I thought that I would be okay to go to work yesterday.
“Nicole, just tough it through one day,” I told myself. “Then you can take the next three days off from work as bereavement time.”
Sounded good when I said it over in my head. And I honestly thought that nothing at work could spark the tears that have been flowing quite freely these past few days. But I arrived at work for 8am and was in tears by 8:07am. So much for being tough throughout the day. There I was, crying and looking for a tissue… and laughing because –well– it was better than crying. I was quite the office drama.
And I noticed that everyone avoided me like the plague for the rest of the day. I think they were afraid that I might lose it again… and then they wouldn’t know what to do.
During lunch, I had to make a run to the grocery store. By this point, my makeup had been fixed a bit (no raccoon eyes) and my eyes were dry. In fact, if you just rushed past me, you would see a confident, quiet young woman. I even smiled at the checkout counter girl and made small talk. I was the perfect image of a girl who was absolutely fine… even if I was a wreck inside.
While walking through the parking lot to my car, I noticed that life for everyone else was moving forward as always. A woman — balancing a kid on one hip and an iced coffee in her free hand — rushed to her car. An EMT was casually eating a salad for lunch, treating the parking lot as though it were some kind of diner. A little boy was skipping over to his grandmother, and a man in a suit talked on a phone while sitting in his fancy sports car. Life was rushing past and no one knew that this curly-haired girl had just lost someone she loved.
And it made me think… How many people do I pass by every day who are hurting like this? How many people at work put on a brave face but are really crying inside? How many people do you see every day that look perfectly fine but are feeling as though their entire world is crashing down around them.
It makes me want to slow down… Not just now but also in the future. It makes me want to see people. Not just to look at them, but to really see them for the human being that they are. Because maybe — just maybe — they need someone to be there for them and not just someone who is going to rush by without a thought. Sometimes, even just a sympathetic smile is enough. Sometimes, you just need to know that someone saw you.