Tonight at work was a pretty somber night. As we were about to close, a man walked in to grab something to eat. Of course , my judgmental mind automatically thought, “Great. Some guy coming in as we’re about to pack up.” How rude my judgment was. I greeted him at the door, and I asked robotically, “Just one tonight, sir?” He mumbled back something, to which I assumed was a yes. I could not have fathomed how powerful my question was. I could not have fathomed how powerful the question that so easily rolled off of my routined tongue, was. I sat him down, and asked him what he would like to drink. It was then when we made eye contact. His eyes were not even eyes. They were like windows; they were like windows to an empty soul. His smile and tired eyebrows seemed to attempt to mask what may have just taken the entire essence of his being earlier today. He ordered his breakfast, and so I went back to ring it up in the computer. While I was in the kitchen, the bartender came up to me with tears forming in her eyes. She said to me, “Make sure you be extra nice to this man . . . his daughter just died.” Needless to say, I was in shock. The random stranger I was serving, had lost his child moments ago. I took a moment to process what she had just said, and then carried his food out to him. It was difficult to look him in the eye, because not only did I not want to break down into tears, but I had realized why his eyes were so painfully vacant. I managed to look up at him for a moment, and softly say, “I am so, so sorry for your loss sir.” As heartfelt as it was, how could words ever begin to do justice to such a pain? He told us that he was in Alamosa because he was on his way back home, when his truck broke down. I did not want to ask, but I’m not sure that he was even able to see his daughter. That may have been where he was headed. It broke my heart to know that this man had not only lost his daughter, but was stranded 30 miles from home. I went back into the kitchen, and prayed to God to please send a verse. Send me one verse to give to this man. The next moment, I grabbed a sheet from my server-note-taker and a marker. What I wrote down, was not a verse that I had ever had memorized. To this day, I still can’t, and never could remember this verse off of the top of my head. Even now as I type this blog entry, I’m having to refer to my Bible and look at what the verse it. In this moment though, it was fresh in my mind, and I wrote down (what turns out to be Psalm 34:18),
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit”
I wrote it on the sheet of paper, and went out to the restaurant. The man had left. I ran out of the restaurant, and into the parking lot. I looked to my right, and saw him walking along the side of the hotel. As I looked at him, he turned to look at me, almost as if he had expected somebody to come out of those doors, even though he was an entire building away. “Sir!” I yelled. I ran up to him, and handed him the slip of paper. Knowing I had to finish up my side work in the kitchen for the night, I ran back inside, but told him either “I’m sorry” or “Have a good night”. I’m not quite sure which.
People always say, “Life is Short”. They say to treasure the moments that you have with those you love because you never know the last time that you will see them. The words, like the empathetic ones that I had uttered to this man, don’t even begin to measure up to how true that the message is. One day we are all here, and one day we are all not. It is so crucial to keep connections close, and to always, always, always, try for a better future. Sure, people wrong you. But if there is any hope, ANY hope in a better future with said person, grasp onto that hope and pray to God that you (or the other person) do not let go.
Photo Credit: David Webb