Posted by: pendrops | January 2, 2007

in medias res


I walked into the ladies’ room during the second intermission of the Predator’s New Years Day game to find a three-year-old girl crying. Actually, she was screaming, screeching, bawling. Mother and grandmother attended to the little girl as we women came and went, but nothing could pacify this girl’s tantrum.

As I washed my hands and glanced several times into the mirror to study her tear-streaked face, I never could figure out what the toddler was crying about. I suppose there are any number of things over which children shed tears, but I didn’t see any of those typical signs that warrant outbursts. Even mom and grandma looked befuddled by this unfortunate episode.

As I tossed my paper towel into the trashcan, the little girl’s screams echoed on the tile walls of the bathroom’s entryway. And I would never know what tormented this blond-haired, red-eyed girl.

As I headed back to my seat, I couldn’t help thinking that we pass through so many people’s lives that same way. In medias res, or in the middle of things.

We drop into strange and familiar lives (and are dropped in on) every day, not knowing histories, not seeing the resolution of histories we never understood in the first place. And in all this dropping in, we can’t possibly know all the reasons why. Why someone is angry, depressed, bitter, anxious, skittish, wounded, defensive, obnoxious, sensitive, believing, untrusting, hopeful, despairing or throwing a fit in a public bathroom. And I guess that’s where mercy comes in.

At first, I was frustrated by the relentless screams of this little girl. But as I looked at her face, I realized I had shown up in the middle of her story. I didn’t (and still don’t) understand the reason for her tears, but in the future I can extend kindness. I can show love. I can throw a sympathetic smile to a mother in the middle of her child’s tearful tirade.


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