The scene was perfect for movie tears. Boat Quay was crowded with the after work crowds. The chat was animated. Between Aussie footy, the latest English football news, and the promise of an upcoming long weekend, everyone seemed to be in the mindset of relaxing and letting go.
As I looked out across the crowd towards the river there was a single exception. On the far edge, beside the water, was a table with a single rose, an empty pitcher of beer, and a beautifully dressed young woman. She seemed unaware of the people around her. Her eyes were on high alert, yet there already seemed to be a visible sadness even from my distance.
As I silently watched from a distance, curious but uncomfortable with intruding, I saw her order another drink. I casually forgot about her until our group moved outside some time later. I noticed she was she there, the chair opposite empty. As time progressed, whoever was supposed to come did not and she quietly drowned her sorrows and the world went on around her without notice.
At some point I noticed that her head was resting on the table. I asked a waitress to see if she was ok. What followed was right out of a movie. It was hard to watch; even now it doesn’t seem real. She had cried and drunk until she passed out emotionally and physically. As one waitress tried to revive her, others came to help. Before it was over, she had one bringing coffee, another helping her sit and then go to the bathroom, and a third using her mobile to call for help.
Life’s pain is very real. The sense of being alone and abandoned could hit any of us at any time. I find myself thinking of an old promise – “Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.” (Psalm 34.17) I realize I had witnessed God’s angels at work. The lingering memory is a reminder of life’s edge and the role you and I have in God’s touch.