Recently, my father died. He was 52, nothing wrong, no warning … just gone. A cavalcade of thoughts and emotions swirled through my mind –- I didn’t get to say goodbye, my dad wouldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle, Superman really doesn’t exist.
Coming to terms with grief is going to be a long and arduous journey, but I have already found a positive lesson in his passing.
On the day he died, my aunt took me to the airport so that I could be with my mother. I had been crying all day, but had found a window of strength to get through the tense whirlwind of unpleasantness I had to face.
At the airport I ran into two women.
The first woman directed me to my gate … then she looked at me, paused, and smiled. She randomly gave me a hug and said, “You’re so cute.” The only thing I like more than compliments are hugs. Her random act of kindness was enough to make me smile on the worst day of my life.
As I walked up to the gate, I saw that all the seats were taken. I was in no condition to stand, I was so nervous I felt like I would pass out at any moment. There was a woman who had her purse upon the seat next to her. I asked her if I could sit down. She said no.
I’ve never been more angry at the selfishness of another human being in my entire life. I was taken aback, but calmly I said, “My dad died this morning.” Then I called her a profanity that would have made my Brooklyn-born father proud and walked away. She was bewildered and the people sitting around laughed at her.
I sat on the floor and thought about what had just happened. I realized that she had no idea what had just happened to me — how often are we rude, selfish, or indifferent to people when we don’t know what they’ve been through?
It dawned on me that every time I got angry at someone for mundane things like driving too slow, not returning a phone call, or showing up late … that anger was misplaced. The people in question could really just be having a bad day — carelessness isn’t always a character flaw. Although it pains me to say this, that woman might even be going through a rough time. Even though she had no right to be so rude, I should have been the bigger person and not said anything (I really don’t regret it though)
I will always remember that day when I am upset at someone for something trivial. There really is no excuse not to treat people with love and respect — at all times. For me, now more than ever, it is painfully obvious that you get one shot at this life, and it can be taken away from you at any time. Not to sound like a hippie, but instead of harboring annoyance, anger, or resentment, it’s important that we all help each other and be kind to one another for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.