Everyday Angels

A few days ago, I lost one of my very close friends to cancer. I have had the privilege of knowing and loving this woman and her family for many years, so the loss is keenly felt. This is especially true because she is probably the reason I’m writing this blog post, and indeed am writing at all.  Hmmm…that’s not quite right.  I’m sure I would have still been writing if we hadn’t met–I’ve been doing that my whole life.  But I’m not sure I would have thought that publishing and putting my stories out for other people to read was a valid pursuit without her encouragement and support.  Back when I didn’t think anyone would want to read something I’d written, and assumed it was all a hobby and a waste of time, she assured me it was not.  Even though she didn’t always appreciate WHAT I wrote, she was firm in her feeling it was something I should do.  That belief helped me do it.  

Our friendship wasn’t always a comfortable thing and sometimes had its challenges–but that’s the way it goes when you know someone for a really long time.  She was always there for me, and I’m going to miss her a heck of a lot.

As I was thinking about her, and trying to figure out what to do for the blog this week, I realized I had already written something back in 2011 that might be a good fit for this situation and decided to repost it.  Because the truth is, we never really know the influence we have on other people.

 

Today I’d like to tell you a more serious story.   It’s kind of long, and a little sad in places, but don’t worry–everything turns out okay in the end.  And it includes some angels.

Once upon a time, there was a girl. We’ll call her “B.”  B had a lot of problems, not the least of which was that she was being “picked on” at school on a daily basis.  The kids doing it tended to be cruel, cutting, and constant in their “attentions.” B had been the focus of such attentions in elementary school but they really ratcheted up once she got to junior high school.  You see, B was very chubby, very shy, somewhat geeky, and scared. In other words, she was the perfect target. Things got pretty intense for a while.  B’s thoughts were…not good.

Then at the beginning of 9th grade, B walked into a Home Economics class a little late so everyone was already sitting around tables. The only available seat was at a table with boys. Boys had been B’s most dedicated tormentors (although some of the girls certainly contributed, too). Anyway, as B stood, not knowing what to do, one of the boys at the table looked up, smiled, and said. “Here’s an empty chair. Why don’t you sit with us?”

B sat at the table and eventually she and the boy became friends. She made friends with the other kids at the table too.  It was a turning point that came just at the right time.

Fast forward to 11th grade. B had taken on a project that was far beyond her capabilities, bitten off way, WAY more than she could chew. It was a lot of responsibility, and she didn’t know what she was doing or how to handle it. She felt helpless and afraid. Because of who B is, she locked all of those feelings up deep inside. Everything kept winding tighter and tighter inside her until she really thought she was going insane. She probably was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She might even have been having one.

Then there was this girl. This girl and B had been friends for a long time, although B could be a real jackass and had a lot of issues. The girl had remained B’s friend even when she probably shouldn’t have. When B was at her worst in this particular situation, the girl knew B was in trouble. She said, “You’re really upset. You need to get away from this. Why don’t you come out with me and my grandmother?”

B went with them. She couldn’t quite explain it, but it was like a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. There’d been an elephant stepping on her chest, and after that small trip, it eased off a little bit. She still sucked at what she was trying to do, but she had a friend who cared enough about her to see it.

This boy and this girl were everyday angels in B’s life. There were other angels too, and they kept materializing as the years went by [including, but not limited to the woman I mentioned in my intro]. The angels always seemed to show up when things were at their worst, offering encouragement or hope.  And, in part due to their timely interventions, B has lived and grown and even managed to thrive. After a while, she learned that sometimes she could be an angel too.

I guess all that I’m trying to say here, in a very long-winded way, is that we just never know. We don’t know how something we say, some little action, will impact another person. We don’t know if we are going to be somebody’s angel. We don’t know if a little remark, a simple act of kindness, a throwaway gesture, will save someone. We don’t know if our cruelty will destroy them.

So please think before you speak, people. We can be angels, or we can be demons. The choice is completely up to us.

P.S. – this post is for all of my many, many angels. Love you guys.  Thanks.

I don’t know if my friend who just passed away knew she was one of my angels, but she was.  I don’t know if all of the people who helped me last year when I was going through such a difficult time knew, but they were angels, too.  Seriously, we just never know.  Without even realizing it, you may be exactly what the person you’re dealing with needed today.  Or vice versa.

 

 

 

 

 

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