As she dozed on the crowded city bus, draped on the bench atop her plastic bags, mismatched luggage - everything she owned carried with her - I snapped her picture with my cell phone. Trying not to stare her awake, I looked away. Her imprint in my mind was indellable - a Pieta. The Bag-lady crucified, Christ of my commute that day. The blue vinyl bus seat seemed to be holding her like the Blessed Mother. Something about her made me think of peace.
She must have been a regular on the route, for when the driver braked, he indicated it was her stop and asked that her fellow passengers wake her. No one moved, though everyone heard, and since I knew their paralysis was unique to Minnesota and incurable, I stood up. Shaking her shoulder and saying, "Excuse me, Ma'am?" in a clear gentle voice, I tried to rouse her. Her face was paper thin and paper white. Complicated lines of weather and time flashed a sweet smile as her dream ended and her moist eyes blinked open. I explained we had arrived at her stop and helped her gather her life's luggage and disembark.
Though years ago she haunts me still. Did I do a good thing by helping her get where she was going? Or was my action an assault? A rude interruption of the temporary peace her passing dream-time had provided? Just a moment's reverie in a life I doubt she'd ever dreamed would be hers. Sleep sweetly, sister. May you be cradled in dreams without trouble, want or pain.