She drove along the icy street near her company’s building in a daze of sadness. Her workload had felt overly intense the last few months and she was missing her kids and dreading all the things she had left to accomplish before the day was done, feeling weary all the way inside her bones and only vaguely noticing a small, thin man fruitlessly pushing a large woman in a wheelchair up the middle of the slippery street. She drove around them and pulled into the parking lot and got out of her car. Her life just felt complicated and filled with things that did not make her heart sing. Tears of frustration threatened to fall as she skidded across the parking lot to the front door, arms filled with a pile of samples and the strap of the stuffed bag she called her briefcase cutting painfully through her coat sending spasms into her shoulder.
But then she stopped in her tracks, sighed deeply and turned around to look more carefully at the struggling couple who had just finally registered all the way in her self absorbed mind. They had not made an inch of progress and the woman was now out of her wheelchair, leaning on the handles shuffling on the ice, while the man tried to guide her forward. She went back to her car and put her load in the back seat and walked over to the couple. “Do you need some help?” she asked.
They both stopped and gaped rather blankly at her as though shocked to be noticed. “I’m just trying to get her up the street three blocks for her doctor’s appointment but we can’t seem to get anywhere with all this snow and ice.” The man was scowling with frustration, his crooked, brown teeth poking out of his mouth making his frown look almost comical. He wore a worn army jacket and a dirty baseball hat on his head, curly grey hair poking out at his neck in different directions.
“Will her wheelchair fold up? I can give you a ride up the hill but I don’t think the chair will fit in my little car.”
Both of their faces lit up and they were instantly changed from struggling and angry to soft and warm and hopeful. The man spoke with great relief in his voice: “That would be so great. If you could just give her a ride, I can push the chair up the street and meet you both and get her into the building.”
“I can do that. Hold tight and I’ll pull around” she said and went back to her car, trying not to think about the possibility that the large woman, coatless, in pink polyester pants and a faded grey t-shirt that was too small for her might be crazy, since the only medical building up the street was a mental health facility. She pulled her car into the street, hopped out and opened the passenger door to assist the man in helping the woman into the seat. Her car was currently now blocking the road and two cars were unable to go around, one honking impatiently. She looked up at the honking jerk driver and smiled, then blew a kiss at his scowling face. “Asshole” she muttered under her breath.
“Yeah. The bad weather seems to bring it out in people” said the man as he helped the woman drop her large body into the seat with a huff, filling it all the way. The door didn’t look like it was going to shut easily. “Okay! I’ll hurry on up with the wheelchair” he said. “It will be easy now. See you in a second.” He placed his hand lovingly on the woman’s shoulder for a second before gently shutting the door.
She got into the driver’s seat and waited for the man to move the wheelchair out of the way of the cars and then letting them too get out of the way before she proceeded to drive up the hill. “What’s your name?” she asked the woman, noticing that she had beautiful,smooth skin and snappy, bright blue eyes that lit up her large, round face.
“Cassandra” she said shyly. “Thank you for helping us. My boyfriend was having a tough time helping me. I got so fat this year from being so sad that I can barely walk. I’m not sure why he stays with me.”
“Well, you must be quite wonderful because he clearly loves you. His eyes light up when he looks at you. No doubt about that.”
The woman’s eyes welled up with tears but she was smiling as they pulled up to the mental health building. They both turned to watch her boyfriend jog floppily up to the car with the wheelchair, grinning. “You’re chariot m’lady” he said as he opened the door with flourish and helped her into her seat with wheels. “Thank you again ma’am. We really appreciate the help. You made our day.”
“And you mine.” she said to them, smiling as he closed the door, realizing that while only ten minutes had passed since she’d lent a hand to this couple, grace had packed its glorious punch into that brief bit of time, filling her back up.