You know, it’s easy to write a story. I can think up a character and put him in all kinds of situations. Just like my last entry, I can write a story where the character gets picked on and then finds the inner strength to overcome it. The thing is, though, no matter what I write, that character doesn't exist and every situation that he gets into, every feeling that he has is totally make believe. There is no physical attachment between me and the character. It's not real life.
On the other hand, real life hit me in the gut this morning after I got to work. I started my normal routine of checking e-mails and following up on items that I had been working on yesterday when an older woman that I work with brought a sympathy card to me. One of the guy's mothers had passed away and, like normally happens, a card is passed around for everyone to sign. Mary was standing there waiting for me to sign the card when she whispered something that I couldn't quite understand. I work in a loud factory and it is often hard to hear, so I finished signing the card and turned to face her so I could pay close attention to what she was saying, "What did you say?"
She said, "My brother was killed on Saturday."
I blinked in disbelief, not expecting this kind of news at all, especially from the person who was passing around a sympathy card for someone else. I can honestly say that my heart started hurting when she told me that. In a clumsy, stuttering voice I told her that I was sorry and she started telling me what happened. Her eyes watered up and she told me how a 17 year old boy swerved off the road and then jerked back on, sending his car across the road head on into her brother's car. Her brother was killed instantly and the young boy died on the way to the hospital.
What do you say at a time like that? "I'm sorry" just doesn't seem like enough, but that's all that I found myself saying. She managed to fake a little smile and said, "Thank you." Then she was walking away, off to get the sympathy card signed by someone else.
I have more respect for that woman than she will ever know. Here she was, grieving over the loss of her brother, and she was doing every thing she could to comfort someone else in their time of grief. It humbled me and I have been thinking about it ever since. Life can be so unpredictable… and so painful.