I was traveling home from another trip to Manhattan to see my doctor. Ever since I was diagnosed with depression, this had become my new normal; regular checkups with my psychiatrist. I was doing fairly well, though my engine was still not at full capacity. My friend said that I am still the same old me, just a slower version. It gives me some comfort to think that I am still recognizable. Lately, when I am riding the train alone, I feel quiteI feel quite vulnerable vulnerable—not susceptible to being mugged or robbed, but worried that I will get lost or disoriented. I imagine this feeling is related to my newfound reality—that of depression and all its “delightful” implications: isolation, loneliness and anxiety.

“I think I am going to faint,” I say nervously to no one in particular. I am riding the Q train, and the car is empty. Actually, I haven’t noticed who is in the car. It is quiet, other than the familiar sounds of any subway train, signaling the closing of the doors and the next stop’s announcement. Normally, I observe people, their dress and features. I study their outfits; are they trendy or more conservative? How do they wear their hairstyles, short or long? Formal attire or casual? Lately, I’ve even developed checking out their shoes, wondering what you can tell about a person’s personality by what is worn on his or her feet. Today, though, I am not focused externally. I am busy in my head, thinking about how I am going to recover from this dismal illness. Will I ever get better, or will I be dependent on my parents forever? Is a normal life in my future, or will I be dragging my feet for the rest of my life? My support system is rooting me on, saying that in time, my circumstances will improve. I am having difficulty believing this.

The train is nearing my stop, but before it arrives, I feel myself slipping into what must be unconsciousness. I can vaguely sense a woman sitting next to me, her outline, and I hear her telling a stranger: “She said she is going to faint.” A man stands up in front of me; I don’t know where he came from. I can make out his blurry silhouette. He is talking to me, telling me: “Stay with us.” I am trying.

Weak and dizzy, my eyes are not focused. He asks me if I know which station to get off. I reply that I do. I think he continues to talk to me to prevent me from blacking out, but I cannot discern what he is saying. I just see his form standing before me. At my stop, I rise, and before getting off the train, I thank the woman who responded. The man leaves the train with me. He says that he will not go until I am strong enough on my own. (I was hoping he would say that.) I was never in such a tenuous predicament before. I feel more secure, knowing he is there, at my side. Gingerly, I walk, feeling him close to me, but he is not touching me. I think he does this to respect me as an Orthodox woman.

I get off the train and sit on the subway stairs. “Is there someone I can call for you?” he asks. “Should I call an ambulance?”

“No,” I tell him. I definitely do not want all that hype. With the attention, questions might arise, which I do not want to answer, like “Are you on any medication?” (a touchy inquiry, under the circumstances). I am still getting used to the idea of taking a cocktail of pills in order to improve my condition. I do not want to share these details with complete strangers, even if they are there to help. I attempt to get up, proving that I am strong enough to carry on without medical intervention. We begin to ascend the stairs together. He continues to walk close to me, his arms outstretched, just in case. We make it down the stairs. I am feeling stronger, but still not myself.

“I went to school around here,” my guardian offers. He’s trying to make a connection. I am conscious of the fact that I look Jewish and wonder if he is searching for me to identify him as such.

In response, I ask him timidly: “Are you Jewish?”

“Yes,” he says proudly.

“A brother is helping a sister,” I say and smile.

He beams, and I know I said the right thing. He guides me toHe guides me to a nearby cafe a nearby cafe and buys two big cookies with sprinkles; one for me and one for him. He tells me I should eat something. I think it’s kind of him to take this extra step; his generous actions until now would have sufficed. I’m grateful that he took this extra measure, but don’t have the words to express it.

Although I was hoping to sit down and rest, the cafe is closing, so he walks me to the corner. “Will you be OK from here?” he asks. I look at the man who was sent to help me. He is tall and slim, with blonde hair. He is dressed in a suit, his tie loosened at the neck. I feel my heart fill with gratitude. “I am good from here.” I respond, although still shaken from the ordeal. Thank you seems insufficient, but it’s all I can offer right now. I don’t even know his name. I imagine he does not walk me all the way to my home to give me my space and privacy, but secretly, I wish he would. He, in an Orthodox version, would be a man I would like to date.

We part at the corner. I still am unsettled because I realize I had almost fainted, but how grateful I am that a guardian was sent to care for me, especially at this vulnerable moment in my life. I think to myself that his behavior derived simply from the goodness of his heart. If he knew what anguish I was currently going through, how much more compassionate he probably would have been.

Sometimes, a person enters one’s life for a specific purpose. Once the deed is done, the two never cross paths again. For a while after this incident, I wondered if I would see my guardian again. As time elapsed, the memory of him faded, although I still think I would recognize him, if I saw him.

He’s the one with the halo over his head.