Little Holiday Prayer
A young single parent of two girls ages 14 and 2, "Tonya" was depressed and stressed. I offered her a little understanding and prayer. Perhaps it is enough.
Date: 11/23/2006 4:08:31 AM ( 15 y ) ... viewed 2253 times
I met Tonya late yesterday afternoon, seemingly by chance, in a crowded parking lot next to a photocopy store not far from where I live. The parking lot was in chaos with cars zooming in and out and nary an empty space to be found, largely because the adjacent restaurant had a line out the door and around the block with people waiting to purchase their Thanksgiving hams and turkeys. Tonya was sitting in the passenger side of her car when the space next to her opened up, right in front of me. I pulled in. We both tried to open our car doors at the same time. I smiled at her as she let me get out of my car first. She opened her door to get out; I said, amiably, "what a zoo this place is!" She agreed, and told me that she had taken a temporary Holiday job at that restaurant.
"I have to tell you what happened to me" she said. She told me that a customer, disgruntled and tired from the long wait in line, had threatened to hit her. Tonya had been on her feet all day and was exhausted; this was her "last straw." Avoiding an altercation with the customer, she had left the restaurant without her boss's permission to wait in her car until she cooled down. I listened patiently. She went on to tell me she had a bad back and the doctor told her that she shouldn't be on her feet that long, but she had to work. She was newly out from Nevada where she was taking an unpaid leave from her job as a security officer for a city transportation company. She had come to California to be with her mother through the Holidays. She said several times, "I am so stressed"; apparently she and her mother were not getting along, and there were financial problems.
Tonya was sick and in pain from her back and an undiagnosed problem with her stomach. I suggested she may want to call the personnel department from her job in Nevada and ask if she has any short-term disability leave, either through her job or with the state of Nevada; this could help her to get money and give her a break while she sought medical help. She thanked me for the suggestion, she hadn't thought of that. She needed to take her pain medication but didn't have any water; I reached into my car and gave her a bottle. I told her I understood what it was like to be in pain and ill and have to work. I told her I was on disability. She looked at me disbelievingly--"You look great!" she said. I told her she looked healthy to me, too. She said "but I'm sick!" I replied, "I know you are. I believe you. I understand. I've been there, too."
Tonya got out of her car. She took her medication. Then she said, "you know, sometimes I just don't want to live. At home, I lay on the couch and cry. I've thought of killing myself." I told her I understood, that I'd been there, too, and had thought of suicide frequently after I became too ill to work. I told her at those times, I promised myself I'd stay alive for my children, if not for myself. I asked if I could pray for her, and she said yes. I wrote down my name and phone number for her and told her to call me if she wanted to. She gave me her name and number and asked, "is it ok if I call you tonight, or should I wait until after Thanksgiving?" I told her she could do either, that it was ok for her to call me tonight as I'd be home.
Tonya was concerned about being away from her job for so long, "they'll probably fire me when I walk back in". Then she added, "I feel so bad, I just don't care anymore" and turned away. I said to her back "I understand. I've felt that way, too." I gazed after her. She was about 15 feet away when she turned back to me and said, "I want to live for my children". I told her I was glad to hear it, that I was concerned about her going back into that restaurant feeling as despondent as when she'd left it to go and sit in her car. "I know," she said, and she turned away again.
I closed my eyes as I stood there and offered a little prayer that Tonya be surrounded by Spirit's Love and Light. When I opened my eyes she was out of sight. I went about my business at the photocopy store. A half-hour later I walked back out to the parking lot. Tonya's car was still there, parked next to mine. "She hasn't been fired, and she didn't leave early to go home sick", I thought. I drove home.
Tonya didn't call me tonight. If I don't hear from her, I'm not certain if I will call her next week or wait for her to call me. She may be feeling embarassed that she opened up her heart to me. She may need some time. Sometimes, when you offer someone a hand, you have to wait until they reach out to take yours in return. And sometimes, bearing witness to a person's pain and offering a little understanding and a little prayer is enough.
May you find your inner strength, Tonya. And have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Love and Light,
Thanksgiving Morning, 2:00 a.m PST, November 23, 2006
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