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And now, at the risk of sounding bi-polar, or schizophrenic, or whatever the correct term is these days, I’m going to write a post completely opposite of the last one. I don’t take pills, so please don’t suggest whatever the appropriate medication might be. 😉
I had errands to run today. I was already really tired, kinda cranky, emotionally drained, all the things you might expect a person to be after having a morning of dreams like the ones I described in the previous post. I was wishing I was anywhere but OUT, with all the in-your-face consumerism and fake holiday cheer that the stores try to seduce you with. Nevertheless, I ended up at Kmart, hoping to hunt down the ever-elusive *ADVERTISED SPECIAL*-the one that is usually so special that you can’t actually purchase it, but can only look at its picture in the ad and drool over the price. I wanted just one thing, and I was on a mission.
I had just walked into the store, planning my strategy for where to begin the search, when I heard someone behind me say something. I turned around and there was a woman walking toward me. To tell you the truth, I was in a hurry, and was not really in a mood to deal with whatever this person wanted from me. She walked up to me, I think she said “Here”, and handed me a $50 bill. I’m pretty sure she said something else that I can’t remember now, and I suspect that I was looking at her in shock with my mouth hanging open. I barely got out the words “Thank you” before she walked away. Then I started crying. My kids were looking at me like I was crazy, as I stood there bawling in the entrance to Kmart. They started asking me what was wrong, and I tried to tell them, but then they really started looking at me weird, because that seemed like a good thing to them, and they couldn’t understand why it made me cry.
When I started out this morning, I was trying to figure out what sorts of juggling would allow me to buy the things I needed to get. This woman’s gift was such a blessing, and so unexpected. It’s the sort of thing you may hear about when it happens to other people, but it never happens to you. As a matter of fact, I was just reading a news report about people doing this very thing in cities across the US. How amazing when it becomes more than just something I read about.
When I recovered enough to look around and start moving again, I tried to find the woman, but never did. I wanted to talk to her, to say something more than thank you, and let her know how much I appreciated what she was doing. And as strange as it sounds to say it, I think I wanted to cry with her. Maybe someone who would do something like that for a stranger is the kind of person who would be willing to listen to me try to explain why my emotions are so close to the surface. Maybe she would like to hear how much she touched the heart of someone who’s heart has been so recently broken. Maybe she would like to know that her gift was going to go to two little girls who are still suffering the consequences of losing their baby sister. I wish I could have just hugged her.
It seems like anymore someone can do the smallest kindness for me, and I just break down. Not always in front of them, but at some point. It feels strange to know that maybe I am that dependent on people just acting like they care a little bit. The downside of that is that I can also be hurt so very easily, because my heart is on my sleeve.
It got me to thinking though, about that feeling I had today. How incredibly grateful I was for what she did. Not just for the money, but for her wanting to do something for someone without getting anything in return. How grateful I was for the caring of someone I don’t even know.
I wonder if Eliana’s life is having that effect on people, too. Are these people, struggling with their own burdens, touched to the point of tears because a random stranger decided to help them? In addition to receiving the material stuff they need, are they getting some emotional needs taken care of too, just by the thought that someone out there cares enough to do something? I hope that some of the people who are helped because of Eliana feel some of what I felt today. It was a wonderful feeling, despite the fact that I couldn’t stop crying.
It made me realize that sometimes we must be willing to receive, because that is what recharges us to keep on giving, and reminds us of why we are doing it in the first place. I can’t speak for the men, but it seems that for a lot of moms, we have lost (or never learned) the art of gracious receiving. We know our job is to serve our families, so we end up feeling uncomfortable when one of them wants to do something special for us, pamper us, or do one of our duties for us. How many times has someone we loved tried to do something nice, only to hear “That’s okay. I can do it.” or “You don’t have to do that.” I’m sure they know they don’t have to do it, and us putting up a mock protest or refusing the gesture all together is sure to diminish some of the joy they might have felt over their attempt to love us. You know how wonderful it feels to do something great for someone? Well, we rob them of that feeling when we rebuff their efforts.
Giving to others is not just about providing for physical needs. It is a reminder that a person cares enough to do it. We may not all have the money to hand out to strangers like this kind woman did, but we do all have the ability to make someone (even a stranger) feel loved, and we all have the ability to happily accept when someone wants to do something for us. It might take some creativity. It might take getting out of our comfort zone. It might take some practice. But we can probably all get better at enthusiastically dancing the dance of give and take. We can all work on receiving as graciously as we give. Who knows, sometime it might save you from standing in the doorway of Kmart with your mouth hanging open, wishing you had said what you really wanted to say. =)
We just went over the 1000 mark on the number of hits my blog has gotten. It has been less than a month since I started it. I just wanted to say thank you to all my friends who care enough to keep up with what’s going on, and thank you to those I don’t know for visiting and writing to me. The only thing that makes this road any easier is knowing that I don’t have to walk down it alone. Thank you everyone! =) Deanna
I’ve said it many times, and I’m never really sure whether anyone believes me, but the best gifts I’ve received since the death of our daughter have been the tears of those who care enough to shed them. Family, friends, nurses, casual acquaintances, even complete strangers have wept with us, and for us, and for our baby girl. Anyone can send a card. Anyone can mouth the appropriate words. Anyone can do the job that they are being paid to do. But only those who truly care can truly cry with us. I have been amazed and humbled, blessed and strengthened by the depth of emotion displayed by those around us, sometimes from the most unexpected places. Losing Eliana may have ripped away my delusions of the world’s fairness, but it has restored in abundance my faith in people.