195 days without yelling, 170 days of loving more to go!
The following happened to me last week. It was a beautifully heartbreaking moment that I will never forget because of the truth it spoke.
Every morning that the weather cooperates, I strap one child on my back, buckle two in the stroller, and then hold the hand of the 4th and walk to town for my morning caffeine. We go to the same place, the place where everyone knows our names. Knows our order. Knows that I need help holding the door open so that I can maneuver myself and the stroller in. Knows that by the time I arrive my kids are ready for a morning snack and are cranky and sometimes crying after 25 minutes of being captive to my morning walk, the walk I need to feel good about myself, the walk I need to feel refreshed, alive. The walk I need to make it through the day. The walk I need in order to feel pulled together even if I am feeling anything but.
Well today, today the boys had to wait for their snack. The people who knew us didn’t open the door. And I didn’t get my normal order.
Because there was a stranger in need. A stranger feeling anything but refreshed and pulled together. And we all helped her.
As I approached the bagel store, my four boys in tow, I saw a most beautifully striking woman standing in front. She wore the most gorgeous black suit – gorgeous in style, gorgeous in how it fit her. Her hair was pulled back flawlessly and as I later learned her make up too had once been perfect. But yet this beautiful soul felt anything but beautiful at that moment.
She stood in front of the door, her petite well manicured hands covering her face, clearly trying not to hide tears, clearly trying to stop the tears, stop the pain from being real.
My caffeine would wait. My kids could wait. And somehow, they knew they needed to wait. And not just wait, but patiently and quietly wait. This beautiful yet sad woman tugged at my heart – because how often do we all feel that?
So pulled together yet so unraveled at the same time?
I had to help her because in a way, she was me. I have been there. I have been the one wanting to cry, to bawl, but having to keep it together instead. I have been the one crying in public, wanting help, and having no one reach out. I have felt sad and alone and I would not let this woman feel that this morning. Because I have been there. And it hurts, really, really hurts.
“Hi. Are you okay?” I asked.
“No.” Tears started falling down her face, her perfect mascara now running.
“What can I do? Can I get you a seat? A tissue?”
The boys sat quietly. Listening. Watching.
“No. I just need a friend.”
I just need a friend.
I just need a friend.
Oh these words how they broke my heart. I wanted to hug her and tell her that she is not alone, that it will be alright, that she can call me whenever. I wanted to sit down and let her talk for as long as she needed. I wanted to be there for her because gosh, how often as a mom, as a person, do I feel that?
That I just need a friend.
I don’t need judgement, or advice, or anything else, I just need a friend. A friend to let me cry, a friend to listen, a friend who when my tears are done, will tell me it will be okay and I know that it will be because just having talked will have made me feel better.
I wanted to be that friend for her at that moment but knew my clock with my kids was ticking. I knew the minute she opened up that my boys would get antsy and she would be cut off. And I did NOT want that for this person.
So I did my best.
“Oh my. I am so sorry you are having a rough morning. Did you have coffee? Let me buy you a coffee?”
“Oh, I tried to get coffee but I couldn’t even go in.”
“WE will get it for you. What do you want?”
My boys and I went into the store and ordered our new friend a latte and a croissant because #1 thought it would make her smile. And he wanted her to smile. Because she was very sad he said.
We came out to find our new friend hugging an old friend. I was so relieved that she had found what she needed at that moment. She graciously accepted her coffee and croissant and we graciously denied her attempts to pay us back. We wished her well and walked on our way, my boys asking if she would be alright? Why was she sad? Did she need a hug? Did she need her mommy?
A few steps later we were over the train platform and looking down.
There stood our new friend, wiping away her tears. The boys called to her.
She looked up.
“Blow her a kiss boys, she needs to feel loved.” I said.
And they did. Three kisses were sent her way. And she caught them. And blew a kiss and a smile back.
The next morning the weather cooperated and we walked to town again, as usual. The entire walk the boys asked about “the lady” wondering if we would see her, if she would still be sad.
We did see her. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, almost as if it was meant to be, as we were running late and yet we literally met her at the door as she was walking in. She smiled a shy smile, almost an embarrassed smile. The boys said hi and asked if she was feeling better. She said yes and then quietly ordered her latte.
Then she said the following to the man behind the counter:
“I’m so sorry for yesterday. There is just a lot of stress in my life. I was just having a rough morning.”
Today I didn’t want to tell her it would be okay. I wanted to tell her,
DO NOT apologize for crying. Do not apologize for not being all buttoned up for a few moments. It is OKAY to let go and let the stress out. It’s OKAY.
Hmmm…perhaps I should heed my own advice?