Today is the second time I stood crying in a Starbucks. I just spent a wonderful weekend visiting my mother and it was time to leave. It was very early in the morning and I tiptoed in her room to kiss her goodbye as she slept. I hated to leave. I wanted the time together to never end. I ached for her aching heart. I knew she would wake up and have to get through another day, the best she can, without her mate of 74 years by her side. As we were driving away, I had already shed my inevitable tears and thought I was done, however, 40 minutes later, as I ordered my “coffee”, (Grande skinny latte, 1 shot of espresso, 6 pumps of sugar free vanilla – essentially, glorified chocolate milk), the barista asked me if I had a good weekend. Tears stung my eyes and throat as I struggled to tell her, “yes, the best.” As I waited for my “coffee”, holding my feelings in check, the kind barista said, “is it the coffee taste you don’t like”, referring to my order containing very little coffee and a lot of sweet flavoring masking any coffee taste. I laughed through the tears. She didn’t know she had given me a gift of kindness and laughter in the midst of sadness.
The first time, I stood crying in Starbucks, was on the morning of October 30th when my father passed away in the early morning hours. Going through the process of death and not having slept for three nights, I knew I needed just to go out for a while and deal with some of the emotions I was having. For some reason, Starbucks seemed like the logical place to go. With a shaky voice, I ordered my “coffee” then, awaiting my name to be called, the tears started to flow as I watched the people of Starbucks. No one knew my intense pain. No one knew what I had witnessed. No one knew I had tears rolling down my face as I held my complete despair tucked away. No one looked my way. I felt almost invisible in a sea of people talking, laughing, going about their business.
So why do I share all of this? I have become painfully aware of people all around me who are keeping their feelings in check as they go about doing ordinary things like buying groceries, going to the bank, eating in a fast food restaurant and yes, ordering Starbucks. People are fighting hard things – grief, marriages in crisis, sick children, wayward children, health concerns, financial hardships, anxiety, depression, loneliness, abusive relationships, and numerous other battles. My grief and sadness have made me more tolerant and more empathetic to the people around me.
One of my resolutions for 2019: look around and see if there is someone “crying in Starbucks” and give them a smile, an acknowledgment, a feeling of hope as they are walking through their pain and burdens. My hope is we can take our own burdens and use what we learn, on our own journey, to help others. In essence, I pray we can all learn how to do life better…….together.