Wednesday, April 19, 2017


by Judy

Just a few days ago I was sitting in a Doctor's waiting room, very much in my own head. Nervous and worried and gently rubbing my thumb back and forth over the tiny cross that my lovely neighbor gave me years ago, while staring at the crazy design on the carpeting under my feet. 

I looked up and I looked around at the other women sharing the waiting room with me.  I wondered - what are their stories?  Why are they here?  They all seem calm, but within their own heads, just as I was.  

I smiled at the older woman near me and I asked, "how are you"? A flood of words came out of her... about how she'd been cancer free for ten years now.  About how this radiologist was the best and had saved her life, but that she was still always worried that they might find more cancer. She asked me my story and I shared with her why I was there.  She asked me where I was from and about my family, and she told me about her oldest daughter just becoming a grandmother, and she a great-grandmother.  

When my name was called and I stood to follow the radiology technician, she reached out to me, touched my hand, smiled and said "good luck."  I responded with a smile and a "good luck to you too."  

That tiny bit of human interaction at a time that I really just wanted to withdraw into myself made me feel better.  And I truly think that I  made that woman feel better too.  I realized that I wasn't alone.  I wasn't the only one fearful and worried and needing a prayer.  

I'm not a big chit-chatter by nature.  I feel that I'm a friendly person, but find it difficult to carry on a conversation with a total stranger.  I am so glad that I looked up that day.  I'm so glad that I smiled at the woman and asked her how she was.  As she opened up I realized that she needed some human interaction.  We both needed that "we're in the same boat" feeling, and we're not alone with this.  

As children we are warned to not talk to strangers. I think we subconsciously carry this warning with us even as adults. But everywhere we go we are surrounded by people we don't know. Maybe the next time we're tempted to withdraw into our phones, or a book, or to put our earbuds in to prevent conversation, maybe we could just look around. If we took a second to smile and to ask "how are you"?, or to declare "nice day" it may be just the opening that a person needs to release some fear or worry, or to get something off of their chest.

Remember, these people we walk past every day, or sit next to in a waiting room, have names. They have families and worries and hopes and dreams.  Just like we do.  

 "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."  



Carol said...

Oh Judy -this is so you and the world needs more like you! I see this happen all the time in my waiting room and I also see it happen in my room. Engaging with my many random patients has taught me many lessons and let me hear many life stories. I too don't talk to stranhpgers easily, but when it happens as it did with you, it's such a comfort to all. You're a good person and I'm glad someone was there who responded to you

terriporter said...

What a gift that there was someone there when you needed them and that you could be there for them as well. I used to think my mom was a little nutty because she talked to EVERYBODY. But now I love that about her and find myself doing the same. You never know what the person next to you is going through and a friendly smile and "how are you" might be just what they need. How wonderful that you sat next to someone who not only gave you what you needed but who you could give back to. A blessing!

Dotti said...

Isn't it wonderful how that kind word seems to appear from nowhere, just when we need it?

When I lived in metropolitan areas, I tended not to speak to many strangers. It just isn't done. When I moved "down South", that all changed. Most people smile and nod even if a greeting is not exchanged. It's common to make a small chit chat with service people, and I do the same with people next to me in lines. Everybody needs a friendly word. I like to think perhaps I've lightened their load just a wee bit.

And, coincidentally, I had this experience just last evening. There is an elderly neighbor who lives at the other end of the street, we've exchanged neighborly chit chat for years. I noticed she's not been out and about lately and told myself I really ought to check on her. Did I do it? No. I came upon her last evening and stopped, asked her how she was. She said she was better and asked if I knew she'd had cancer. No. I did not. (She'll be 87.) We chatted about it and I went on my way, saying, Shame on you, Dotti! Follow your instincts to be kind, especially to elderly people who live alone. After all, I know how much it meant to my mother when neighbors would check on her. So you can bet I'll be checking up on her regularly from now on.

Thank you, Judy, for the reminder to be the good we want to see in this world.

Nadeen said...

Beautifully said and illustrated.

Focusing on Life said...

I always feel blessed when I stop for a moment and chat with a stranger. It is definitely hard for me, but it's well worth the effort. I'm wishing you good luck, too!

Liz said...

Beautiful story! Random acts of kindness certainly make a huge difference.

Sandra said...

What a beautiful connection when two human beings reach out to each other and give part of who they are to the other, just when it's the perfect moment!

kelly said...

Such a good reminder Judy that we are all travelling along this journey together. xoxo

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