Yesterday, I wore a big sunflower pin, lovingly crafted by my cousin and worn in solidarity with Ukraine.
On the ferry into Seattle an employee rushing by me stopped dead in her tracks, put a hand on her heart and said in what I can only believe was a Ukrainian accent, “Thank you.” I put my hand on my heart and said “I can do so little.” She showed me her Ukranian flag pin under her uniform. We silently stared at each other and tears ran down our cheeks.
An hour later at The Rack, a small woman bustled over to unlock a dressing room for me. As she was turning away she saw the sunflower on my jacket and stood stock still. Silently lifting her hands she showed me her arms. They were covered in goosebumps. Another accent, another thank you, we bent towards each other to air hug, our arms full of clothes, my face wet.
And then, another woman, stopping me and asking where she could get on of these pins. I said, “from me, give me your phone number and name.” She explained her friend and neighbor had just flown to Ukraine to try to get her parents out. I placed my hand on my heart. For the third time in as many hours that day I wept.
I cry for my helplessness, unable to begin to imagine what it must be like: to be here — watching what is happening — or there, running for your life. I weep for the venomous destruction of life. I wear this pin with anger, too.
My cousin is buying all the yellow and blue felt she can find today. We are rolling up our sleeves this weekend.
I have more work to do; a phone number to find out if the family made it out, for starters. I secured the attendant’s name at the cash register and plan to drop a pin off at the manager’s office for that little woman with the big heart. I will fill my pockets with pins and look for the employee on my next crossing so I can hand her a sunflower, and anyone else who asks.
Three woman I would never have known if not for three pieces of felt, needled together and pinned over my heart, to voice solidarity and recognition.
Never underestimate the small but mighty gesture.