Pretty much every other morning, I hit the road walking the hills around my home. It is an amazing time of day, especially these mornings in August when the air is crisp and yet promises a brilliant summer day. It’s a time I cherish.
Along this path, I realize I have neighbors whom I have never met. We give a cordial greeting when we see each other in our vehicles, but it is a little sad to me that there are friends around me I haven’t introduced myself to yet. One family in particular has a special place in my heart. I have only heard their story through other people, but it has affected me deeply. They have suffered the worst of all tragedies: losing their young son to a sudden, inexplicable illness more than three years ago.
On my walk, I pass by their house. Each time, without fail, I think of their son. Again, I had never met him. But I used to see him drive by. We smiled and continued on when our paths would cross. In that way, I knew him, but we had never shared a word.
When I see his parents outside, I always considered going up to them.
But something has always stopped me. Fear.
What am I afraid of? I guess there’s a fear of saying the wrong thing. Of causing incredible pain or ruining their day. The fear of rejection, of making a fool of myself, of falling on my face as I extend my hand. All that rational stuff.
Whatever this ridiculous fear is, I kick myself after every missed opportunity, recognizing that fear is nothing compared to the potential comfort I could give to this family. A reminder that all is not forgotten—even a stranger remembers.
Another opportunity presented itself. The other day I drove by and realized that my heavenly friend’s father was outside washing his car. I pulled up, and I sat in my own vehicle for a second.
And I panicked. No thoughts ran through my head–just a sensational of utter panic.
But you know what, I felt that fear, and I put the car in park in the middle of the street and got out anyway.
So then, you won’t believe it, I tripped.
Actually, that’s not true. Dumb joke.
In all seriousness, I marched up to this man with all the courage I could muster, introduced myself, and I told him the story. I told him that I walk by his house 4 or 5 times a week and each time I think of his son. His son still has a presence in that house, and I am a humble reminder of that.
I could see in the man’s eyes that he was totally caught off-guard and appreciative simultaneously. Grateful. He offered some personal sentiments that remain off this blog, but I could feel the outpour of this man’s heart as he released some of that burden of loss and grief.
Maybe, for a second, he was able to sit in peace. How lucky am I that I got to offer that for the moment.
If someone you know is having a tough time, it can be scary to speak up to her. What if I say the wrong thing? What if she gets mad? Even if she does get angry, at least you did something. At least you took action to pass along peace to another. And more likely than not, you could make someone’s day. You could even make a new friend.
I promise, the rewards are immeasurable.