(taking a moment away from my normal narratives to share a story..)
I saw you when I was rushing out of Starbucks to get out of the rain and off to work. I looked over from my car window to yours and saw your face in your hands. It sounds crazy, but in the ten seconds of this instance, my thoughts of you slowed time.
I first gave you the benefit of the doubt, maybe she’s laughing from a hilarious text she just received. Excuse me for not minding my own damn business, but I couldn’t look away. And because of that, I saw you take your first wipe of tears.
My heart sank.
As I continued to rudely watch (as I would hope no one has ever done to me), I connected with you. I again witnessed your head go back into your hands, as you began to shake and weep.
For a split second, I asked myself, “Do I get out of my car and hug a stranger?”…. That’s creepy, Katie. She would be weirded out. Mind your own business.
Before I reversed out of my spot, I looked over one last time, pained with your pain and saw you look up to your car roof ceiling, close your eyes, and take a slow deep breath to calm yourself… I know you.
I know you, I feel your pain and I know this exact moment. I’ve shared it with you.
You look to be about my age, maybe a little younger, and I’m going to assume you’re either going to school or have a few jobs to pay the bills — which I know makes you tired and unfulfilled, maybe even a little overwhelmed and confused about your future.
I noticed a stuffed animal in your back window, so maybe you have a child or take care of your younger siblings, and because you’re young and probably stretched thin, I can only imagine how you do all that for them. Putting your needs, your priorities, and your health aside for them. Trying to be a role model and love them unconditionally. I wish I could be more like you.
I’m also going to assume you’ve dealt with heartache, be it from a significant other or someone close to you. Secretly hoping and wishing they’d step up, do their part, or recognize that you need help. Maybe you feel like you’re drowning.
I’m guessing you were in the parking lot to grab some coffee, because Lord knows you’ve either a) had a sleepless night b) just got off work and headed to your next shift or c) you’re about to have a busy day … and this will give you both some comfort and energy to keep going.
I’m not sure why you were crying. But the fact you were alone in your car, tells me that you’re strong. Instead of breaking down in public, in front of your children or loved ones, you save it for the moments you’re alone, where you believe no one can see or hear you (again, I’m sorry).
And because I feel like I know you, I know you’ll wipe those tears clean and forget this instance ever happened. You’ll tighten your ponytail, look in your rear-view mirror to fix your makeup and smile – understanding the ‘show must go on’ and there are responsibilities to tend to.
Trying to convince yourself that you’ll be fine, you’ll grab your purse, walk cautiously to the front door of the coffee shop, up to the cashier, where he’ll smile, you’ll smile and no one will be the wiser.
Looking back, I should have given you that hug.
I should have told you that everything would be alright and bought you that coffee.
Why? I feel like I know you …. because I’ve been there.
The smile you gave to the man who held the door for you and to the cashier who asked how your day was going, was genuine — but held so much more than either of them could even imagine.
To the girl alone in her car…you’re not alone.
Thank you for the humbling reminder: to look deeper than what we see. The weak moments, the pain, the heartache, the strength and most important, the resilience.
You’ve reminded me that those moments alone are real and needed and happen. But that you should not feel alone. By allowing me to witness you in an instance we’ve (ALL) shared and felt weak, you’ve shown me the strength in trying to keep it all together.
But most importantly, you’ve reminded me to be kind, to pass less judgment, to smile and reach out to those who outwardly look seemingly fine and to understand that I know nothing about their inner battles.
You’ve shown me that although we may feel alone in our struggles, there are others who want to help. So don’t give up.
So again, thank you and next time, you’ll get that hug.