I waited until he was out of my sight. Waited for just a few moments more. A few moments when I began to feel the multitude of eyes shamelessly staring - it seemed like the entire terminal was staring at me - witnessing my pain, intruding on our goodbye. A few moments when I could see people quickly turn their heads when they thought I was maybe going to raise mine and then slowly look back out of the corner of their eyes when they saw I didn't. I couldn't completely raise my head. I stared at the tissue wrapped between my fingers and turned my body. I didn't quite look where I was going. I knew that everyone was staring at me. I knew whoever would move out of my way because whether or not I saw them, they saw me.
I saw the shoes first - saw them just peek beyond the white tissue that I had neatly folded between my fingers. A woman's black loafers on tiny, tiny feet. These feet didn't move like the others that had barely entered into my blurred vision. I looked up. Her head was just an inch or two shorter than mine, her cheeks shined from the dampness covering her wrinkled skin, she didn't wipe the tears. And then I noticed her arms. Her thin, shaking arms stretched as wide as they would go. She didn't say a word.
With the smallest movement she waved her hands inward, inviting me to her. Without hesitation I fell into her petite frame. Her arms closed around me with a gentle firmness that only a woman of aged wisdom can possess. She cried with me. She wiped my tears.
"What is his name?" she held my face in her hands as she asked.
"C_____." She nodded, paused, as though committing it to memory.
"What is your name?" she continued.
"I will be praying." She softly patted my cheek and ushered me past.
Everyone serves a purpose. To someone at some time we all have a purpose. The smallest act, the simplest gesture can do a world of good. Each one of these tiny acts, each fulfilled purpose, first comes with a choice. To look away or to watch for someone else to say something, someone else to do something, for someone else to step up. In everything we have a choice. In everything we have a purpose - no matter how small it may seem. We all have a purpose.
This woman stepped forward into the path of a heartbroken woman - a heartbreak that is so often misunderstood in the civilian world - and she fulfilled a great purpose. She provided much needed comfort. She provided unexplainable kindness.
Do something good. When you want to look away from someone else's misfortune, someone else's heartache, take just a second and choose. When you want to share that latest bit of gossip about another spouse, take a moment and choose your purpose. Drop a flower with an encouraging note on the doorstep of a military spouse you know is having a hard time - or on the doorstep of a spouse that you don't know whether or not they are having a hard time. When you have that littlest feeling in your gut or that subtle tugging on your heart that "someone should do something," or that "something just seems a little ... " a little off, a little down, a little ... When you have that feeling that you should give 'someone' a call, that you should bake that extra batch of cookies, that you should invite 'someone' to meet for coffee - decide your purpose.
You may never know how much good you will do but you always choose how much good you won't.
Had anyone every shown you an unexpected kindness? Please share it in the comments. It's always comforting to be reminded of the good in people. : )
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.