I haven’t written for some time. Writing happens when writing happens.
Today I was walking through my neighborhood Randall’s to get a few items. I meandered through the aisles with my short list on repeat in my head so that I would not forget. All of sudden, my eyes fell upon a lady. She appeared to be in her late 50’s, though truly I don’t know. More than just the eyes, my whole body was moved by her appearance; a nervous fluttering, and breathing that spontaneously felt heavy. I walked past her calmly, though my body experienced the opposite.
The following description may be too graphic for some, though I will share it because it was what I saw.
She had two black and blue eyes, a nose that was swollen and crusted with a significant amount of visible blood. Her demeanor appeared fragile, though that might have been my own projection. She was on the phone as I saw her.
I headed to the check out, though my heart felt as if it had stopped in the aisle with the lady. My heart felt uncomfortably concerned. Even while I was paying for my groceries, I kept glancing back to where I saw the lady. Was she still there? Should I just leave and go on about my evening? Should I go back and ask her if she is ok or if she needed anything? Would she tell me even if she needed help? What would I do if she said yes?
As I grabbed my grocery bag, I turned my head back one more time. She was still there on the phone. My legs started walking toward her even while my head continued with its questions. As I got closer, she was no longer on her phone.
I stood in front of her and looked gently into her eyes. I asked, “Excuse me, I hope it is ok for me to ask this, are you ok? Is there anything you need?”. She looked at me and very quickly said, “Oh thank you, I am ok. I just fell. I broke my ribs”. I had no idea of broken ribs from the surface of her appearance. “I am just coming from the doctor’s office and he fixed my nose”. There was a brief pause. I said, “Ok, I saw you and felt concerned. I wanted to check if you were ok or needed help of any kind”. Our eyes still meeting, we smiled gently at one another. I walked out of Randall’s to my car and back home to my family.
Perhaps what she said was true and perhaps it was not. I wondered, “Would a doctor really let her leave their office without a bandage of some kind?”. I guess I won’t know for sure. My gut still felt concerned for her.
I went back to the safety of my home and my family. My hope is that this lady is safe and heals. I will have to be ok with at least letting her know that I saw her and that I offered concern and care, even if for a moment.
*** I don’t know that I would have had the courage to walk back to this lady had I not taken SAFE’s advocate training this past year. I am deeply thankful for those that do this important work daily.