I remember you. Eighteen months ago, when my cell phone rang, you were walking into Whole Foods prepared to do your grocery shopping, just as I had been only minutes before you. But I had already abandoned my cart full of groceries in the entryway. My brother was on the other end of the line telling me my father had taken his own life early that morning.
I started to cry and scream as my whole body trembled. I fell to the floor, my knees buckling under the weight of what I had just learned. You could have kept on walking, ignoring my cries, but you didn’t. You could have simply stopped and stared at my primal display of pain, but you didn’t. Instead, you surrounded me as I yelled through my sobs, “My father killed himself. He’s dead.”
I remember one of you asked for my phone and whom you should call. What was my password? You needed my husband’s name as you searched through my contacts. I remember that I could hear your words as you tried to reach my husband for me, leaving an urgent message for him to call me. I recall hearing you discuss among yourselves who would drive me home in my car and who would follow that person back to the store. You didn’t even know one another, but it didn’t matter. You encountered me, a stranger, in the worst moment of my life, and you coalesced around me with common purpose—to help.
In my fog, I told you that I had a friend who worked at Whole Foods, and one of you brought her to me. And I even recall as I sat with her, one of you sent over a gift card to Whole Foods; though you didn’t know me, you wanted to let me know that you would be thinking of me. That gift card helped to feed my family when the idea of cooking was so far beyond my emotional reach.
I never saw you after that. But I know this to be true: Because you reached out to help, you offered a ray of light in the bleakest moment I’ve ever endured. You may not remember it. You may not remember me. But I will never, ever forget you.