She could have ignored the tears in my eyes. She could have beeen annoyed by my lack of focus. Undoubtedly she was tired. It was Friday night, and after 8. I would never see her again. It would have been so easy to look past my face, and my shaky mannerisms, and rush my order through.
But, she made eye contact. And, she asked me if I was ok. And, she meant it.
Although every rehearsed part of me wanted to recite the appropriate line, the one that says, “Yes, I’m fine thank you…” I just couldn’t get my mouth to form the words.
A sigle tear fell down my cheek. And then another. I was in the grocery store. A ritual every third Friday, miles from home. By sheer grace alone no one was behind me.
As the words came tumbing out she made eye contact. She showed compassion. As I rambled about the doctor who had just called me, on my cell phone, after 7 on a Friday night, and the raw fear I felt for my 12 year old, she listened. At the grocery store.
A quick summary of 12 years of ill health and yet a bright, beautiful young daughter who defies all the odds. A few words about the 4 years since diagnosis with a rare, genetic mutation that causes benign and malignant tumors. A brief sentence about the constant battle to keep the malignancies at bay. The terrifying, bone crushing fear that we might be losing.
She bagged my cart. She found my shopper’s card. She reminded me where to sign for my credit card.
And then she did something that I will never forget.
She called her manager. And at first I didn’t understand. Then, she said, “I’ll walk you to your car.” It was cold. Almost raining. She didn’t flinch.
She told me about her own experiences with missed and bumbled diagnoses. She told me she hoped my daughter would be ok. And she meant it.
Somehow I got home that night. The nightmare still continues. But, this woman….
In this busy holiday season, where we sometimes forget what really matters, she cared. At the exact moment when I needed someone to care, and I was surrounded by complete strangers, she cared.
I don’t even know her name. But, she reminded me about Christmas spirit. She reminded me that people care. She showed compassion to a stranger.
She has no idea how much she did for me.
She sent me right home to hold the one who matters most.