You listen, is what you do.

What do you do, when you meet someone and walk away from the conversation and a little voice inside says, ‘we need to help her’?

You listen, is what you do. 

And you talk about it with someone who is willing to listen to you.

Listen to you share your feeling of being moved by another human being and their misfortune, difficulty, hardship, heartbreak.

You risk feeling vulnerable about caring so much.

You push past the feelings of uncertainty.

And, you listen to those  who encourage you to not lose the moment, to not let it pass.

And then, you do something about it. Get busy. Make something happen.

That’s what happened to me two weeks ago, and it’s one of those things that will leave an imprint on me forever. One of those moments.

Two weeks ago, I was in my neighborhood grocery store and true to form, (I talk to just about anyone) I struck up a conversation with the gal at the check-out. I was in a great mood, it was a Friday night and I had company coming for the weekend. I was there to buy fun food for snacking. Engaging with the woman at the cash register, we slipped easily into conversation about feeling tired, end of the day, end of the week, end of her shift. Recognizing her exhaustion, I asked if she had little ones at home to attend to when the work day came to a close at ten pm later that night. She responded that no, she does not but that she has one on the way, as she gently patted her rounded belly that I had not noticed before. We moved easily into the language between two women who share the wondrous experience of motherhood – no matter that she’s at the wee stages and I am on the cusp of having a decade of motherhood behind me. We are the same, bonded, in that moment. I recognize her fatigue.

I ask questions, and the story spills out of her, bit by bit. She’s on her own in this maze of motherhood she has only just entered. I gingerly ask about support from the baby’s father; not so much. I ask about family support; not so much. I ask about friends, girl friends, someone? She confides that yes, there are a couple of friends on hand, there for her. And that she’s going to have to move. And that she can’t continue with this job, it’s just too physical. Underneath the utterly delightful smile and despite it all, such happy eyes, I can see her exhaustion. She’s on her feet nine hours a day for her job. I can sense in her the looming questions of ‘how is all of this supposed to work’?. Something inside me pinged and panged. I wanted, I needed, to know, that she’s going to be ok. It was just way too easy to insert myself into that place of alone-ness. And only later did I realize that It scared the hell out of me.

I left the store, looking back at her and smiling and said, straight to her, “I will be thinking about you.” 

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I just had no idea how much.

I walked home in the warm fall evening and that little voice said to me, ‘We need to help her” and I had the idea of just putting it out there on Facebook. See what happens. Then something in me started to second guess myself. And then, I was swept up in the busy-ness of the weekend, but though the voice inside was nearly drowned out with other activities and conversations, it kept whispering to me. I shared this experience with my guest and in a quiet, simple comment the message to not let this pass was conveyed. I heard him.

And I didn’t. Let it pass. I wish I didn’t have to say that for some reason I still hesitated, but I do. I hesitated. Why? Perhaps that is for another day, because this story is much larger than that. I pushed beyond and posted a note on my Facebook wall sharing this encounter, with a gentle invitation to my friends if they also felt compelled. 

What happened next still gets me.  Within hours, more than a dozen of friends from around the country responded. PayPal started hopping, requests for my mailing address started and i was again moved, as I watched this take shape before my very eyes. I hesitated? How could I have second guessed this goodness?
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By week’s end, nearly twenty of my trusted friends – who in turn trusted me, trusted my instincts – came forward so readily, with amounts ranging from $10 to $100 each. In the end, our pennies all put together really added up. I was moved at each turn in this process.  Amazed by the momentum. Standing back in awe that others saw what I saw.  Graced by the opportunity be part of something far larger than me. And that my kiddo could witness this greatness unfold over the course of just a couple of days.

I took Kiddo with me and we went to see her. As she walked out from the back of the store, we were met by those same happy eyes and a beautiful smile. She recognized me but had no idea what was coming. I simply asked her if she remembered that I had said that I would be thinking of her. She nodded, a bit perplexed. I handed her two envelopes; one a card with a message from me and the list of first names (and their city) of everyone who jumped on board with me; and a Target gift card for $500. Yes, $500. That will buy a lot of diapers. Or binkies. Or toys. Or whatever she needs.  Wow.

The hugs. The smile. The gratitude. The tears.

Words like miracle. Angels. Gift. Grace.

I was adamant that this was not about me but she insisted on getting my phone number; saying she wants to keep in touch with me and the next day I received the most beautiful, moving, transparent and articulate voice message. It is still on my phone. I am certain that this woman, and her baby [oh, it’s a boy!] will somehow be part of our lives for a long time.

