Yesterday I made a routine stop by HEB in order to acquire necessary supplies (the ingredients for frito pie. Fritos and chili and cheese. Cause I’m classy) for my two end-of-semester-classes-where-you-bring-food.
When I got out, the woman next to me, a 70-something with bright orange red hair and penciled on eyebrows and a FABULOUS scarf adorning her neck, waved me over. As she stood, maybe 5 feet tall, willing me over with her glass-hooded eyes, I smiled but hoped I’d not offended her with my loud music or tattoos.
“Do you like this?” She asked in an unspecific and incredibly charming eastern European accent, gesturing toward half of the world, but meaning my car.
“Oh, yes, very much.”
“What it is?”
“And, why you like this one, this kind.” (I felt as though I were conversing with Princess Anastasia)
“Well, it’s sturdy and doesn’t take much maintenance. It has a lot of room and is so comfortable.”
“They tell me I must sell my car and get new one. This one, they say, not good anymore….”
She proceeds to tell me about the car dealer she went to and I, a person who thought she could not be less experienced at buying cars until that moment, feared she was going to be taken advantage of. So when she asked me to write down the name of the car, I also wrote my name and phone number. I told her I would go with her the next time she needed to go car shopping.
And then she started shaking.
“My daughter just died.” She said, making me wonder if I’d seriously mistaken the conversation we’d just had.
“I’m so sorry.” I stumbled out. Of course, this whole time, I’d been half praying, silently, that I could be Jesus to this woman, but I just thought she needed automotive advice.
“She just passed on Sunday, that’s why my son-in-law didn’t come with me. She was very wonderful, very educated…” She continued, crying, telling me about her daughter, her only daughter, who had passed away from cancer just four days previous.
“I felt so bad at home, I thought I could come out, maybe I would feel better. She was so good. She was my only daughter.”
“I’m so sorry. May I pray with you?”
“I…what is your name?”
“I am Agnes.”
And I held her and prayed the least eloquent prayer of maybe my whole life. And she shook, and she wept, and I ached for her and with her.
When I was done, she pulled away and asked me to go to the funeral on Saturday, saying she would call me and tell me the address.
I really hope she does.
I was so flabbergasted as I entered the store. What had just happened? I felt so amazingly blessed and under-qualified and called and equipped and excited and terrified, all at the same time. To hold a stranger and love her, to whisper whatever tiny blessing or comfort I could, reminded me what an extraordinary thing it is to live the breaths we have, around the extraordinary co-habitators of the planet. The dear souls who, like us, need others.
Okay, I know, now I’m getting sappy…. It was just so amazing.