As I clutched my hip while climbing the stairs to NJ Transit, a woman said she hoped I feel better then she shook her head and looked me up and down. I could hear the pity clouding her words and see it in her face. But, I smiled anyway and thanked her, knowing my life, even with its challenges is blessed.
Within an hour, I had more proof that was true. My regular coffee guy welcomed me back to work, one week after my latest back procedure, by not charging me for my morning meal. Moments later, as I got to the door to my office with a bag in one hand and my cane in the other, the security guard rushed over to open it, moved the sign and buzzed me in. Just then, my co-worker, Brian, held the elevator and let me walk in first. As I stepped foot onto my floor, I received a cheerful welcome like I the kind given to a soldier who has returned home from war.
It appeared nothing there had changed but I had. I was already tired and hurt. The only thing that distracted me from my misery was that my co-worked John saved me from the task of buying my weekly candy stash by doing it for me and leaving it my drawer. Four people, Alex, Jay, Alexa and Kim immediately offered to help me with whatever I might need. All of this was before 10 am.
By lunchtime offers poured in to get my meal. Rather than accept, I took a short walk. The burning in my hip and numbness in my feet started to signal I’d come back to work too soon. As I leaned, hunched over my desk contemplating my poor decision making, Jay came over with a surprise; a bag containing two ice packs from his home that he’d give and retrieved during lunch.
“I’m not usually a cheap date,” I said. “But, I’m floored. These are better than any flowers, candy or card I’d ever seen.”
For the rest of the day, I sat with the ice on my back, blissfully free of any additional pain. I worked alongside my co-workers, nearly forgetting how my condition had almost made me give in.
When I rose at the end of the day to go home, my co-worker Mary came over to check on me; that’s when she learned I was running to the doctor. She stopped and reached to give me the money to take a cab there so I wouldn’t have to walk. Brian overheard and offered to give a ride any time I felt I couldn’t make it on my own. Of course, I refused the cash and the ride but my heart was bursting with joy. Mary didn’t give in. She was determined to aid me so she instructed Jim, a reporter and co-worker, to make sure I made it safely to the train.
I leisurely walked over to the number one train. I was oblivious to the sign that told me one was coming as I cautiously went down the stairs. As I got through the turnstile I heard the bell, telling me the doors were about to close. I looked up and good-looking stranger had his foot in the door. I waved to tell him to release it but he didn’t. He stuck his arm out and told me it was okay. I turned to thank him and he said it wasn’t necessary.
“It’s the right thing to do and I hope someone would do it for me,” he said.
I honestly didn’t know if they would but I know in my life when I am weak those around me carry me. The see my needs and meet them without being asked or requiring anything in return. I have more help than most people and that’s certainly nothing to pity.