Last week was one of those I-cannot-believe-it weeks. I had a lesson to learn, and it was humbling, to say the least.
I had a mega cry on Friday night a week ago, and I have no idea what set it off. It doesn’t really matter because in grief you are okay one minute and not okay the next. It is so weird but you do get used to it. You welcome the tears because they bring relief. So, my grand idea at the end of this mega cry was to just run away. Get the heck out of town for the weekend, yes! I packed a bag and called a few friends in McCall. I had not yet been up to Valley County since Paul passed away and I needed the beauty of McCall, the water, the scenery, and my friends up there that I had not yet connected with.
On Saturday, I set sail, sort to speak. I love the drive to Valley County. I used to joke I could drive that in my sleep. I always know at one certain turn I will enter the Round Valley and just breathe differently. A sigh and sign of relief that I am home again, home in the mountains.
My first stop was at Pam’s in Lake Fork. I was looking forward to hanging out and telling her all that had happened to me, sharing with her how I felt, and talking about how I was dealing with it all. I can now share my story and not be upset or angry. Big step, folks. Big step for me. As the early evening passed, I decided to stay the night at Pam’s rather than head in to McCall to Ellen and Matt’s. I sent Ellen a text that I was staying in Lake Fork; Ellen replied “have a great time”. I did and I let that sign of relief take over. I shared my story with Pam and we laughed and cried. An early night led to an early morning.
I made my way in to McCall the next day and stopped at the Shore Lodge to have lunch with another friend, Deb, and talk with her. After that, I walked in to town to a few businesses to get auction items for my upcoming fundraiser. I arrived at Ellen and Matt’s to find them both kicking back from the long week of Winter Carnival activities. And, then….Ellen told me a crazy story about the night before. The last Saturday night of the McCall Winter Carnival features fireworks at the conclusion. That Saturday was rainy and miserable. People sought cover where they could and naturally, cover at their brew pub overlooking the marina. Ellen told me that at one point she looked over to Matt and he was pointing his finger but she could not figure out what he meant.
Then, a woman, soaking wet from the rain, walked up to her. This woman asked Ellen, “Do you know of a place that has a warm bed for the night?” Ellen exclaimed, “Well as a matter of fact, we do, we have a friend who cancelled staying with us, so stay with us!”
Now at this point, I interrupted Ellen and put my two cents of judgment in the conversation. Last Fall Paul and I allowed a stranger to stay the night and the experience was, well let’s say it was not great. I quickly stopped myself and told Ellen I am sorry, please finish your story. It dawned on me that she and Matt were very generous and took at chance to help a complete stranger. This stranger told them she had a head injury from a terrible car accident, her difficulties since then and her current situation. But she just wanted “to see the ice sculptures at the Winter Carnival”. This woman probably hitchhiked to McCall due to her circumstances. Just to get away, just like me.
On my drive home, all I could think of was, shoot, why did I interrupt Ellen? Just because I had a bad experience doesn’t mean someone else will. Ellen and Matt were generous, giving, and compassionate. I was being judgmental. That is not how I want to be. I realized my lesson took a few facets: one, I was in a worse mood than I thought; two, I was not listening mindfully and three, I was quick to assume and/or judge. I felt my lesson was to breathe a few more breaths and listen better. My lesson was to appreciate the goodness of the situation. My lesson was to remember to listen more mindfully. Lesson learned.
Or so I thought. But not quite…..
Two days later, I decided to walk from my downtown office to the Boise Co-Op for a healthy lunch. On my way back, just passing St Joe’s School, a woman stepped out of the shadows and mumbled something. I did not hear what she said and I asked her to repeat it. “Can you spare a few dollars? I need help right now. I had a head injury and I cannot work” At that point, I thought NO WAY!! I stopped her and asked, “Were you in McCall last weekend?”
Can you even believe it! She said, yes. And, I told her I was the reason she had a warm bed, a warm shower and a roof over your head on Saturday night. And, to myself, I thought, no way!! No way!
What are the odds that I would really meet this woman? What the heck! I had a twenty and a five in my wallet. I gave her the five and we walked a few blocks together. When we parted, I gave her the twenty. Heck, it was only a twenty! Big deal. In the grand scheme of things, I did not need it as much as she did. As much as Bess did. Her name is Bess.
Bess crossed the street and when I looked back, she had disappeared as fast as she had come out of the shadows. I cannot tell you how struck I was, but what I did know immediately was that I needed her to step out of those shadows to soften my heart and finish that lesson.
Can you even believe it? I still can’t but I am so very grateful I met Bess. Thank you, God. Thank you, Universe. Amazing.
#grief #universeteachinglesson #dontjudge #beopen #lessonlearned