“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”
It’s been an interesting week.
Returning to the everyday life is always a challenge after a vacation.
I guess I imagined it would be easier once I retired. The problem is this–I know I have time to get things back in order. This thought begins a steady tickling of my ever ready procrastinator button. Nothing productive will ever happen as long as this button is activated. If I don’t act quickly, a series of excuses begin to fall all too naturally from my mouth and that old program begins to play. I was not making very much progress with getting things back to normal.
Then I went to get my hair cut.
God does not always work in such mysterious ways.
My stylist recently lost her husband after a long battle with cancer. She has a daughter who just turned eleven years old and is described as being a “Daddy’s Girl.”
Long story condensed–at least for now–is this. The daughter is failing in school. This little soul who was a good student is no longer interested in much of anything. In fact, she is in constant motion–not listening to her music, not reading, and obviously, not studying.
Unfortunately, I don’t know my new stylist very well. As she spoke, I could feel my own heart began to speed up as my emotions began to build as my mind flashed back to my own life at eleven years of age. I knew this little one was struggling with the loss of her dad and life as she knew it before he became ill and died. I was grasping for words because I knew I had very little time before her next appointment arrived. What was the most important thing to share and say right now?
It was a God Wink–I knew I was where I needed to be talking to a woman who needed my help.
As quickly as I could, I shared my story and asked her to take some extra time with her daughter. I asked her to set aside the school issues long enough to ask how things were going–what else was happening in her world. I asked her to take time to not only ask those questions but to be very still and quiet, allowing this young person time to steady herself and answer as fully as she is able.
I shared some of my experiences while trying to convey how grief is different for kids. Kids don’t know how to express how sad they are or how hard things are–I know I didn’t. I was the oldest kid so I just stuffed it all deep inside so I could move on and somehow survive.
I talked and met her eyes in the mirror, praying I’m coming across sympathetically. I wanted her to know I understood how hard this is for her and how it’s okay to still be sad and anxious. I hope she heard my heart as I stressed to her how this was something that was going to take them both a long time to work through. None of this was going to go away or really get a lot better for some time. Even now, some fifty years later, I am still working through the loss of my mom.
I left unsure I’d helped but felt good that I’d been brave enough to step up and share my story.
Whether it made a difference or not, I’ll know when I see her next time. I know it certainly impacted me by reinforcing my need to read, learn, and share my stories.
I guess I’d been hopeful that today people were better at communicating with kids when there had been such a major loss to the family. I now know there are other little girls out there in need of someone who understands. I’ve been given a new incentive and I know I will be able to help–not just the kids and their families, but myself as well.