Something happened to me today that was so subtle, but yet, so profound. Moments like this almost always make me want to run into a quiet room and write for hours. If only I could carve out the time to absorb my interaction and analyze what it meant and then let the philosophy lesson flow onto the blank screen. Yes, maybe in ten years, I will have all the time in the world to practice this process but not now. Instead, I grabbed this moment of rare energy, late at night. Perhaps the energy to write this post is inspired by the black starry sky staring back at me when I took our puppy outside.
It was a typical work day. I actually decided to eat lunch - a meal I sometimes skip because I rarely get hungry during the day. There is only one option for lunch if you don't want to get in your car and you weren't organized to bring a lunch and that option is the local deli. I only work at the office twice a week but know I can count on the same three people to greet me when I walk in the door, prepare a delicious sandwich, smile and make small talk, when I pay for my food. "Nice people" are my thoughts usually and then I head out the door and back up to my office, never to think about them for the rest of the day.
However, today was different. Today was one of those moments when the Universe freezes time and forces the interaction for a reason. There was a calling for me to buy my lunch at 2pm at a time when I would have usually skipped this meal. I said hello and the cashier greeted me. I went to order the special, grabbed my full strength Coca Cola, my caffeine for the afternoon, and wandered back over to the cashier. She mentioned something about how I am only here on Thursdays and I explained I worked part-time. And then out of the blue, the message was delivered.
The deli was quiet with very few customers and so she compliments my Coach purse, something she does weekly, and whispers, "let me tell you a sad story."
I almost said, "Excuse me, did I hear that correctly?" But instead I leaned in and stayed quiet, not even thinking "do I have time to listen to a sad story?" At that moment, I was her counselor and I had no where to go but right there.
These type of occurrences happen to me often. Random strangers, people who I have met for the first time, making a connection. And I honestly don't believe it happens by accident. My cousin once told me that I was very insightful. But to be very insightful, you first must be approachable and open to whatever the Universe sends your way and then you absolutely must focus on the person and listen.
So there we were, at the deli, at 2 something in the afternoon, and her sad story began something like this "He is here all the time, even working on the weekend to get the deli ready for the week ahead. I am here almost everyday but Sundays. And my kids, I have two, and they are grown. One is in college and one has graduated but I missed it all. I was working and working and now I don't have any memories. And then the one line zinger hit me. I haven't had one day of vacation in sixteen years. What did you say Deli Lady who is always kind and smiles every time I pay for my food?? You haven't had a vacation in sixteen years???? How is that even possible? Just last week I was ASKED to take vacation because I couldn't hold up my office hours because my kids were home on Spring Break!
I tried to be reassuring and guessed that her kids have a strong work ethic and she smiled when I said those words. I also shared how her kids must appreciate her and the sacrifices she made for them and she shook her head ever so gently. I immediately felt guilty of my part-time schedule and I felt a calling to then share my sad story with her and why I do everything in my power, to balance work and family. I told her the sad story of my three angel babies and then gave her hope when I spoke to her about my three premature Earth babies. She was quiet for awhile and you could see the pain that she was feeling for me, realizing the heartache I had experienced to have a family.
Just like that, a moment frozen in time, I bonded with the Asian deli lady and she bonded with me. And her sad story has had a presence with me all day.
What can I do? How can I help? How can I make it happen that she would get a vacation? I'm open to idea's. Pleeaase flood my brain with your creative thinking!!! Until I figure it out, I may have to collect money at the office and buy her a Coach purse.
To all the momma's out there, take time to hug your precious babies and enjoy their company! I know all three of my blue eyed, blonde hair babes witnessed a silly momma tonight because I needed to make sure they knew how much I love them but also how much fun I have being with them! Sometimes our kids may drive us absolutely crazy but be thankful for those crazy moments because there are many momma's who make unimaginable sacrifices. Often, we have no idea how blessed we are, until we hear a sad story, like the one I heard today, that makes us appreciate all the good, and the bad, that comes along with motherhood.
My children are the reason I laugh, smile and want to get up every morning. ~ Gena Lee Nolin
"Every cliche about kids is true; they grow up so quickly, you blink and they're gone, and you have to spend the time with them now. But that's a joy." ~ Liam Neeson