Friday, April 14, 2006

The Kindness of Strangers

One day, sometime last month, Dan and I had an argument. I was upset and left the apartment to cool down a bit, so we could discuss things in a calmer frame of mind. I stopped at a red light, and a homeless man, selling Miami's homeless newspaper (it is written and run by the homeless to earn money for the bread bank... similar to StreetWise in Chicago, if you are familiar with it) came up to my window, which was already open. I handed him a dollar, and he saw my red eyes and asked if I was alright.

"I'm fine, just a rough day."

"Honey, everyone has rough days. The trick is to remember that you're healthy, have friends, and are happy overall. Look at me; I'm homeless, but I find happiness, too."

I was touched by his words and concern, and told him so, thanking him for his kindness.

"Let me tell you honey, there's nothing stranger than kindness and no one kinder than strangers . Have a blessed day."

And the man walked off to the next car, seeking his next dollar, with a happy grin on his face.

This encounter has stuck with me, because of the open kind-heartedness this man had towards everyone, even a stranger with red eyes in a car stopped at an intersection. His simple words calmed me down more than anything else could have, and have come back to me since then when in similarly stressful situations.

Sometimes, however, it is hard to remember that my health, friendships, etc. are intact. Now is one of those times. I don't want to go into specifics right now, because doing so will make everything seem so real and close, and I like the distance I temporarily have from my own feelings. Just let it suffice to say that it was made apparant yesterday that a relationship close to my heart has failed, and I am lost, hurt, and in a very, very bad place.

On top of this, my dear friend's father was found dead today after being missing for a couple of days. She needs me, and doesn't know of the emotional trauma that came to a head yesterday in my life. And I'm going to be there for her, dammit, even if it means putting everything going on in my life on hold. I know I'm not able to postpone the overwhelming feelings of hurt and lost from these events in my life very long, and that I probably shouldn't, but I can't face them. And while this death in my friend's family isn't a welcome relief by ANY means, it is a personal reprieve from myself.

So, Internet, I turn to you, and the kindness that strangers bring to each other. While nothing I can do or say will make everything better for my friend, what can I do? We're going shopping after I get out of work to get her some black clothes, because she doesn't have any. I'll go to the funeral to be there for her. But what else?

And for me... how do you endure the agonizing feeling of your heart breaking into millions of pieces? I'll post again in a couple of days saying what happened. It is too close to the heart right now.


Chickin Noodle said...

My heart is breaking after reading your post. I have to say you sound like an amazing friend.

There is never anything perfect to say to make all the pain go away. You have to work through it and remember when you come out on the other side... you will be a better person for it. It is hard to see it now but I promise you it will get better.

I wish I could send you a super cheezy movie and some wonderful cupcakes. I know they won't fix it but... something to distract you if only for a minute.

My thoughts are with you.

Emily said...

Ah, Cathy. You know my thoughts on all of this. Feel free to call at any point. I keep my phone on.

Now, as to what you can do for your friend: take care of the little practicalities if she forgets them. Make her everyday life as easy as you can, since many of the details will likely escape her. When people are going through grief there's not a lot you can do except be there for them and try to keep the real world at bay until they can get their feet back on the ground again.

Beca said...

You're my dear friend, and I love you.

I can send you some home-made cake mix! Or cookie mix! You just add eggs and oil and water and stuff, and then--BOOM! Cookies of awesome.

Would you like some cookies?