How could I have hesitated?

What do you do when a little voice inside says, ‘we should help her?”

You listen, is what you do.

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25 thoughts on “You listen, is what you do.

  1. A lovely story, Bonnie, and a wonderfully warm gesture that came from the heart. I’m quite certain that you and this special young woman touched each other’s hearts in ways that you will both remember for the rest of your lives. And lucky are we that you chose to share it with us. It’s a potent reminder that we can ALL make a difference if we just take that first step. Loved this…. xo

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  2. One thing I learned, Bon, is I apparently need to get on FB more often. I miss the boat on this. The other thing, is I am so proud of you. So proud. Thanks for taking care of a sister.

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    • Sweetie..thank you. Those words mean THE WORLD to me. You did not miss the boat…you were swimming in the big wide ocean next to the boat, navigating your busy life. Love you my friend.

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  3. oh. my. goodness. What an amazing story, Bonnie 🙂 I know you say this is not about you, and I get that, but YOU were the one who initiated things. Even while hesitant, you went forward. That took courage and even a bit of stubbornness ( 😉 ) because you refused to listen to the part of you that was afraid. (not saying you’re stubborn, btw) Love that there are people like you out there. And all who responded. What a touching story. Also a thumbs-up for facebook, which I generally approach with caution, for making is possible to connect with so many folks. Beautiful.

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    • Liz!! Thank you so much, so much! I agree, about Facebook, to be able to leverage it for such good. I am still moved by this and trying to take the time to really learn the important lessons behind the moment of it. Looking at why I hesitated and the take-aways from not letting that be the outcome. Your comment is awesome [as always] and I have the feeling we could finish off a few hours of conversation and not know where the time went.

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      • you have that open invite, you know 😉 Until then, I’ll try to find you on fb a bit more often. Will be sure to pour you a glass of the crabapple liqueur I’ve been brewing over at food for fun 😉

        Curious why you are looking at why you hesitated. Would suggest that you don’t over-dwell on that, as the endgame is that you DID act and amazing things happened. Think if your son came to you with a similar issue–wouldn’t you mostly celebrate with him for the amazing outcome?

        With that, will give you a Cheers. Have you started on that cherry sour vodka yet? 😀

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    • David, thank you, your comment means a lot to me. I am still poring over how all of this transpired, but just so grateful that it did. A BIG lesson to me…

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    • Tobi! Thank you SO much! And you are right, yes, if we all listened, at all, or more often, the differences we’d see would surely amaze all of us!

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  4. I must say – I just finished reading this (I am at work) and was crying – then my boss called on the phone.

    I am really without words to say, except I am so amazed by what you have done. and I must say i am inspired.

    I read something the other day which completely caught my attention and I was floored by it. I do not know why exactly, it is just something I was totally unaware of, surprised, appalled and feeling like I need to do something. I have meant to write about it, but have been unable to sit long enough to write about this subject. It involves a diaper bank. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

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    • Wow, your comment has me just speechless. To know that in sharing, which I was both reluctant and eager to do, spread this even further and wider than my neighborhood and circle of friends. Thank you for sharing so openly with me….

      I hope you find the space to write about this thing that has you compelled, moved. I have not heard of the diaper bank – tell me more or send a link? It’s good to have you here…

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      • You are so sweet. I really do not have a link – I read about a diaper bank while looking through my community’s newsletter- a seasonal thing that is mailed out. Anyhoo, there is a church that has been sponsoring a diaper bank for quite a few years now. What I did not know is this – diapers are not covered my Medicare, govt assistance such as food stamps – nothing. Diapers for babies, seniors, handicapped children and adults – there is no way to defray this cost. I had no idea about this. I figured diapers would be covered – just like baby formula, etc… I never even considered other situations such as adults,… I am absolutely amazed – in an appalled way about this. I read this tidbit and feel like I need to do something. I am no a member of this church – I do not really go to church – but I want to somehow get involved. This topic – situation. – for some reason – has touched me. 😉

        What do you think?

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  5. It was a random act of kindness – and you gifted us with the chance to participate. In that way, not only did you give to this young woman, you gave to us too honey…xox

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    • I am still pondering and appreciating the magic and timing of it all, knowing that nothing happens by accident. I am honored to have such amazing friends who got it, who trusted my sense of the situation. Thank you for being part of this…it’s what it is because of ALL of us. xoxo

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