LIFE’S SPECIAL MOMENTS:
A couple of years ago, a dear friend of mine lost her daughter to a brain tumor. Amazing Grace was just 10 years old when she passed away. It’s pretty unimaginable what my friend has gone through losing her daughter. I’m not sure a mother can ever completely recover.
My friend and I met many years ago at our first job out of college. We were both in our early 20’s and working side-by-side, learning the corporate world of television. Eating lunch together every day, complaining about our bosses, and spending every happy hour we could out on the patio of the local bar. We became instant friends. A friendship that lasted many years.
We lost touch though, after I moved to New York City. And we didn’t see each other for 10 years. When the trade towers fell in NYC, my dear friend tracked me down. I was living in NYC at the time and she was worried. I reassured her I was okay, but then several years passed again and we didn’t see each other. She had two kids. I got married, and I had two kids too.
And one day, through the magic of Facebook, I received a message from her. And just like that, we reconnected.
About a month after we got back in touch, her daughter fell down at a playground and was subsequently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. And her life turned upside down. I have always felt like we reconnected at that time, for a reason. If only for me to be a slight distraction while she and her daughter battled the terrible illness. To hold her hand. To help her laugh about other things.
Over the next couple of years, we met every so often. For drinks, for lunch. Just to chat. I tried hard to help her feel normal while she was going through such an abnormal, and horrible situation.
Then one summer things got tougher for her. And I didn’t see my friend for six months. She told me things were bad. I gave her space.
The next winter, her beautiful daughter, Amazing Grace, passed away. Just barely 10 years old. Grace was buried with her American Girl Doll by her side. Unimaginable. But yet, it happened. I had no words for my friend. Just a hug. And lots and lots of tears. I still have tears just writing about it.
Over the weeks following Grace’s death, I found myself thinking about her and my friend, all the time. More often it was from a mother’s perspective. How could she survive losing her child? It’s every mom’s worst fear. And it came true for my dear friend. I had no idea how to help her. I reached out a few times, spoke to family members, who assured me she was hanging on and would call me when she was ready.
About a month after Grace passed away, I was still finding myself lost in thought about her on many days. I would drive somewhere and I would have to pull the car over because I was crying so hard.
One of those days that she was weighing heavy on my mind and heart, I pulled into the parking lot at the local grocery store. Next to my car was a mini-van covered in magnets. The magnets said “Fight Childhood Cancer”. The mini-van had a big note on the driver’s side window. The note read –
“My son is currently fighting cancer, and we want to share these magnets to raise awareness to help his battle. Please take one and drive with it proudly on your car in hopes that a cure will be found”.
I read that note and cried. Another mom was fighting this horrible disease like my friend had.
So I took a magnet and put it on my bumper. Then I pulled myself together and I got my two kids out of the car and I went in to shop.
When we came out of the grocery store, the mini-van was still there. As I buckled my kids in their seats, the mom came walking over to it. I watched her count the magnets. I realized she wanted to see if anyone had read her note and taken one. I wasn’t sure what to do at first. Tell her I took one? Or just get in my car and drive away. I thought about it for a minute. But that’s all it took. I decided to let her know.
So I walked over to her and said hello and told her that I had read her note and put a magnet on my bumper. I showed her that it was already displayed there.
She began to cry and hugged me. I cried too. She told me that everywhere she goes, she counts to see if anyone has taken a magnet because it makes her hopeful that the more people who take one are somehow, in some small way helping her son. I hesitated at first, but then I decided to tell her about Grace.
There we stood, two moms, crying in a parking lot. Strangers, yet I felt like I knew her so well at that moment. She was a mom embroiled in the fight of her life, trying to save her son. Just like my friend had tried. It was a surreal moment. We wiped our eyes and I wished her the best. I told her I’d pray for her son. Whose name I don’t even know. And I got in my car.
My kids were quite confused about why mommy was crying and hugging a lady they didn’t know in the parking lot. I told them that some moments make you feel like God is there, watching, and that was one of those moments. I felt so connected to Grace that day. And to my dear friend.
And I learned something huge that day…
Special moments can happen anywhere. Just be careful not to miss them.