I have a story. We all have a story. On December 9th, 2009 the phone rang unexpectedly. The clock said 11:15am. The only words I registered on the other end were, Your father…he’s gone. I have spent every December 9th for the last ten years the exact same way. I dig out the few photos I have and try and remember every detail of the days they were taken. I imagine where we’d be today. And then I pick myself up and make my way to a coffee shop, where I sit alone with my thoughts until I’m ready to continue on with my day.
In ten years, I have come to appreciate the kindness of strangers and friends on this day. Friends know I am content to be in my own space, moving at my own pace with no expectation of returning messages or answering the phone. Strangers, however, have no idea. How could they? As I sit today tucked in the back corner of this coffee shop, earbuds in – music quiets the loud of the world around me – I look around. There is a buzz. People are going about their morning. Meeting friends. Working. Enjoying each other’s company. I once had a really difficult time with this. How could people just go about their days while I wandered through mine filled with grief, anger, sadness? Somewhere along this ten-year path, I’ve come to appreciate it.
Today, the waitress has a pot of coffee with my name on it. She intuitively knows I would like to be left alone. She smiles and brings me hot coffee when she sees my empty mug. Her smile is kind. Next to me are two colleagues. I have no idea what they’re talking about. But they’re happy. She asked if she could borrow my pen. She was so grateful – as though I had just given her a gift. He smiled and nodded in appreciation. It was a just pen. Kindness. I appreciate their kindness.
It’s kindness – simple gestures – that can make or break someone’s day. Everyone in this place has a story. A story filled with happiness and heartache. I have a story. These people, these strangers, their kindness, their simple gestures have become a part of my story. There is truth to the saying everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about…be kind. Be the person outside who held the door while I tried to escape the rain to get in here. Be the waitress who smiles and nods each time she passes. Be the girl who so gratefully borrowed my pen.
December 9th has become a day of peace. I choose to spend it amongst the company of strangers. I find serenity in their indifference, calm in their kindness. Everyone has a story. Be a part of their story. Be kind.