Sometimes I see her,
staring back at me,
Most days, I barely recognize her.
I caught sight of her the other day shopping.
My heart sank for her.
She looked awful,
a lost, disheveled mess.
Hair pulled back in an unwashed pony tail,
wearing clothes that didn’t seem to go together
and pants that were clearly too tight,
the victim of too much take-out and cookies.
She used to know how to cook and eat right,
but she can’t seem to remember.
Her eyes were puffy like she’d been crying
and her face was clinging to the remnants of makeup she halfheartedly applied.
She looked like she might need a hug,
but she also looked like that hug might crumble her,
disintegrate the last bit of strength she was using to hold herself together.
Her cart was filled with things she hadn’t intended to buy,
had no recollection of getting,
and the things she needed would never make it in there,
her brain is not what it used to be.
But she smiled at the employees who asked if she needed help,
smiled at the little girl who waved to her,
smiled at the cashier who rang her up.
She smiled because she keeps hoping
that if she smiles enough,
one of those smiles might seep into her skin,
penetrate her heart
she might be able to feel again.