Deja vous

Today, the past walked in and sat down beside me.

We were all out for lunch together, happily enjoying southern barbecue, thoughts as light as air, when the door to the restaurant opened. A man in a cap opened it, and his wife walked in.

Slowly, carefully, as if every move hurt her bones.

She walked in slowly, and sat down at the table next to me. I tried not to stare at her baldness. My mother-in-law whispered to me, “Does that bring back memories?”

And yes, ohmigosh, it did.

Memories of a time when I was too weak and sick to enjoy much, and when I only had enough spoons (my internet connection today is weak; if you don’t get the reference, google “spoon theory”) to leave the house a couple times a week. I’d save up my energy for days, my husband would take me out to lunch, gently opening the door, gently pulling out my chair, and helping me every step of the way. We’d smile, and talk, and maybe start to forget the hell that we were fighting every Thursday, downtown in the chemo chair. And then, after the meal, he’d help me stand back up, open the doors for me again, and we’d go back home, where I would sleep for the rest of the day and into the next.

Oh, I remember those times.

But today, it wasn’t me. It was her. And I was healthy, happy, laughing with my husband and parents-in-law, hugging two little boys on my lap. We enjoyed the meal together.

But as I walked out of the restaurant, Little Bear and I stopped by the other table.

I wasn’t sure what to say, but I had to say something to her, this woman who was in a place I remembered so vividly. She looked so tired. So weak, and not altogether confident, there in the middle of the room. So I leaned over and told her, “I spent most of last year bald. I just wanted to tell you, you look GREAT. You have a beautifully shaped head, and it looks gorgeous on you.”

And do you know what? She smiled. She relaxed. She ran a hand over her head and said, “Do you really think so? It’s starting to grow back, finally.”

We laughed and chatted a bit, and I was careful not to assure her that it would grow back (I don’t know her from Adam, and I don’t know what kind of treatment she had), but as I left, she smiled at her husband, and they held hands across the table.

Oh yes. I remember those times.

29 Responses to Deja vous

  1. That is such a wonderful thing you did. I have the feeling she’ll remember you forever.

  2. BetteJo says:

    That was a wonderful thing you did. I’m sure you made her day and I’m sure your encouragement and the healthy image of you will go a long way for her.

  3. Cathy says:

    I really think you said exactly what she needed to hear today. You were there at the right moment for her – and I’m sure she’s so thankful.

  4. Kristin says:

    I think I’m always counting my spoons, knowing that someday they’ll be limited. I think that’s why I do so much. It’ll backfire. Someday. For now, I think I’m happy.

    You did a wonderful thing. Sounds like you shared something good, something that both of you could take home.

  5. Jen says:

    that woman could have been my mom, today. although i know it wasn’t – we’re far too far away, but i think that was nice of you to connect with her. i know the isolation my mom feels and how it comforts her to know there are others that have made it through the rough chemo days when just pulling your shirt over your head is a feat.

  6. Bubba's Sis says:

    You are a sweet and beautiful woman – I know you made that woman’s day!

  7. Kami says:

    That small gesture was probably appreciated more than ever, I bet she thought about you more than once this evening🙂

  8. imstell says:

    Paying it forward. And a reminder of just how far you’ve come…

  9. kathie says:

    Your kindness to this complete stranger has brought tears to my eyes. You know how they say that everyone passes in and out of your life for a reason? Well I’m sure that there was a reason you were there today. No doubt you gave her a glimpse into her possible future in a year’s time.

  10. trashalou says:

    Have you read Mitch Absolom’s ‘Five people you meet in heaven?’ Odd book but fabulous premise. You may just find this chance meeting has the power to change her life. This was definitely a pay it forward moment.

  11. M (the Misanthrope) says:

    I first visited your blog on the day that it was mentioned on CNN.com. I was too shy to leave a comment then, but I just wanted to say Hi now. I’ve been awed and inspired by your writing and by your story of courage and survival. And I just googled “spoon theory”…now THAT was a whole new perspective. Anyway…sorry I was so shy before, and Hi!

  12. Susan K says:

    As I started reading this, I thought, Oh, I hope she said something.

    But of course you did. And it sounds like it was just the right thing.

    A little kindness goes a really, really, really long way.

  13. Amelie says:

    You’re so kind. Thank you.

  14. tracey says:

    Oh darling girl… That is the type of kindness that makes the biggest difference in our lives…

  15. NoRegrets says:

    It’s so good you can help someone.

  16. Cass says:

    This was so beautiful. I’m all teary.

  17. Heather says:

    What an amazing moment! I’m so glad you said something to her. My eyes got all teary reading this.

  18. Lori says:

    The perfect words. It’s so rare that I can come up with the perfect words at the perfect time. I’m always in awe of those who can and do. Well done.

  19. Jacquie says:

    That brought tears to my eyes. How your own journey gave her a bit off assurance.

    You are amazing lady!!

  20. debi says:

    You have such a giving heart. This story made me cry and smile.

  21. mandi says:

    i’m glad you could bring a smile and probably some hope to someone going thru the same horrible thing that you had to endure.

  22. Lisa says:

    Way to go! Thanks for your well wishes for my little Saturn too, she is doing MUCH better today and LOVED your card (slept with it last night). Missing you!

  23. De Anna says:

    Not only a warm fuzzy for her but for all of us that are lucky enough to read this – you.rock.🙂

  24. Ally says:

    I am so glad that you went over and spoke to her; to reassure her with your kindness, and reconnect her to all that is good and right with the world. There is nothing more healing than human kindness.

  25. Jenny says:

    That’s so wonderful that you took the time to speak with her. It reminds me of when my mom finally grew enough hair back to stop wearing her wig. It was about 1/2 inch long, and she didn’t want to quit wearing her long pixie cut wig, but it was rubbing against her head and inhibiting her hair from fully growing back in. One day she finally decided to go to church wearing nothing on her head but for the short hair she’d worked so hard to grow back. As we sat down, a little six-year-old boy in the pew in front of us exclaimed “Oh! You got a haircut! Me, too.” He rubbed his own buzzed head and smiled as though he thought it was the sassiest little hairdo he’d ever seen on a woman. He didn’t even know what was going on, but I think he broke the ice and made her feel better.

  26. momunplugged says:

    That was a wonderful story, and I did google about the spoons. Wow. It makes it all very understandable to someone who is very grateful to have always had (up until today anyhow) enough spoons. Thank you.

  27. sprucehillfarm says:

    You have come so far! She will always remeber that moment. You made her day.🙂

  28. […] Challenge You are all so kind! […]

  29. hotfessional says:

    It does mean a lot. I remember your comment on my “coming out” post – It brightened my day. Mine won’t ever grow back, but it’s not life threatening either…and yet…it’s still important.

    A kind word from someone who understands is an amazing thing.

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