You Never Know

Battered shoes

Many years ago, I was on an hospital elevator with a minister I knew.  A somber man got on with us.  He looked straight ahead, deep in thought. Attempting to make conversation, the minister said, “Smile, it can’t be that bad.”

The man’s expression never changed.  In a low voice he remarked, “My son just died.”

The minister and I were both shocked.  As he stammered an apology, all three of us burst in to tears.  We hugged the man, offered shocked condolences, and offered to make phone calls for him.  The minister got off and went with him.

I’ve never forgotten, and suspect neither of them has either.  You just never know what a person is dealing with.

37 thoughts on “You Never Know

    • I said a horrible thing to a wonderful friend once. I’d have given anything to take back. She was morbidly obese to the point she had trouble ambulating but was doing great in nursing school, despite that challenge. Upon returning to classes after the summer break, I was congratulating her on her weight loss. Proudly she said, “I’ve lost seven pounds!”(I thought) I was happy for her.
      I said, “Seven pounds. That’s great. Pretty soon you’ll be able to tell a huge difference. She wailed, “I said seventy!” I felt just awful. By the time she completed nursing school, she’d lost two hundred. It was life-changing for her.


  1. If I’d been there I would have thought the minister rather insensitive, seeing as you were in a hospital. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to put two and two together. But then maybe I’m so used to pain that I can read it just from facial expression or body language. I don’t know. In some ways I wish I wasn’t able to read people so easily. But like Laura said (and it was her reblog that brought me here), at least the situation was turned around with your compassion towards him. Poor man sounds like maybe he needed to be able to say the words :-/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. We never know, do we? And yet, at least you both responded with compassion and comfort for this man’s loss when you heard this sad news. But this makes me look around at strangers in a different way. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

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