When someone precious to you is hurting you try everything you can to build a force field around them. You don’t want the world to cause one more second of unnecessary pain.
I find that I am more mother lion than ever when it comes to Joe, and I’m often left saying to myself, ‘If these people only knew’.
It started about a month ago, Joe came in from walking the dog with a puzzled look on his face. He looked like he could bust out laughing or hide from embarrassment.
“Dog poop bags on my car.”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“A neighbor put dog poop bags on my car, under my windshield wipers.”
My first reaction was to lecture. How many times have I told you to put the dog on a leash? How many times have I told you to make sure you have bags? Now all the neighbors hate us, I said. We are known as the lazy poop picker uppers.
I told the story to a girlfriend, ragging on my husband when she said. “True, but if they knew that you guys had a newborn baby at home, and a sick husband who barely has energy to walk the dog, I bet they’d be embarrassed.”
Suddenly, I no longer wanted to kill my husband. I wanted to hunt down that rude, passive aggressive neighbor. I thought, she’s right. Cut him some slack, if you only knew what was really going on just a few doors from your own.
I wanted to find them and say, “If only dog poop was our biggest issue.”
It happened again on our weekend to Chicago. The dream weekend away. So much riding on it, so much anticipation.
We were boarding our plane. I left my suitcase in the aisle and took my seat. Joe grabbed my suitcase and put it in one overhead compartment then turned around to place his own suitcase. Before he could even lift his bag, the man behind him snaked in and snuck his bag in the only spot left.
He looked at Joe with a, ‘sorry dude’ shrug.
Joe turned to me, wide-eyed and almost laughing, what the hell was this guy doing? I watched as Joe took his suitcase to the back of the plane to find a spot as my blood boiled.
How dare you?! I wanted to scream. Do you have any idea what he’s going through? Where we are going? How important this is?? If he only knew…
I bit my tongue once more as we approached the much anticipated hockey game. I headed into will-call line to pick up our tickets. Joe was buzzing around like a kid and proud to show me the stadium he loved. I knew we were guests and I knew it was going to be special, but I didn’t know where we were sitting or how this would go. I gave the woman in the window our last name and ticket info.
“Not here,” she said flatly, “Come back later.”
Come back later? There is no come back later! “Can you look again, please?” I begged.
“Not here,” she rolled her eyes.
I walked away and it took everything I had in me not to turn around and tell the woman off.
How dare you? How dare you ruin our dream moment? How dare you talk us like that! My husband has stage 4 cancer. This could be his last hockey game. This could be his last Chicago trip. This is everything at this very moment. If you only knew!
The truth is if she knew what was happening on the other side of her window (to the couple standing close together with excitement) she probably wouldn’t have acted that way.
If our neighbor only knew.
If the man on the plane only knew.
If the ticket woman only knew.
The truth is we never know what someone else is going through. That car you cut off on your way to work, well they may be on their way to chemotherapy. That cashier you didn’t acknowledge while you were talking on your phone, maybe her mom just died. That man on your facebook wall posting depressing song lyrics, maybe his wife just left him.
If we knew the truth, I would like to hope, that we would be kind. Because, everyone you meet is fighting their own battle.