I don't like the day after Easter, but starting today I might (read more about why in the middle of this post). It was six years ago today, almost to the hour, that my mom called me at work crying and told me that she had two brain tumors (later we found out it was only one that had a branch off of it). I was in total disbelief because 1) it just couldn't be possible and 2) I knew it was bad if my mom had actually called me at work about it and was crying on the phone - two things she never would normally do.
I remember sitting at my desk, the phone to my ear, repeating over and over again, "No, that can't be true mom. This can't be happening. This can't be true." I guess I thought maybe if I said it enough I'd wake up from the nightmare and find life was normal. I bolted out of there that day, the first day of a completely different version of life. I rushed home to find her on the couch at her house, crying so hard. Despite the tears, she looked so beautiful - hair perfectly curled, wearing a very beautiful dress. I knew she had anticipated leaving the Dr.'s office that morning and going to work because surely nothing would be wrong.
We just hugged each other, and I reassured her we were going to get through it. And after about a hundred phone calls and being told there was nothing we could do that day, but we could schedule and appointment to see an oncologist in the next week, we made our own plans and drove her up to the ER at a city hospital well-known for cancer treatment. She had been going numb on her right side already for days, and it was getting worse - we used that to get her into the ER, they then admitted her, and an oncologist saw her the next day. Might not have been what they said we "should" have done, but we weren't waiting.
It makes me sick just to remember it all. My whole world changed that day. I dread this day every year, almost as much as I do the day she passed. I try and find things that are going to make the day easier, to distract me. This morning, I decided to treat myself to a rare breakfast - McDonald's sausage mcgriddle. They are not healthy at all, which is why it's rare - but I really enjoy that sandwhich! As I pulled in, I saw a little old man looking around the ground on the parking lot and wondered if he had lost something - but too busy with getting to where I needed to be, I pulled up to the drive through. I ordered, and as I was pulling around to the window there was a car in front of me, and this man was standing right next to us looking at the ground. As the other car was paying, I saw his eyes light up as he was looking at the ground, and he went over and picked up a coin. Then he went back to standing right next to the window.
He didn't ask for money, or anything else. He smiled, waved, told me he found a penny. As I looked closer, you could see his face was scarred, yet he was just so happy to be standing there. He wasn't bothering anyone, and I felt bad that my first thought had been, "Why are there always the strange ones around when I am?" This man wasn't bugging anyone - he was looking for coins, excited to have found a penny.
I got my food and pulled forward, and all I could think about was him. I wondered how long he'd stand there before he collected enough for something to eat or drink. I thought about how that could be anyone, how fast food is probably cheaper than making food at home, or how maybe he just enjoyed being around people. A friend told me this morning that he probably was just too stingy to spend his own money. Well, so what if he was? He's standing, collecting pennies. Doesn't everyone deserve a little compassion?
I pulled some money out of my purse, drove around, and handed it to him. It wasn't much, but he looked at it and then looked at me and just smiled ear to ear, his scarred mouth making the brightest smile I've seen in days. He told me "God bless you" and said that now he could get something to eat, and to have a nice day. I just told him to have a nice day, and got back in my car.
And on my way to work I thought, God already has blessed me. I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful healthy kids, some great family and friends. I have a roof over my head and food for my family, and I woke up again this morning (always a good thing!). Mom might not be here with me physically, but I'm sure she's still here with me in heart. So why not take one of the worst days of the year for me, and turn it into a great day for others?
For the first year in the last six, I think today might turn out to be an okay day, all thanks to the smile and words of a stranger.
My lesson learned today is to take advantage of the opportunities we can to better our lives and those of others. There's thousands of opportunities every day, but most of the time we just look (or in my case, drive) right past because we can't be bothered with the loss of time. I think if we took a moment to stop, we'd find the time isn't really lost after all.