Connie is the type of woman you often see and quickly pass over. If you think about Connie at all, you’re probably passing judgement about her life, her character or her worth.
You see her badly dyed jet black hair, you can’t help but notice her array of tattoos, and she dresses like a hooker on a budget. But that’s only Connie’s physical appearance.
Get to know Connie and you’ll be changed forever.
When I first met Connie, I went through the steps I just described. I’m not proud of it…but I’m honest about it. I judged and found her guilty of being cheap and trashy. Not my cup of tea – for sure.
Under normal circumstances I’d walk on by, but on this particular occasion, the two of has had plenty of time with nothing else to do but talk to one another. We were called for jury duty and waiting for our turn to be interviewed by the opposing attorneys.
Where I usually start a conversation is with a compliment or a question I’ve been wondering about. There was no need for that with Connie. She turned the tables on me and was using my playbook. It felt good to be on the receiving end for a change. We began chatting like two old friends who hadn’t seen each other in ages. Within five minutes I noticed Connie’s best features. She has a strong chin, I thought – great nose. How nice to see someone in bold colors instead of the usual black yoga pants.
I was well in to a story about my son when I asked Connie, “Do you have any kids?” She told me she had a son who died after a long battle with a rare form of blood cancer. Then she shared that her husband was killed by a drunken driver in an auto accident three months later. I was stunned.
“How do you go on?” I asked. The tears were welling up, my stomach was lurching, my heart was breaking. And here’s her response:
“After Mark died, Chuck and I went numbly through the grieving process: Anger. Lots of tears and sadness. Resignation. After all, we still had each other. They say the loss of a child can make a marriage stronger or break it completely. Mark’s death brought us even closer together. Then I got the phone call, Chuck was killed and I was alone. There was no consolation. The shock overwhelmed me. Grief cut off my air supply. I swear, I did not breathe for over a year. There wasn’t an hour that went by when I didn’t pray to God to take me. ‘Let me be with my boys.’ I begged.”
God answered Connie’s prayers in a different way.
It was Connie’s lowest point. She sat on the stoop of her townhouse with a surgical cutter she had bought that afternoon from a medical supply house. Her intent was to end her life that night. A small gray kitten walked by. Connie swore the cat passed her, then looked up to the heavens, nodded and doubled back to the steps where she sat contemplating her suicide.
The kitty nudged her and meowed softly.
Connie couldn’t help but respond. She stuck her hand out and the kitten licked it. It was Connie’s first physical contact with another living being since Chuck’s death. There was a release of love larger than any tidal wave.
Connie’s no fool. She knew God sent this angel kitty to deliver a message from Chuck and Mark. They could wait to see her. It wasn’t her time. Take care of others.
“I named that cat Angel and I took her in.” Connie told me.
From that moment forward Connie was on a mission to be kind in any and every way she could be. Kindness, by helping someone in need. Kindness, by being her best at work. Kindness by starting conversations with strangers…like me.
I can tell you – meeting Connie changed the way I live my life. I shifted my priorities. I put my own problems in their place. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I am more kind.
As for me and my new friend; we did not get selected for the jury. We walked away from the courthouse and hugged goodbye.
One of the kindest things I can do is to share Connie’s story. Won’t you share it too?