Last week I was standing in Safeway waiting as the cashiers worked their way through lines of people. This left me with some time for one of my favorite pastimes: people watching! An older woman came along and offered a few “excuse me’s” as she waded through the line waiters. She eyed me and said “you seem to be the tallest person here…could you reach something for me?” I smiled and helped her out happily…even I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach the last jars of parmesan on the back of the top shelf. I love it when the universe brightens my day by giving me a chance to brighten someone else’s.
Because it was busy, the customers in the next lane were only a few feet away. I noticed a woman and her son next to me, and she seemed to be looking for ways to pass the time as well. She sent her son on a mission to get a box of Ramen Noodles and, as he took off in a flash, muttered under her breath “and then I’ll think of something else for you to go get.” I couldn’t help but chuckle, and she quickly realized someone had been paying attention. She smiled sheepishly at me, and it was clear she just needed a parenting break. I winked and said “I laugh because it’s the ghost of Christmas future for me…my daughter will be one in a few weeks, and there are already times I use tricks like that.” She smiled back…and then I saw a light bulb go on over her head. “That’s where I know you from!”
Phrases like that still sometimes stop me in my tracks. I never know what words will follow. Where will this conversation go? Will it be someone whose password I reset back when I worked in IT? Will it be someone who saw the article in the Casper paper last year who thinks I need to be saved from my heathen ways? Will this person accost me or welcome me? I haven’t yet encountered someone making hurtful comments about my daughter or my being a parent, and I’m not sure I will be able to respond with my usual grace and civility. My mom was something of a momma grizzly bear, and I know it’s genetic.
“You spoke to my social work class last year.” I nodded, still unsure. Then came her excited smile, and “how is fatherhood going for you? When you were there, she wasn’t here yet!” We chatted for a bit and I gushed predictably about her smile, her eyes, the joys, and so on. “Every time I see something on the news about gay rights or court cases, I think about YOU.” My breath caught for a second time, but this time I knew why. “I hope that the adoption process goes well for you, and that things change and get easier soon.” I gave her a thank you, and told her that it meant a great deal to hear that. As I left the store, I took a deep breath and smiled. Then it was my turn to mutter under my breath: “Message received.”
Next week we have a meeting with the lawyer to get everything going in full swing. We don’t expect problems, but until that paper is in my hand saying it’s a done deal, I will be nervous. Scared. Uncertain of the outcome. Just as I was when my Safeway stranger recognized me. I just have to do what I always try to: do what’s right, share my heart and my story, and live from a place of love. I have to trust that it will touch hearts and that our love and commitment will be apparent to a judge as well as social work students.
Maybe it was a message from my mom. Maybe it was just random coincidence. One way or another, the universe gave me exactly what I needed. It reminded me that living my life the way I have has brought amazing people into my life, and sometimes those people are strangers. It reminded me that the Universe really will provide, and that everything happens for a reason. I’m SO glad that I grabbed that cheese from the top shelf. I needed a little instant karma. As I often tell others: “left foot, right foot…repeat as needed.”