It was early last Sunday morning.   Up in North Sydney, I was driving with some or other destination in mind. Such a day was brewing, all filled with the bright, exciting wildness of a dark clouded raining storm, that’s what was coming.

Fleetingly, something called out to my attention. I felt the car stop. I leapt out and dashed between the bustling traffic.

There was a Japanese woman at a bus stop, sitting, waiting, alone.

Her timeless face classically chiselled, her skin that of an alabaster pearl, with eyes which looked through pure ebony into forever. Instantly, she invoked that porcelain, noble Japanese society which endured previous to the 2nd World War. Her willow frame, draped in a thin, unzipped parker.   Below that, a soft blue summer cardigan whose shiny plastic buttons lay undone and waiting. This tiny, exquisite being felt bare and exposed against Sydney’s pushy breeze.

At once I took up the vacant space beside her. Not a word passed between us, as my arm shot across her shoulders, and gathered her in.   Her two petite hands aristocratic and brittle cold, filled just one of mine; hands simply covered in translucent, white lace gloves, also from yestersociety.   She wore no rings.

Fearlessly she surrendered. Someone had seen her. Immediately, she took shelter. Perhaps we both did. It was from life’s storm, both momentarily in from the cold.   My heart quavered.

Working, living, alone, in Sydney for 16 years now she murmured, but soon to be forced to go back, back to a Japan, some unfamiliar thing which was no longer her land. Visa implications, something also unnecessary, no other way left.   As I leant to hear her, wait, yes, a subtle, essential fragrance wafted into me. For an uncountable amount of time, I held her safely, then whispered deeply, “You are the most extraordinary woman I have met. It is an honour, and I am sending you love right now. Remember, never give up”.

Once again I skipped crossed the road and stepped back behind the wheel.   As the car began to drive away, I could feel her.   I looked across to the other side. There was no background, just the selfish wind.   She had stood up, and was waving. I saw that she was crying.

Looking back today, it was the waving which fell across my heart, and that right then I had known this – that even before our encounter, we had never been strangers, and that I had left a true friend stranded, without help or hope. A delicate blossom alone amongst a patch of uncivilised weeds.

I was not late for my destination. She is still waving to me. Her bravery very great, my action not vast enough.