Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who was she?

There are times when I wonder who I used to be. What was I like? How many human beings I breezed on past during my daily life without a thought. Such was the situation yesterday as I stood in the checkout line at the Dollar General.

The pretty young girl in front of me was buying a rug...the kind you put in your kitchen doorway so people can wipe their muddy boots on the cute little apple decorations you've chosen for your "theme." She was quiet and didn't make eye contact with the cashier who took her money and handed her her change. It was her startling lack of human contact that made me really look at the cashier. Much to my surprise, instead of the vacant look I was expecting to see, I caught her wiping away a tear. She was trying to hide it...but she was definitely crying.

I startled the pretty young girl in front of me when I asked the cashier, "Are you ok?" In fact, the pretty young girl looked at me like I had lost my mind and scurried away, out the door to her car, as fast as her little legs would carry her.

It was that simple question...the one that I've been asked so many times...that just opened the flood gates for the cashier and it all came tumbling out. "My three month old baby boy had to go to the hospital." I asked her why and she said he had a temperature of 103.7 that wouldn't come down.

I watched her struggle to maintain some composure...to hide her tears...but she couldn't. Her son was born March 7th, was LifeFlighted to Cleveland, and spent March 7th through the 16th in the intensive care unit of one of the children's hospitals there. Being too personal, I asked why and she told me he had inhaled meconium during delivery and ended up with pneumonia and meningitis. She tried to smile as she said, "I guess that really did a number on me."

As she was making my change, she said she was thinking of going to be with him right that moment. I smiled a little as she handed me my inaccurate change (off by just two cents) and said, "You should, you're not going to be able to concentrate here until you see him with your own eyes and know that he's ok." She closed her register and tearfully said, "I'm going to go talk to the manager right now," as she walked out from behind the checkout counter.

I walked out of the store, got in my empty minivan, and cried for her.

I didn't even catch her name.

10 comments:

Shinny said...

I hope her little boy is alright. That was so nice of you to ask her if she was ok and not just ignore her tears. I don't know how you do it. I truely respect and admire your courage Catherine. You are an inspiration to me.

Hope all is well with you.

Ok, my word verification is very close to vodka. ;)

Julia said...

Hope her boy is ok.
She probably appreciated you validating that impulse. It's so lonely when your world is breaking into pieces and for everyone else, life just goes on.

mopsy said...

I hope she made it to her baby's side. I hope he will be okay.

Things like this happen all the time, but most don't see. You *hate* how your eyes have been opened to pain, but through it you recognize others' pain...and they are grateful. She will never forget your kindness.

JMB said...

This, my dear, is why people love you. You had the compassion to see another person hurting and the courage to reach out to them. She clearly needed that human interaction, that validation of her urges to run to her little boy. I hope he's OK-I hope that she's OK.

Please let us know if you see her again at the store, and also let her know that a much larger community is thinking of her.

Sarah said...

How many times have we all wished to have our semi-hidden tears recognized by someone....

I'm so glad you were there to let her act on her desire to go and see her baby.

And this story makes me cry too.

Amy O said...

What a wonderful gesture!

*Darcie* said...

I am so glad you reached out to her Kate! Sometimes that is all we need is just someone to notice our tears. I agree with JMB, if you see her again, let her know that she had a huge community looking out for her! I hope her little boy is safe and at home with her!

Aurelia said...

Both my kids had menconium at birth and both just barely escaped this. I feel such fear just hearing this.

Thank you for caring for her. She needed it!

Angela said...

I cried.

GLouise said...

Oh, I hope her little one is okay...I am glad you took a moment to speak with her, instead of just walking on by.