Years ago I knew an older Cuban man who designed jewelry. It was the skill he had brought with him to America when he floated across the 90 miles between Cuba and Key West on some form of raft. You live in Southern Florida for a few years and you are going to meet plenty of Cuban refugees. His English was broken, but his speech pattern was one of an self-educated man who tried to assimilate into his new country the best he could while maintaining his connection to his homeland and past. Talking to him helped me understand why others in my own family had come over in the early 1900’s.
As a gift for just being his friend, he gave me a cross that he had designed. One that I was honored to be wearing around my neck since only a few existed and mainly with family members of his. When I asked why I was being included the only response he gave was “You need protection and a belief in something larger than you. You may not trust in God, but I will trust in him for us both.” I wore that necklace for years before putting it in a drawer when my belief in too many things had faltered.
My faith in people had been tested to a point where I no longer thought I understood. Recently someone told me I had become cold and callous in my approach to others. That I was no longer willing to share any details of how I was doing or even what was going on with me. What they didn’t understand is that I was living it every moment and sometimes it just wasn’t enough to tell another. That letting it out sometimes only made me feel worse for having people brought into that circle.
When the ex did what she did, leaving at a time when I absolutely needed a hand holding mine. I lost all faith in humanity. It wasn’t other people’s fault, they didn’t do anything. But allowing myself to hope for help, stretching out a hand that was constantly being swatted away; it affects you deeply. Eventually you give up and crawl inside yourself.
Finding a Saint even to represent what I am going through is hard. Believing that somewhere there is a person who exemplifies the struggle for sanity in a world where I’m at times grasping in the air for a faint hope, that’s almost as insane as I feel at times.
From time to time I find glimpses of what human potential can be. Some article about a kid fighting a disease and the community rallying behind them. Maybe a person just walking around a homeless camp handing out peanut butter sandwiches because that’s all they can offer. The teenager who stops along the side of the road and offers to help change a tire because they see someone struggling with the jack. For a few minutes in their day, those people are saints.
There are plenty of things people have called me over the years. Some pleasant and others still ring in my ears with the force of a explosion causing continued discomfort. At times they are true and at other times as false as possible.
When my Cuban friend died years ago I remember sitting around his daughter’s home and listening to the stories people were telling about him. I kept touching that necklace and still wondered why he had given it to me. His faith was so strong, his belief the life had given him such wonders he wanted to share that same notion with the people he cared about. All I had done was sit there and listened, shared some tea with him. I didn’t understand how I deserved his gesture.
I still don’t understand.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A True Saint.”