Dear Mariah

Dear Mariah,

Yesterday I was sitting in the bathroom stall at Big Lots, scrolling through Facebook when I heard you step into the bathroom, crying.  At once I worried what was wrong, my mind flitting over what it could possibly be.  I hurried out, careful to make it not seem like I was rushing, and there you were, eyes red and nose running.  I didn’t know you, and still don’t.  All I knew about you was that you worked there, which I knew from your black apron with the Big Lots logo on it with your name tag pinned just beneath.  That’s the only way I knew what your name was, because I didn’t have enough time to ask properly.

What I did ask was what was wrong.  You told me your grandfather had died, and of course the first words out of my mouth were the oh-so-common “I’m sorry.”  I did mean them, though.  I didn’t intend for them to sound trite.  I was and am so very sorry that you lost him.  I haven’t been there, and I dread the day I am there.  As I washed my hands, I contemplated what I would say next, then asked whether it was unexpected.  You said no; he had a heart problem.  I nodded, again paused, and asked if there was anything I could do.  Again you said no.  As we both left the bathroom together, I offered what I had left at the time: “I hope your day gets better.” “Me too,” you said.  Then we parted ways.

In the wake of that conversation, I wonder: Did I make a difference for you?  Was I able to help, even a little bit?  I did so badly want to.  I do so badly wish I had done more.  I could have asked whether you were close to him.  It might have hurt, but wouldn’t it show I cared?  I wanted to give you a hug, but I know some people don’t like hugs, and I found asking too awkward.  I wish now I had asked.  I wish I had tried.  Yeah, it might have been a little awkward, but I can sacrifice my personal comfort to try to make your day better.  I don’t know you, but I want your day to be better.  I want your hurt to end.  I want for our brief interaction to have brought you some small ray of hope in your pain.

Maybe I’ll see you again.  Maybe I won’t.  Either way, it’ll be okay.  I don’t need to know if I’ve made a difference, even though I might like to.  Please, just take care of yourself.  Be okay.  Be better than okay.  Heal when you’re ready.  For me, but more for you and all those close to you.

With all the hope and love I can offer,

Beautiful Blackwater.

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5 thoughts on “Dear Mariah

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  1. This is wonderful! This reminds me of the time that my “adopted” grandfather passed away, and I hadn’t expected it. Sure, he’d been in and out of the hospital for months, no, years, but I never expected him to pass on the same day that I had to face my past demons. My brother messaged me with the news, which I was going to wait and read at the end of my choir concert, but I chose that moment to read, while my choir director was centering us on the elementary school risers, (we were simply performing there; I’m in high school) and I cupped a hand over my mouth and cried. Someone I’d always known, but never been close to offered me comfort in the moment after she read what my brother had sent me. It does shine a ray of hope in a dark moment, my dear. Never think that what you’re doing isn’t making a difference. Every little thing you do matters. It’s actions like these that make me realize; we aren’t alone, truly.

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  2. I have these moments often. I understand the feelings and thoughts of “I want to help, but isn’t this going to be awkward” and later “I could’ve done more.” I remind myself it isn’t my job to have the perfect word to say, that trying is enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is so awful, seeing pain and feeling helpless to stop it. I, too, hope that you were able to brighten Mariah’s day. While I certainly don’t know everything, I do know that if a stranger acknowledged my pain, rather than simply ignoring it, that would do worlds to brighten my day. And even if you didn’t do as much as you could have this time, there will be other chances to learn how best to act out the compassion you feel in your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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