Thursday, August 9, 2012


As a new widow, I was painfully beginning the hard task of packing away my husband's belongings, trying to distribute his things to those who would most appreciate them. One morning, I went to the busy grocery store in town to get some boxes for packing his things.

As I entered the store, I was overwhelmed with grief. I stood alone, waiting for someone, anyone, to notice me. I did not need groceries, and was unsure who to ask about the boxes. Checkers were busy, carryout boys were sweeping by me, grocery carts loaded, helping others out to their cars.

The receptionist at the customer service desk was busy behind her counter, handling the people in line. Customers breezed by me without a glance.

I felt as if I no longer existed! With my husband's death came the awareness of complete personal insignificance. My husband had always been the "front man", shaking hands with strangers, asking for assistance, introducing me to everyone. Now he was no longer there, and I felt invisible. The longer I stood there, the more shy I felt.

What is wrong with these young people, I wondered. Can't they see that I need something? Even as I resented their inattention, I hated the idea of interrupting them in their tasks. I considered just going back outside and returning later, but just as I turned to leave, a young woman came through the door, obviously in a hurry.

We made eye contact, and she looked me over as she reached for an empty cart. She glanced back at me as she went by, and

once again, I was alone. But then she turned back to me, and said,

"I could not help noticing you standing there. Is there something you need?" I was astonished that someone who did not even work there would ask me this question, but I told her,

"Yes, I need some small empty boxes to pack some things."

"Oh! Well, that should be no problem" she answered. Then she continued, "Why don't you sit right here on this bench and let me find someone to help us?"

The word "us" delivered a message of human connection. I was not invisible, and I was not alone. As I sat down on the bench, I felt as if she had just pushed a very fragile vase further back on the shelf, to keep it from crashing to the floor. I was so grateful for this kindness. Within two minutes, she was back, with a cart load of empty boxes.

She did not send a boy back to me. She brought them herself. Then she asked one of the sackers to help me to my car, and went on her way. As she turned to make sure there was nothing more I needed, she smiled a radiant and reassuring smile. I blurted out my thanks, and she said,

"Well, sometimes it only takes a tiny bit of time to make a real difference. I am happy that I came by just at the time you needed me!"

She was absolutely right. I DID need boxes, but I needed her even more. This gentle assist helped me to see myself as an individual who was not alone, but one who was part of the whole of life. If she existed, and acknowledged that I existed, I could not possibly be invisible.

The sadness and fear that had engulfed me was no longer there, and I determined to watch for people who needed my attention in the days to come.

~ Author Unknown ~

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