Strangers No More

Dharma teacher Shahara Lauren E. Godfrey, passed away on December 1. In this piece from early 2019, she shares a story about the power of kindness.

Shahara Godfrey10 December 2020

The other day I was shopping at one of those large, get-everything-you-need department stores when I passed another African American woman in the aisle. “Cancer?” she whispered, noticing my short hairstyle. Though my hair doesn’t have anything to do with me being a cancer survivor, she was right. I am a survivor.

The woman and I discovered we’d each had cancer twice—breast cancer for her, multiple myeloma for me. She shared some of her ongoing struggles with her latest remission and I shared mine. We commiserated and laughed out loud about the irony of being alive and blessed, coupled with feelings of pain and suffering. And then we showed each other our battle scars, saying, “Girl, please!”

All I could do was smile with gratitude.

I was moved by her stories and shared some supportive information that I hoped would make her life easier. I felt like I was offering her gifts, and she unwrapped each one with such appreciation. She talked about the power of prayer. We laughed about how fierce our daughters could be with their protectiveness.

This camaraderie was such a welcome surprise. I loved how we laughed about our battle wounds from chemo and other treatments. There was so much common struggle shared in such a short period of time, yet it wasn’t until later that I fully grasped how caring and kind we had been with each other. This spontaneous compassion given from stranger to stranger was simply wonderful—and we were strangers no more. As we parted, we hugged, while kindness held both our hands. The woman said a prayer for both of us. All I could do was smile with gratitude.

Shahara Godfrey

Shahara Godfrey

Shahara Godfrey is a core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center and holds a PhD in Transformative Learning from California Institute of Integral Studies.