When things happen to me twice in a relatively short period of time, I know I’m meant to write about them. I can’t write about the first one, but let me tell you about the second one:
Tuesday night I had to swing by the grocery store. It was 9:15 p.m. and I just wanted to go home. It wasn’t my usual grocery store with the carpet on the floor … it was another one.
Almost no one was there and as I walked up to the register, I saw a woman with some groceries (not unusual) but she was also wearing a big coat (way too big) and big dark glasses (unusual). I had a bad feeling. I see that her groceries are already on the conveyor. It was mostly chips, pop, pizzas and mac and cheese. As I got up close to her I could almost feel how she was feeling. And, I was feeling sick.
Let me back up: 6 years ago I was on the board of a local shelter. The experience was amazing and incredibly depressing at the same time. Being battered is a really horrible, lonely and scary life.
I tried to engage her in a conversation but she ignored me. When the total price was given to her and she realized that she doesn’t have enough money, she lifted up her glasses to look for money in her purse – I could see her panic. She made a comment about her husband in the car not wanting to give her more money. With my hands trembling I offered to help.
She turned toward me (this was the first time I could see her face) and I felt like crying. She’d been hammered by someone. It was bad. I pulled out some cash and gave it to her – I was a bit panicked too and I gave her more than she needed but I told her to keep it. I really didn’t want her to go to the car but I knew this was outside my control. I quickly wrote my name (first) and number (work) on a piece of garbage sitting there and told her to call me any time. She just looked at me and walked out. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do. It was just in the moment and it was all so fast …
As I swiped my card to buy my groceries, I realized I was crying. The cashier walked over, gave me a tissue, hugged me and said, “I will remember the two of you and this moment for the rest of my life.”
Life is so painful. We never know where we’ll end up, how stuck we will be, or how despondent we could become. And, we never know when we might have the chance to – for an oh-so brief moment – give out our love and compassion. Be thankful today. I hope she calls me.
Have a wonderful and safe day.