Be The Change…
Growing up, I had no role model of unconditional love in my immediate or family circles. Neither was there anyone who showed me how to give without expecting anything in return. Kindness, empathy or simply lending a listening ear to a neighbour, stranger or even a supposed loved one was not something that was common in the early years of my life.
Thirty years into my journey before these lessons started to seep in. Learning to open myself to the teachings was challenging, downright hard at times as they often came in painful experiences. Yesterday, in my Saturday post, the topic of the conversation was thriving in whatever circumstance you find yourself. That was one of my greatest lessons and it came through the devastating experience of having a relationship end, one that I had convinced myself was for life. Once that lesson was learned, it then became my promise to The Universe and to myself that my mess would become my message, and to touch even one life everyday, be it just with a smile.
Read The Signs
In that same post, “How To Use Your Gifts To Thrive Wherever You Are,” my itinerary for the day was shared and after publishing it, I went about getting what was on my schedule done. There is never a day that I am specific or even intentional about who or where my support would be offered. So, going about my business it was not on my mind that I would meet anyone and touch their lives or they would return the favour.
I am somewhat of a bargain shopper. Those who know me very well, will tell you that clothes shopping is not something high on my list. I do it only when necessary and it is a brief visit to the mall or a department store, literally grabbing items that match my tastes and style and I am out of there. Grocery shopping and looking for household decor, especially items for my bathroom, is a completely different matter. Hours upon hours will pass and I am waltzing through thrift stores or stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, HomeSense, etc.
My first stop was at one such place and after browsing for an hour, I found some treasures – a frying pan, a small pot for boiling my morning egg and a couple of wall plaques for my kitchen. Waited in line to pay for them, there were two people ahead of me, and after the cashier rang me up, smiling at deals that I had found reached for my purse only to find it missing! I apologized and ran to the car to find it but it was not there, so I went back in and asked the cashier whether she could hang on to the items for a half an hour. She agreed.
Got home and found my purse sitting atop my old laptop that is rarely used since I got a new one a couple of months ago. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “Are you trying to tell me something Universe? Should I have not bought those items?”
This rarely happens to me – that my purse is out of my handbag as, the cheap skate that I am, changing handbags is not something that I do often. I carry the same black one with just about every outfit. No, I am not a diva. Why then was my purse not in my handbag? Signs are important to me and things are not always what they seem. I paused for a few minutes and asked, “Should I go back for the items?”
The Holy Encounter
Five minutes later, after a quick stop to use the facilities, I was driving in the opposite direction heading for a liquidation store. Did I say I love bargains? My decision was not to return for the items so I called an apologized and headed out.
I saw her immediately as I entered the store. Well, no one could miss her as she was the human loudspeaker, loudly letting shoppers know what the deals of the day were. “Fifty percent off …..!” she was booming for everyone to hear. Smiling, I passed her and went by her to the left of the store where they display paintings and other wall hangings. That was my focus for coming to this store; some of my walls are quite bare although I have lived at my current place for just over a year now.
See, I am also somewhat of a nomad and knowing this, I hesitated about settling in here uncertain whether my stay would be long. Relocating is sort of a pastime for me, loving to move, travel and set up in a new place ever so often. The arrival of my granddaughter, however, seemed to have clipped my wings a bit and now my primary thoughts around moving are centered on being closer to her home. That is another story for another day.
Back to the Greeter. I found a curious item and not sure what to do with it or where in my place it would fit best, I snapped a couple of pictures (why, I did not know then), put it in my shopping cart and headed to the rear of the store where there were more paintings. Another shopper was back there foraging as well through the multitude of options.
“Do you know whether it’s fifty percent off these as well?” I asked her.
“I was just about to ask you the same thing because if it is I am going to grab a few!” she laughed.
Placing the pieces that I thought would fit in my space in the shopping cart, I made my way to the front to verify with the Greeter, whose name tag said “Claire.” (Name changed to protect identity)
“Claire, hi!” I greeted her in a lower volume than hers. “Are these also fifty percent off?”
“No dear, just clothing,” she said, “Didn’t I tell you when you came in? I thought I caught everyone and you are so pretty I can’t believe I missed you?” she lamented.
Flattery will get you a couple of inches with me, so I flashed her one of my sweetest smiles and went back to tell my co-bargain shopper the sad news. She did not take it well and moved away from the area. I, however, continued digging after putting back the other pieces that were out of my price range. Then, my eyes caught the piece and I knew I was going to have it whatever the cost even if it meant not eating until next payday.
The Blessing And Benediction
Browsed a few more minutes and then headed to check out. I returned what turned out to be a wine holder although I do have exactly four bottles of wine at home that were gifts to me from suitors that clearly found no long-term favour with me, so their wines are maturing in my pantry.
“Oh my God, I love that one!” Claire screamed as I again went by her. “Come back here and let me tell you the story,” she commanded.
Not one to follow orders, I for some reason put the wine holder back in its place and went to Claire. She looked at the picture in my shopping cart with so much love in her eyes that I knew I had to hear this story. Pulling me out of the way so that other shoppers could get by us, she told me.
“This picture reminds me of my sister who committed suicide on August 5,” Claire said and her eyes started brimming with tears. My instinct was to hold her but Canadians can get weird about being touched so I embraced her with my silence instead.
“She went out to the woods and did it. We had not heard from her in days and finally the police found her body.”
The pain of the memory was so vivid I could no longer hold back, so I started rubbing her arm. Claire eased into my touch and continued, “She left behind three children, one seven, one 16 and another 22. It has been so hard for them, hard for the entire family.”
“When we got the news, I had only two days before I had to come back to work and I thought I couldn’t do it but you know what, it was good to be back and have some distraction,” she shared. I hugged her and she wept on my white blouse but that did not matter.
“Claire, I can only imagine your pain,” I consoled her, “But, may I say this? It wasn’t your fault or anyone else’ fault, your sister made a decision, hard as it clearly still is for you to cope with.”
“I have been where she was,” I shared with her, “I tried twice to kill myself a few years ago.”
She pulled away from me, not from repulsion but to look me in my eyes, “I am so glad you are still here, so glad,” she said and then kissed my hand.
Asked And Answered
My earlier question was clearly answered in that moment. I had to have left my purse on my desk. I had to come to this store. I had to meet Claire. In fifteen minutes, we loved, blessed and affirmed each other’s journey and purpose. As I was about to leave, I told her that I wanted her to have the painting, handing it to her along with the receipt. She declined it.
“No, you keep it and remember me. I am so glad you came here today and that you shared your story with me. You helped me to release some of the pain that I was feeling and your beautiful granddaughter will be happy that you are still here,” she kindly refused but that benediction was what I needed.
The picture is now hanging in my living room, where my granddaughter and I would dance later that evening. It is on my “Colour of Life” wall in remembrance of Claire and our meeting and mutual blessing of each other. Her parting words to me were “Never let anyone drag you down, you have an awesome vibe, your energy is pure.”
So distracted by my holy encounter, it did not immediately click that The Universe had kissed me further until I got home and was about to put away the receipt. I got the picture at 50% off!!! What a day!
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Have a wonderful and amazing Sunday!