Act #360: Show grace in elevators (and other places).
Seven years ago I found myself in the elevator of a hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had just landed from the longest 4-hour flight of my life and was on my way to see my father, who had had a heart attack the day before, and who I was told would likely not be alive when I arrived. I hadn't slept in over a day. It was a devastating and unexpected blow to face the threat of losing my (then) 57 year-old otherwise healthy father. And at that precise moment, I remember kind of hating the world. And then the elevator stopped to let on an adorable pregnant woman and her husband. They were beaming. They were laughing. They were talking about touring the hospital where they would be giving birth to their child. And I remember kind of hating them. How could the world continue to revolve, business as usual, when my father was dying? How lucky that couples like this one had the option to be happy and hopeful and excited about their future, while mine (and my mother's) was about to crumble. Miraculously my father survived and I almost forgot about that dark day in the elevator....that is until a year or so later, I found myself 9 months pregnant, riding up a hospital elevator, waiting to give birth to my son. This time, I was the one beaming, and happy, and hopeful about my future. And just when I was about to ask my husband something about the color of the nursery, or whether or not we had already tested the car seat, a woman and her mother stepped on to the elevator. And I saw the exhaustion, the strain, the fear, the sheer hopelessness in their eyes. God knows what kind of sadness, threat, loss they were facing that day. And so my wide obnoxious grin, became a more gentle, more subtle smile. My conversation about preparing for the arrival of my new son turned into a simple knowing nod and earnest "hello" to the mother-daughter pair.
Yesterday, people asked me what my son got for Christmas, why I didn't post any pictures of him in his jammies, him tearing open gifts, the beautiful brunch and appetizer spread I prepared for my family, the looks of happiness and contentment on our faces as we were fortunate to be celebrating yet another Christmas with my father. Yesterday I didn't post any of those photos on Facebook, because I just didn't know who would be getting on the elevator with me. A newly divorced single mother, a man facing his first Christmas without both of his parents, another disowned from his family when he came out a few years ago, a family spending Christmas in the hospital with their terminally ill son, a couple facing years of infertility and yet another Christmas without a child? Even though I am so very grateful for all that is good in my life right now, I know there are plenty of people on my friends list who are experiencing sadness, hopelessness, and despair - and how particularly difficult it is to be experiencing those things during the holidays. And I know that one day, when life cycles back around and it is me feeling those things again, I'd probably appreciate a little grace.