Hello and good day!
I hadn't seen her for a long time. But I saw her yesterday. She is the vibrant young mom who comes around the shopping center pushing her little two-year-old daughter in a stroller.
She is popular. Everybody who works in the center knows her and calls out when they see her. She flashes a bright smile and calls back, sticking her arm high up in the air and waving.
The smile lifts you up. It makes you feel good. She smiles from deep within and when the smile is aimed in your direction, it warms you up and makes you smile too.
The problem was that yesterday the smile didn't have its normal shine. Her walk didn't have its usual energetic pace. She'd cut her long hair short and had lost a lot of weight. She was skin and bones and her smile was weak.
When I saw her, I stopped to talk. "How have you been?" I asked. "I haven't seen you around." "I've been sick," she said, looking down at the ground.
I know from previous conversations that she is a single mother. One time in our shop, while drinking a free hot chocolate with her daughter, she told us that she was a foster child.
She'd been abandoned by both of her parents and brought up in foster homes. From what I could gather, her various foster parents weren't good to her. She has another child, an older son, who lives with his father in a different city.
"Who took care of your daughter while you were sick?" I asked. "She stayed with her dad," she said. "He lives around here?" I asked. "Yes, not too far," she answered.
'He's a good dad?" I asked. "He's alright," she said.
I used to see this young mom every day, walking around, pushing her daughter in the stroller. Because she was always with the daughter, and she told us she was a single mother, I didn't even think about the dad. I figured the dad might have walked out on them.
Good to know the dad is still around, especially if the mom is sick. "You look skinnier. Are you alright?" I asked. She looked down at the ground and then back up at me The whites of her eyes were creamy yellow.
Her daughter was sitting in the stroller, not moving or fidgeting. She was just sitting there, looking out at the parking lot and the shops.
"I'm on dialysis," she said."Dialysis?" I was worried for her. "Your kidneys are bad?" I asked. "They've failed," she said.
"Are you on a donor list?" I asked "Yes", she said.
She looked down again and then back up. "I've been on dialysis this whole time you've known me. I do the treatments every night at home," she said. "But I stopped for a while and my daughter had to go stay with her dad," she said.
"Are you feeling better now?" I asked. "A little," she said. "Why did you stop?" I asked. She took a long pause and looked all around. The sky is smoky right now from wildfires in Canada. The sun turns red when it is smoky. he blue sky was covered in a mist of smoke, making the hot, sunny day feel foggy.
"The voices in my head," she said.
I didn't know what to say. I looked at her and waited.
"The voices start telling me I'm not worth anything and then I stop doing my treatment," she said."Is it because of your childhood?" I asked.
"Yes, from being a foster kid. I can't shake the feeling that I'm not worth anything. It comes and goes, but the voices always end up convincing me," she said. She didn't tear up or start crying. She said it as a matter of fact, with great strength and acceptance.
"You've never been able to control the voices in your head?" I asked. She shook her head, no. We stood there in silence. I didn't know what to say. What can you say to a person who you wish you could help, but a few words can't fix a lifetime of pain?
I have my own definition of wisdom. I don't like the formal definitions, so I came up with my own.The right truth at the right time.
There are a lot of truths in this world.
Gravity. The world is round. We breathe oxygen.The sky is blue.Birds sing.Dogs bark.Wildfire smoke turns the sun red.
None of those truths help a person who quits dialysis because the voices in her head tell her she is worthless.
"Can I tell you something?" I asked."Sure," she said. "You're a good person. Thats a fact," I said.
We looked at each other. "So, I should just get over it then huh? Leave the past behind and move on?" She didn't say it defensively.She said it as though she were considering it as an option.
"I don't know about all that. I'm not a psychiatrist. I don't know if a person can just move on. But you are a good person," I said.
"You think so?" she asked. "Yeah. I'm out here a lot. Nobody else has people yelling hi to them across the parking lot. Nobody else has picnics with their daughter everyday under the trees near the entrance. You're the only one," I said.
She thought about that for a few seconds. "Thank you for that," she said.
"It's the truth. I'm just telling you the truth," I said.
A toothache needs a dentist to fix it. You can't wish it away. It needs real treatment. But a pain killer can get you through the night so that you are able to rest at least a little. Such is the case with kind words and the right truth.
You can at least give a person a moment of rest. I hope that my friend wins the battle against the voices in her head. She is a good person.
Thank you so much for your time today.I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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