe she felt as useless as me, too.
I thought your nails were beautiful, and you look just like a friend of mine who I’ve always looked up to. I hope you’re ok.