We all draw strength from our close friends and family. It is kind of understood that, barring any bad blood that exists, they will be on hand in a catastrophe–emotional or physical. Some of them are better than others at knowing just what you need and when, but they are all at the end of the phone line on those days when you just can’t take it anymore. When you need a deep breath of the outdoors and someone to take that in with you. During the more dramatic moments when only someone close can help. Someone who is okay with no words being shared–just the company of another person.
There’s also a second tier of people that are equally important but who maybe aren’t as obvious. Their presence is subtle and likely isn’t even noticed for a good long while–not until there’s a hole in the fog. But they weave themselves into the daily fabric of tasks–shopping, banking, working out, etc…
These are the kind people who have an awareness of what’s going on in my life and the fact that I’m fragile, but they may not even know my last name. Even two years later they give me special knowing smiles and inquire as to how I’m doing. They maybe give me a little extra attention or spend a little more time with me. They are quicker to help me solve a problem I’m facing, and they seem to get some joy out of doing so, maybe knowing that they are helping someone who is in pain. These aren’t large dramatic gestures. They are small and consistent and powerful.
A few examples:
The women at the post office. (I know–not generally the place to find warm and fuzzy). They knew Pete and they know I’ve had to take over the business of shipping online orders for Pete’s CDs, DVDs, and books. The post office is certainly a redundant chore every day (for them and for me), but these women have loosened up, and they will joke with me, take care with my packages and make recommendations that are helpful. They smile, and they say “Hi Erin.” When most postal workers look up with dread at the next pain in the ass in their line, these women perk up for me–they have an awareness, I believe not wanting to add to any stress I might already be facing.
The servers at the restaurant where I go to sit and write this blog every week. It took a while before they asked me what I was doing there every week, but now they know. They smile when I arrive. They say “Hello Miss Erin” (it’s a southern thing) and show me to a booth as far back in a corner as I can get. Some of them read the blog and have passed it on to relatives. They don’t over-serve me because they know I’m there for peace and quiet to write.
Finally, the woman at the drive-thru bank window. She is the one who made me think to write this blog in the first place. She found out, the hard way, that Pete had died. He and I always pulled up to the window together. Then one day it was just me and she asked “Where’s Pete?” I had to tell her that he was gone, and that it would be just me forever. She was visibly sad. A couple of weeks later I drove up with the life insurance check that I’d received. She told me that sometimes it takes up to two weeks for it to show up in an account, but that she would make some calls and get it rushed through. She did. It showed up two days later in my balance. Every time I came through her line she looked sad and asked me a lot of questions. I eventually gave her a copy of “Joined At The Heart.” It was my feeling that someone who knew us so superficially but still cared, ought to know us better. She must work all the time because she’s always there when I drive through–no matter the day. Or time. I look forward to her smiling face. Last week it occurred to me what a huge impact she has had on the healing that has happened for me up to this point.
Maybe I’m imagining this special attention because I need it, but I don’t think so. I don’t want to call them angels because that’s a huge responsibility for them, but they are kind-hearted spirits who are mindful of their effect on me. I will learn from them.
Is there someone you encounter on a regular basis that offers this kind of support for you, and is there someone to whom you could offer support?