I wrote this just over 3 years ago. This afternoon, I am travelling back to the area where my mother is buried and I thought I would pop by the cemetery for a moment. This story came into my mind, I had to search for it since I haven't read it in ages. I thought I would share the story of the time an "angel" came into my life when I needed comfort the most.
On December 21st 2013, while visiting family, I found myself reliving past hurts and was feeling not quite understood. At around 11 pm, after everyone had retired to their rooms, I couldn’t rest so I decided to go for a walk. In a very sad state, I made my way toward the Pine Grove Cemetery, where far too many of my loved ones have been laid to rest. This January first marks the 24th year anniversary of the untimely death of my mother, brother and grandmother. Despite the years that have passed, there are times when the pain of their loss is as fresh as it was so long ago.
As I walked through the gates, an urgency overcame me and I began to cry as I walked faster up the hill to where my mother and brothers grave can be found. As I got closer, I heard footsteps crunching through the ice covered snow toward me from the right. A man passed by me and asked me how I was doing. With complete honesty, I told him I was feeling crappy but with a façade of bravado, I asked him how he was in return. He answered, as he went by, but what it was he said I have no clue since my mind was focused on locating the burial plot of my mother.
I frantically searched but the headstones were glazed over from the icy rain earlier in the night and the words were quite difficult to make out in the darkness. Finally, I found the marker that bear the names of my mom and my brother. I fell to my knees and while I sobbed I pushed away the snow that covered it. I hugged that stone as though I could get back the warmth of my mother’s loving embrace. I paused, sniffling back the tears, thinking I had heard a noise. Footsteps? Had the stranger returned? At that moment, I didn’t even care. Lost in my grief, I resumed my mournful cry.
I heard the sound clearly now and yes, it was footsteps. I decided that I didn’t want to look any more pitiful so I began to gather myself back into some semblance of dignity as the man who had greeted me earlier approached once more.
I think he asked me, as I began to stand back on my feet, if there was anything I needed. I began to move toward him and I told him that what I thought I really needed, at that moment, was a hug. This man, a stranger, opened his arms to me and I went to him as if he were a father, a brother…a friend. I held on to him and I cried. He allowed me to sob and he quietly told me that it would be ok...that it would all be ok. I continued to cry but more quietly as I allowed myself to be comforted and consoled. I told him that I missed them so much, it had been such a long time and I felt so alone.
Never could I imagine myself in such a state and yet, not once did I feel awkward or unsafe. He asked me if I needed him to walk me home but I declined. I mean, he was a stranger and my goodness, hadn’t I already put him out enough? I pulled away from him and I remember looking into his eyes. He looked genuinely concerned. I thanked him and I meant it from the bottom of my heart. This person had given me exactly what I needed, the freedom to cry and the kindness to not let me do it alone.
After I thanked him and pulled myself together as best as I could, we parted ways. He down one path and me another. I called out my thanks one more time and then he was gone and once again I was alone, in the cemetery, in the dark. This time though, I felt at peace. I leaned against one of the old pines that are found throughout the place and I listened to the wind moving gently through the trees. I looked up, smiled and then I began the walk back to where I was staying.
This is what happened to me only a week ago. I have shared this story with a few people I know and most look at me in shock. Was I crazy?! Hadn’t I been sacred? I probably am crazy! Shoot, I was out crying in the middle of the night, at a cemetery, hugging a man I had never met before. Sounds a little wacky to me. I was never scared though. Not for one moment.
I don’t know who this gentleman was but he was just that, a very gentle man and I wanted to thank him. I wanted him to know how much his act of kindness meant to me. Maybe it was just a coincidence he was there at that moment. Maybe it was something more. Who knows? What I do know is that he extended himself in someone else’s time of need. Would you have done the same? My mother and brother have been gone for so long. I forget a lot about what life was like before they died. I was only 14 years old after all. Life goes on for the living and once again, I say thank you to the man who hugged me that night because whoever you are, you made it a little easier to keep on going.
When I experience something that makes me think, allows me to learn or provides an opportunity for growth, I'd like to share it with you.