I Missed All the Signs

“I was at a wedding yesterday and it left me feeling a bit sad.” She told me. In her voice I could hear the strain of a person forcing back tears. Her cheeks had started to turn rosy. Her eyes were water. She did not shed a tear.
I was caught by surprise.
That was not how her sentence was supposed to end. But there were we, standing face to face, talking about this event that would normally bring beauty, joy and happiness. Only this time, it did not (at least not to this specific attendee). I honestly cannot remember what my response was. We were heading to gym class. We did not want to be late. So I mumbled something consoling (I think) as we both rushed out of the changing room and into the gym area.
As we travel in the same general direction on our way home, I offered Stace a ride. In the car I asked whether she wanted to talk about the wedding she attended. She had been through so much in the past year, she told me. She change jobs, moved apartments and also parted ways with a long-term boyfriend. Her life had fallen apart and she was currently picking up the pieces -one at a time. Her family had not really been there for her. Seeing them at the wedding, all cordial as if nothing had happened was almost more than she could handle. Some even pushed further by asking if she was happy at which point she almost broke down. It was a long gruesome night for her. Stace confessed she had spent most of that evening avoiding people.
My heart went out to her.
Although I did not tell her, I admire Stace’s courage and her strength. Had we not ventured into that discussion I would never have suspected her struggle. Stace is kind, warm and friendly. Nothing about the way she carries herself suggests she is in pain.
This morning I was talking to a good friend, Tasha. A woman who is hard of hearing. Over the years Tasha has taught me some sign language. Although amateurish, I can pass a few messages along. Just the basics like “have a good weekend” or “I’m tired”, “happy” and of course “I’m going to a party”. I also know the alphabet. I have always wished to learn more. I am embarrassed to say that I have not-yet. I still intend to, someday. But enough of that.
Tasha is just about the most cheerful person I know. Always bubbly and happy. She is ever ready with a smile when I approach her. An eager beaver when it comes to lending a helping hand. She is a good story-teller. Last Friday she mentioned that she and her husband’s wedding anniversary was the following day. She had bought a beautiful card with puppies and a cupid for her husband. She was very excited (so romantic). While we were talking I asked her how the anniversary celebrations turned out. She told me it was a quiet one. She must have read the surprise on my face because she quickly went on to explain.
Apparently last year in April her husband was diagnosed with cancer. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy which causes his health and moods to fluctuate a lot. I was astonished by this news. I have known Tasha and been friends with her for more than five years now. We talk regularly and yet somehow I had not even noticed that she was experiencing hardship. I cannot remember even a single instance where she was lost in thought or seemed to be in low spirits. How did I not see it?
It got me thinking.
We live and mingle with people who are experiencing something everyday. It is never obvious. No one puts a sign on their forehead announcing their circumstances. Most people will not even share their challenges unless asked. We think of the challenges in our lives only. We have our minds wrapped in our own struggles. And sometimes we even forget to be gentle with others. We forget to stop and ask how they are really doing. We forget that they too have things affecting them. As we are the stars of our own shows we sometimes miss the moments when our friends and our families need our presence. Both these girls are people who I have known for a while. I missed the moments when they could have used a shoulder to cry on.
If we cannot for whatever reason be there for those who may be struggling, at the very least, we should practice kindness. Be kinder to everyone. As Socrates once said, be kinder than necessary for everyone is fighting some kind of battle.
As I have learnt, you never know.
 

Author: Valerie

I am a storyteller, a writer. I post new articles every other Tuesday. Life is full of wonder. Life is beautiful. I love the uncertainty that comes with it. The ups and downs of living -its high points and low moments, the good times and the bad. I love it all. But what I love even more, is writing about it! I enjoy mentoring girls and young women. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing women rocking in whatever they pursue. My writing however, is in most cases unisex. There is a little something for everyone on all matters lifestyle. My most passionate topic areas include fulfilling my life goals (fighting procrastination), my relationship with money,  and self love (because no one else will know how you expect to be treated if you don't treat yourself right). And then there's travel, food, fashion and books. I have a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree (BBA). I also possess extensive experience  and education in communication studies. Welcome to my world. Comment, share and have some fun while you're at it. Are you looking for a creative writer? Or would you like to collaborate? Drop me an email at: memoirsofakenyan@hotmail.com

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