Even though it has been over seven years since I first met her, the positive outlook she glowed, to this day, stops me in my tracks. Yet, under the free spirit she so happily exuded, there was a person enduring the pain of a great loss.
It was pumpkin hunting night. A Halloween tradition followed by countless families, as once a year, make shift lots fill with those in quest of the perfect jack-o’-lantern. Curbside destinations that backed by a bazaar mix of creepy music and children’s laughter, set stage for a night of costume, ghoul and candy. It was on that very night and occasion my daughter and I ran into Kimberly, who apropos to the evening that was at hand, we approached at the patch where we too sought our perfect pumpkin.
It was moments before closing time, and being careful not to ignore the shoppers and other staffers who were working, we took a quick break in finding a hay bail to rest upon. With time limited for conversation our getting to know each other was quick and playful. The small talk one might expect in any first introduction.
Stuff like her artistic talent, poetry, music and creativity in general. In doing so, she bestowed upon me a few gems of wisdom: “To design is to simplify,” and “’Never take ‘no’ for an answer.’”
“For many years I wanted to be a rap star, but now, my life is all about school and art,” she told me. A statement that probably accounted for the super-hip attitude and style sense she so seamlessly carried.
Her passion and enthusiasm was evident as she shared her wisdom for what’s to come. A character revealing part of the person she was. Choosing to look beyond herself in directing her comments towards us, “you are the creator of your life, and life is what you make of it.”
A heartwarming sentiment that delivered with her joyful and imaginative spirit warmed my heart. But, behind her eyes I could sense a held back tear; and as I did, our conversation fell silent. It was as if an Angel had reached past the darkness of scarecrows and ghosts in the closet. A whispering voice that was not originating in my own sub-conscious, but rather flowed out of the eyes of Kimberly. It ran into my emotional self.
I swallowed deeply. Compassion an understatement to that of what I was feeling, and looking at her, it seemed as if she too was touched beyond explanation. Then the emotions erupted and she burst into heartfelt sobbing. All I could do was sit quietly.
Cheeks still wet, I asked, are you OK?
A gentle smile came over her face, “last year at this time my father died,” she revealed.
The tears started again, only this time it was my cheeks that were getting wet. There were no words to share, the fullness of our connection confirmed by the intimacy of the moment.
I’m a son who had lost his father, and looking into the eyes of a youthful young woman who had lost her dad, I identified with not only my pain, but visualized forward the impact my eventual death might bring upon my daughter. All I wanted to do was give Kimberly and my girl hugs, and that’s exactly what I did. Three strangers to each other, Kimberly, my daughter and myself, each pulled at the heartstrings in what I could only be described as a healing bond. No words were necessary. The Angels had imparted their will, and we were all the better for it.
Realizing that her positive outlook was more than youthful naivety, I changed the subject. For as Sidewalk Ghosts continually teaches, there is a unique human spirit within all of us, and in regard to Kimberly, it was mature, loving and caring. The tears in her eyes, although representative of pain from loosing her father, in her words, “my best friend;” were proof she was more focused on living forward the love and example he departed onto her.
Kimberly’s presence was sure, her sentiments focused and kind; and even though we had opened a very fragile topic, I was taken by her strength and ability to turn sadness into tribute.
Kimberly, I will be ever grateful for the trust you had in me that brisk October night. Humbled by your sharing of a most precious part of your life–and through it, my greatest prayer is that all who hear your example might also be inspired. For I know you inspired me.
Readers, if you are returning, so nice to be with you again. If you are new, looking forward to getting to know you.
To all: please comment,like, and forward. Every engagement goes a long way toward connecting us; as together, we grow a movement that betters the way we view and treat one another.