I waited in line behind a guy with plaid shorts.
I noticed them as I stared and thought about the day.
One full of emotion listening to the news unravel about the shootings that just happened in Las Vegas overnight.
Being in line at the vet was the last place I wanted to be.
The shorts guy needed pet medications.
He claimed his cat was “pooping all over the house.”
I exchanged a slight smile with Alena who sat holding our own cat.
And then I noticed her.
The woman by the counter clutching an ancient looking dog that was obviously weak and blind, wrapped in a baby blanket.
The dog had clearly had better days,
but I could tell by the way the lady kept pulling her gently up to her face for a kiss that
Some of that woman’s best days had been spent with that little dog.
I studied her awhile.
I wondered why she was there.
I could tell she was alone,
and then over the plaid shorts guy’s loud requests, as I watched her sloppily sign on a clipboard,
I heard her barely whisper out,
“And that will…….cover the cremation?”
She pulled the dog close again.
She finished her forms and turned to take her seat in the waiting area, and as she did, her eyes caught mine and it was as if I heard a voice that said,
“It’s not all for you today.”
and as she started to walk by I caught her attention and I mouthed,
“I just want to hug you.”
Her lip quivered.
“Thank you...” she said, like she couldn’t believe.
My arm went around her.
After my turn and my own forms,
I started to take a seat and noticed the seat beside hers was empty.
Not believing in coincidence, I gave Alena a look that I know she understood and instead of taking s seat by her,
I sat down next to the woman.
At first I didn’t say anything more.
I just cried with her.
I pet her soft little dog, and whispered,
“You look like you’re a good girl.”
“She’s the very BEST girl, “ the woman said, hushed.
I told her about my own dear Phoebe, and how I’m not far behind,
and I asked her how she had known it was time.
“You just know, “ she said, suddenly calmer.
“I didn’t know three weeks ago.
But then something changed, and I just did.”
I could tell just answering that question gave her a little bit of peace.
Reaffirming to herself that she was making the best decision.
I pushed past a lot of hesitation to do so,
but that is when I reached out and patted her on the hand.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Loving them and losing them is hard, but also one of the very best things.”
Right then the nurse came and called her name.
She looked at me pleadingly with tears dripping down her cheeks.
“You loved her well “ I told her. “I can tell you gave her the very best life.”
“Seventeen years…..” She said, tears dripping again.
Then she turned and walked into her room.
The nurse called our last name next.
We were led to the room right beside.
I tried to listen as we waited to see if I could hear the moment, but I couldn’t hear a thing.
By the time we were done, the room next to us was empty.
The woman, nowhere to be seen.
My heart was heavy as I went to pay and pick up Amelie’s medication, and as I walked to the payment counter I was suddenly face-to-face with a receptionist who
I frankly just do not like.
To be honest I actually completely dread.
In 20 years of being patients at that office, she has never once cracked a smile.
She has never once made eye contact.
Her answers are short. Her voice is gruff.
She makes me feel like helping me is nothing short of torture.
“Not HER,” I thought. “Not now.”
And then the voice spoke into my heart again.
“Even her. Yes. Even her, too.”
And I knew what I should do.
Even though it went against the grain of everything I was feeling as she sat there angrily typing and ignoring that I was
standing in that window,
I asked her softly,
“How are YOU doing today?”
And I held my breath.
And her eyes shot up to mine.
And then I watched them fill up with tears.
“I actually feel like I’m about to cry,” she confessed.
I felt stunned by the sight of her underbelly.
And the chain was broken.
Just like that.
Because let me tell you: That lady started to talk.
And talk a lot.
Her day had been hard. She had a really bad headache. She was reminding herself that she loved her job.
I told her I was sorry. That I understood.
That I had headaches, too, and that unless you have them you just don’t know.
I asked her if she would get to go home soon.
I genuinely told her that I hoped that she felt better soon and that her day got better, and you know what?
That receptionist started calling me “Honey.”
Her whole demeanor changed, and I was struck with how often it is that the things we don’t like in people can be changed with just an act of kindness on our part
Even when it seems hard at first.
That the power to change the climate is in our very own hands.
I walked to my car and cried behind my sunglasses.
In awe of how a simple unwanted trip to the vet had spoken into my heart in so many ways.
Reiterrating that it’s not all about us in our day-to-day.
It’s not all about our hard moment,
or our own upsetting situation.
Reminding that we are all supposed to be here for each other.
That sometimes the purpose of our own pain is to bind up someone else’s.
Our kindness is the scaffold of life.
The simple words are what start the ripples of change when we find ourselves sitting sprawled in the dirt begging for answers on where we can even go from here.
It is the hand on a hand.
The dropping of our weapons.
The lowering of our shields.
A trip to the vet today kneaded at my heart in ways I was not at all expecting.
It caused me to deeply feel the God I love,
and listen for His heartbeat in the chests of people I would maybe normally overlook.
Who are we called to love?
Just the easy ones?
Just what looks like our own reflection?
Just the one who believes like we do?
Speaks like we do?
Lived in the places we know?
All of them.
All meaning ALL.
I started this day feeling powerless.
But I ended it being raised back up;
reminded yet again that
sometimes the softest place we tread
is the firmest place