**This is a fictional adapted story, based on a real event**
It was raining and cold, I could have stayed on the couch all day. It was one of those days that required a good book, a big fuzzy blanket and a hot cuppa coffee. The last thing I wanted to day was venture out, but with no groceries in the house, and hungry mouths to feed, It was required.
I gathered up my reusable bags and grocery bins, finished up my list so I didn't forget anything, downloaded my eBook and headed out. I will say I was feeling really sour about having to be out in the wet cold weather, but my new eBook promised to be good and would be a welcome distraction.
The drive into town was the same as it always was, but as promised my ebook was keeping me entertained. As I pulled into the parking lot, I spotted an elderly woman hunched over in front of the store picking things up off the ground. At first glanced it looked like the thin plastic bag that once housed her items had split and everything had spilled onto the sidewalk. I watched as people walked around her, stared at her and kept going. I saw her look up at a couple people with hopeful eyes, but no one stopped to help.
I grabbed the closest parking spot I could, which was still almost at the very back of the parking lot. Since the stores had opened up again they seem to be always packed. I left my bins in the car, grabbed a reusable bag and rush to see if the woman was still in need of help. As I approached her I yelled out, "Here, I have a bag for you. Let me help." We gathered up her items that had spilled all over the ground, some can soups, a canned tuna, some pasta and a now very soggy loaf of bread. It was all too much for her to carry in one cheap bag, so I told her to keep my grocery bag, and offered to take it all to her car for her. Because the parking lot was so full, she too was parked way at the back.
As we shuffled to the back of the parking lot, slower than snails, people whizzed by in their cars completely oblivious to what had just went down at the front of the store. I asked her if she would have someone that could help her once she arrived home, clearly these items would be too heavy for her. A look of sadness swept over her face; "No, I don't. I am a widow. I used to have neighbors that would help, and my son used to come take me to the store, but they won't do that anymore." She took a deep sighing breath, then looked at the ground. "No one helps anymore, they say it's to protect me." In that moment, my heart broke for her. This woman has spent the entire year completely alone. She explained to me how the kids across the road used to come take care of her lawn, but the mom wouldn't let them anymore, she said it wasn't safe. She told me how her son said he was afraid to come help her, because he may make her sick and she could die. She told me that she had tried really hard to learn how to do the video telephone thing that her grandkids had set up for her, but it never seemed to work. She told me about how lonely she was, and how somedays it all just didn't feel worth it. She told me about how much she misses people, conversation and sharing love. She told me how she wishes that her family would have given her the choice to see them or not. She told me that at her age, she would have taken one last visit with them over this year of loneliness.
As she poured her heart out, I could feel the ache. After packing her things into her car, helping her slide into the driver's seat I handed her my business card. "I come to this store at least once a week, call if you need something picked up."I said to her. She smiled that smile we give people when we know we won't call, because we know we don't want to be a burden. I closed her door and walked back to my car.
I had to take a moment before I could go into the store. This poor woman's story isn't the only one like this. We have become so disconnected from each other, secluded in our own homes. We don't often see the damage, heartbreak and mental toll happening behind others closed doors. I know I am guilty of putting my head down and marching through, just trying to get to the end of the day. I have been completely oblivious of what is happening around me many times. I am sure I have denied a friend or loved one a visit when they really were struggling and needed me, or someone. I know I have said "once this is over we can grab a tea and connect" to loved ones that I will actually never be able to connect with again because they are now gone from this earth. I know there are people that I won't hug again because they didn't get a tomorrow. I know I do what I can to care for and be considerate of others needs and views, but I know we as humans need each other.
I really don't have any answers here, or a great way to end this blog. I don't have any wise words of deep wisdom to offer you. I can't offer advice, as I am not in your shoes. I don't know what is best for you, your household, your situation. I guess all I can say is, at this point, this far into all this, let's just offer love to each other. Don't judge that lady for hugging her friend, you don't know the story. Don't Judge that man for staying secluded in his home, you don't know his story. Don't assume you know the reasons people feel, think, act the way they do. You don't know the stories. Let's try to get back to seeing each other as fellow humans, without category, without prejudgement, without assuming you know the story. Ask Questions with an open heart and judgement free mind.