A cab driver was called to a building at 2.30 in the morning. The driver walked to the door and knocked. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80′s stood before him. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
She took his arm and they walked slowly to the cab. When they got in the cab, she gave him an address, and then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”
“It’s not the shortest way,” he answered quickly.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”
Her eyes were glistening.
“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don t have very long.”
The driver reached over and shut off the meter.
For the next four hours, they drove through the city. She showed him the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had him pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask him to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun, she suddenly said, I’m tired. Let’s go now.”
They drove in silence to the hospice.
Orderlies helped the woman out of the cab. The cab door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
The driver didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. He drove aimlessly, lost in thought.
He didn’t think that he could have done anything more important in his life than drive the old woman to hospice.
You have your own unique journey, but the destination for all of us is the same. May you walk gently and mindfully today, aware that you are related to all else at every step; never alone and part of something enormous and infinite.
If you have opportunity to make another person’s life gentler, even in one moment, then that is the most important thing you will ever do.