I placed my lunch on the counter while talking to my co-worker Jenna about our first few hours using Dalet, a new writing/editing program. I was so preoccupied venting my frustrations and concerns I hadn’t even looked around me. I was fumbling with my cane and searching through my wallet for my value points card when I heard Jenna ask our regular cashier, Maria, if she was okay.
“What’s wrong?” Jenna continued. “Can we help?”
“I can’t talk about it but I could use a hug.”
Instantly, I was uncomfortable. I see Maria every day but I don’t know her. We exchange jokes and pleasantries but I don’t know her last name or where she lives. I’m also generally uncomfortable with affection. But, her pain was palatable. She tried to dry her tears but couldn’t stop them from flowing. Before I knew it she leaned forward and Jenna and I reached out her.
She wiped the water from her eyes as Jenna walked away. Then, Maria turned to me and apologized for needing comfort.
“Don’t be sorry,” I said. “You made our day. We were doubting if we’ve been doing anything well enough all day. Now, we know we’ve done something right. We came here, we saw you, and we made you smile. And, you know us, we’ll do anything to get a break from doing work. But, you should know I only give one hug a year to my friends. You’ve used yours up.”
Maria finally smiled then laughed.
#randomactofkindness #stranger #hug #chronicillness #chronicpain #lunch #disability #autoimmunedisease