One, two, three….go.
The chaos was all around the lobby, people in line for wine, chocolates and tickets yet to be picked up. Old friends catching up and happily anticipating the opera they are about to enjoy. It was the usual suspects of problems to help correct …reprinting tickets that were left on the kitchen table or locating tickets for a singer who should have left them for a friend, parent, agent but didn’t. It was also the last performance of a very busy season. We had a large crowd and the lines to purchase last minuet tickets seemed to grow each time I checked.
I turned around to help the next person in line and she was already there in front of me. The woman spoke softly as she explained the situation then I noticed the young woman just beyond her in a wheelchair. This woman had come down, taking a chance on purchasing tickets in hopes that we could find a spot for her daughter, she loved opera and explained that she could take a few steps if needed, but not much more. I don’t know what her condition was and it hardly mattered to me in that moment, I wanted to find a way to get her into the performance. Her mother proceeded to tell me that she knew we were very crowded and that she had explained to her daughter that they might not get in to see the performance at all. She also shared with me that her daughter loved watching the women in their fancy dresses and high heels so she thought the trip would be worth it just for that. While it is true we have numerous spots on each level to accommodate wheelchairs we had sold out all of the spots prior to the performance that day.
Sometimes if available we remove all of the chairs from a box which are often thought of as a very special and elite place to sit and we are able to easily accommodate a smaller wheelchair, I found a space in which this would be possible. I told her mom what the plan was and that we would leave one chair so she could sit by her daughter. When I printed the tickets and handed them to the mother tears were already well formed in her eyes, “She will feel like a princess” and I don’t know what it was about those words that felt like a grenade went off inside my chest. I found myself with tears in my eyes looking at her daughter sweetly grinning from ear to ear. It stayed with me the rest of the day and the day after and I tried to write about it with little success, until today.
Lauren called me around 11am today to ask what I was doing for my lunch break, I told her I needed to run an errand and drop something off to a dear friend but I was free after that was done. She wanted to buy new running shoes, and asked if I would go with her to pick them out. “Of course” so off we went to Bob Roncker’s Running Spot, the very same place I had bought my running shoes over a year ago, much heavier and terrified of what they would think of me, I knew I didn’t look like anyone else who wanted to buy running shoes. If you have been reading for awhile you will remember that Meggie helped me that day, she helped me feel comfortable in my new shoes and in my old skin. She was there today and it was so good to see her, to catch up a bit and of course she helped Lauren find the perfect shoes. I don’t know that I can ever put into words which truly capture how much her kindness meant to me or how it affected me in such a positive way going forward in my life but I hope she knows.
It matters how we treat ourselves, and It matters how we treat each other. Even when we don’t really understand what someone else is going through, and especially if we think it does not matter, in those moments it matters the most. Opera tickets and running shoes don’t seem like they would make a big difference in the world… but they can. As I move into August and begin to refocus on weight loss, exercising and eating healthier with the hectic opera season behind me, I wrote something on my refrigerator today. Then I rewrote it and taped it up on my mirror in the bathroom then proceeded to scribble it on the front of my writing journal ….”You must find the strength to be as good to yourself as those who surround you.” and I am lucky enough to have some amazing people in my life.
I can’t tell you how glad I am it’s August…here we go.