When I was 10 years old, two weeks before Christmas on a bitter cold Chicago morning, my mom and I were out driving doing errands. I remember thinking how all I wanted to do was get home, wrap myself in my blankets and watch cartoons.
As we were approaching a t-stop intersection we had the stop sign, the other side had the right of way. My mom stopped completely, looked both ways and then proceeded to go. All of a sudden, out on nowhere, this car comes flying up behind us furiously beeping the horn and the person behind the wheel was shaking their fist wildly towards us.
As we pulled up to the red light and stopped, the car was right on our bumper. An angry woman jumped out, stormed over to the drivers side window and started pounding on the glass, screaming all sorts of obscenities.
Now, let me preface this by saying that my mother is by no means a gentle flower, she definitely was and still is, a force to be reckoned with.
Staring at the wild eyes through the window, my mother looked over at me and told me to stay inside & lock the door. With that, she pushed her way out to confront the craziness.
What did happen next was quite unexpected. My mom stood there, still unusually calm as the lady fell into my mother’s arms hysterically crying, right there in the middle of a main road, at a streetlight in Chicago, in minus 10 degree weather. My mom just held her and let her cry.
It turned out that just a few weeks previous, her husband and two small children were out driving, picking up last minute presents when they entered the same t-stop. Her husband had the right of way and didn’t see the drunk driver who blew through the stop sign until it was too late, they were all killed instantly.
That morning, approaching the same intersection, something had been triggered and she snapped. Through her tears she kept repeating that she didn’t know what to do with the Christmas presents, should she give them away, should she keep them? What was she going to do without her family, how would she survive the holidays and go on without them? She was not so sure that she could.
It was absolutely heartbreaking, but at the same time it was absolutely mesmerizing watching these two strangers come together at such a detrimental moment in time. This whole scene lasted about 20 minutes and by the end, tears frozen on the faces of both women, they embraced one last time, my mother got into the car and we drove away.
I really don’t remember much more about what happened that day because I was so lost in thought, contemplating what had happened. My mother and I never spoke of it. I do know though that this moment in time has continually followed me throughout my life.
I have found myself in similar strange circumstances, where out of nowhere and unprovoked, a stranger has lashed out in some manner. Like my mother, during these times I have become unusually calm and accepted what was happening. In none of these situations though did I find out what was the cause of the unprovoked lashing, but something inside me understood where it might be coming from.
I am telling this story because I think it is important to allow yourself to walk in others shoes sometimes and not always take things at face value. That morning, so long ago two weeks before Christmas, my mom may just have saved a life and helped a grieving mother and wife find a little peace.
Today on World Suicide Prevention Day, see if you can lend a little peace to someone hurting around you. Be part of the solution and maybe save a life.