There were so many ordinary things to do.
Day to day things. Housekeeping stuff.
A month away will make you aware of how much is accomplished in a days time. How all of the picking up and the doing of laundry and the dishes and the million and one things get done without realizing that they will compile and accumulate without constant maintenance.
We soon needed food. What was in the refrigerator was spoiled or spoiling.
My husband needed to settle into his work routine which meant a trip away for a few days.
That left me alone with my thirteen year old, which I love, but was harder than I thought it would be. He had been very talkative and wanting a lot of my attention. That may be his way of dealing or it may be the super, oversensitive, and hyper aware mode I was in.
Often, when I go through tough times, I curl inward. I need quiet. I need periods of time to cocoon. Like in all alone cocoon.
Well, he talked and talked (on and on) about a computer game he bought and his difficulty getting it to play AND I mean…he gets very obsessed at times over things and I couldn’t help him in any way and I worked very, very hard to remain present with him and offer suggestions. It was what he talked about all morning and into the early afternoon.
My head was spinning and I simply wanted to shut down. I decided that we needed to get out of the house so we went to Kroger and I offered to take him to Taco Bell. I thought getting out would be great for both of us.
I had gone out here and there…little errands over the first week home…but nothing substantial.
Let me tell you…going to Kroger was like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The lights, the people, the noise, the aisles. I kept getting lost in a store that I shop most every week. It was so overwhelming!
I found myself making this quiet but desperate sound once in awhile…a hard, sharp exhale. I realized I felt like I was constantly running out of breath.
My son was amazing here…and very helpful. BUT he kept talking and talking…trying to figure out his computer issue in his head. This, that…constant chatter.
I think that outwardly, I looked like I was keeping it all together. We paid for our groceries, loaded them up in the car.
I sat in the drivers seat. Put my seat belt on.
And then instead of putting my car in reverse…I put it in drive.
I saw it…when I look back I distinctly remember doing that.
There was a white van in front of me. The driver had backed up into their parking space so they could drive forward for a speedy exit, I imagine. In retrospect….I’ll bet his back bumper was kissing the front of my car. He may have even tapped it backing in.
As I briefly looked up I saw that I was “pushing” the van in front of me forward. I didn’t hear a tap, a bang, or anything…just in slow motion, I saw the van in front of me sort of heave. Jump forward a bit.
I immediately backed up.
Man! This was all I needed. Having to talk to the driver. Insurance. Telling my husband.
My heart stopped.
I put my car in park and got out. Looked at the bumper and the front of my car. No damage at all.
I walked up to the driver of the van.
And let me tell you…sitting there was the sweetest, most loving face I had ever seen. A man about in his late 70’s or early 80’s. So clean cut…his van immaculate. His clothes neatly pressed and his hair combed just so. His eyes were a clear, crystal blue. There were oxygen tubes coming from his nose…He smelled real clean and fresh. He was one of those true blue Southern gentlemen types. Charming. Peaceful. Kind.
Through his rolled down window, I heard him say to me:
“There’s no damage, Sugar! No worries, I don’t think there is any damage.”
I looked at him in the eyes and they were so soft, so kind. I asked him if he wanted to get out and look.
“No, Sweet Girl…I am sure there’s nothing to look at.”
And then they came.
He was sitting there with his hands on his steering wheel and being all kind and sweet and all I could do was cry. I mean really cry.
He didn’t look alarmed…just concerned.
He reached out and touched my arm and then I put my hand on the aging, soft as silk skin of his forearm. He grabbed my hand.
“Sweet Lady…what is wrong?”
Then I told him… “I just buried my son.” Blurted it out just like that.
Now…you’ve got to know that I am NEVER like that. Ever. E.v.e.r.
I wondered for a brief moment in my head if I was doing it because I wanted his sympathy. But I know that’s not it.
I was moved.
And in so much pain.
I had gone through a day of great over stimulation and it was only a matter of moments before I would have a meltdown. It was either here or at the checkout at Taco Bell, or at the next stop light or intersection. It was inevitable. It was going to happen.
But it was more than that.
It was the kindness. The gentleness. The sweetness of a stranger that took the time to engage with me. Someone who saw the hurt written all over me and sincerely wanted to connect.
He kept telling me he was so sorry for my loss…that I must be so sad. How he understood and offered up his thoughts and prayers. He asked me about Mike and when I told him he was an Army soldier…well, that brought more concern to his face.
He began thanking me and praising me…and my son.
It was all I could do to stand on my feet. My knees longed to buckle under me.
About this time, his wife came to the car and got into the passenger side. I could see alarm on her face and she wasn’t as kind looking as her husband…then again, she had no idea what just happened and I understood.
She asked if she should go look at the bumper and he simply waved his hand at her, not even looking her way, and said no. No need.
I said thank you then and a few other words I cannot remember…and went to my car.
I sat a few moments.
My son put his arm around me and asked if I was OK. “I’m so sorry for you, Mom,” he said lovingly. “I’m so sorry.”
Then to Taco Bell I drove…just across the street from Kroger.
It took me awhile to stop kicking myself. It’s what I do when I feel like I’ve messed up. I can get real hard on myself.
Putting my car in drive! How careless!
Crying to a perfect stranger! How weak. How silly. How childish.
Then as I woke up the next morning, and right up until these very typed letters….I see.
A loving encounter.
A God send.
A layer of emotion laid down at the feet of someone who God sent to handle those tears for me. A strong, loving and life experienced man that I have no idea even his name.
Lent me his hand. Gave me his time.
Gave me his heart.
For just a few minutes. A few precious, precious minutes.
It was as if he shared some of that sweet, fresh oxygen that was fed to him through that tube. Yes. He breathed a little care into me.
I am beginning to realize now even more than ever before that it is the little things. The momentary encounters. The beautiful moments.
How I pray God blesses this sweet, sweet man who invested in me right there in the Kroger parking lot.
How I cannot wait until one day I see him again…Lord willing. So I can hug his neck and kiss his face.
Tell him how much that encounter meant to me.
And thank him as I can finally call him by name.