She’d been struggling for a while. She’d just ended a tough relationship and quit a soul sucking job with a racist, homophobic, misogynistic boss. She’d tried all the things you’re supposed to try -- exercising, no alcohol, eating well -- and nothing was working. She was depleted and had nothing left with which to fight the darkness that was overtaking her. Life seemed pointless. She didn’t want a therapist. They didn’t seem to help. And she didn’t want meds because the last time she tried them, they made her feel even worse. Maybe only if she was desperate. So I talked to her when she wanted to talk and hugged her when she couldn’t talk. I told her I would be there no matter what, that I loved her, that she was amazing and smart and beautiful and that her path would emerge if she kept forging ahead. And she limped along.
But finally one day she was desperate. She wanted -- no, she needed -- to talk to someone. But the therapists she contacted couldn’t get her in for another two weeks. She couldn’t wait two weeks. She needed to talk to someone now. And maybe she would consider trying meds again. Anything had to be better than this.
So we drove to a hospital emergency room about 20 miles away that had mental health services. She got out of the car looking scared, defeated, exhausted. We walked in together and talked to a receiving attendee -- very nice, very attentive, very understanding. And he walked her through the options. If she wanted to talk to someone today, she would need to check in. But something spooked her. She hesitated and moved over to a couch to think about it. A nurse was sent over to talk with her. Yes, there was the possibility that they might admit her. Yes...even if she didn’t want to be admitted. That probably wouldn’t happen, but no guarantees.
This, understandably, terrified her. Yet another area of her life where she felt that she didn’t have control. She balked. She stepped outside of the admitting room and into the hallway, standing against a white pillar along the wall. Crying.
I went back inside to talk to the nurse and ask a few more questions. What if I took responsibility for her? Could she be released into my care instead of being admitted? Again, that’s a possibility, but no guarantees.
I stepped out of the admitting room into the hallway to see her still crying, leaning against that pillar for support. And then I saw a small woman with long dark hair in a long colorful skirt stop by her side. The woman held out a bouquet of home-grown red roses, giving them to her, along with a hug. And then the woman walked away. This was maybe a 10 second interaction. A 10 second angel sent from heaven. I’m not sure what the woman said, or if the woman said anything at all. But when I walked up, she was still sobbing -- but not the sobbing of someone in pain. Instead, it was the sobbing of someone who has just experienced something beautiful and pure. It was the sobbing of someone realizing that there was still goodness and hope in the world.
What happened after that doesn’t matter. What matters is that some sweet soul saw a young woman crying in a hallway in a hospital and gave her hope in the form of flowers and love in the form of a hug. What caused the woman to do that? What motivated her to cut flowers from her garden and then walk through the hospital on that particular day? Does she even know the impact she had? What a generous, loving thing to do. I wish I could thank her. But since I can’t, I send up a prayer of blessing to her every time I think of this, which is often.
Today I received a Christmas card from my sister with these words inscribed on the back: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love” ~Mother Teresa. What that sweet woman did was a small thing, but it was done with such great love. And it made all of the difference.
So as this year comes to a close, and I think about the things I am grateful for, at the top of my list is that sweet little woman with home-grown roses who made the world a better place and changed someone’s life simply because of the flowers she grew and then gave away on that one day in 2018 to that one person. And this is something I will take with me into the new year -- to remember that any kindness, no matter how small it may seem to me, could be life-changing for someone else.
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife /English teacher and lavender farmer located in Dundee, Oregon.