Monday, June 15, 2009

honesty above awkwardness

Never before have I had so many questions and comments concerning my scars as I have since starting my current job. I guess partly it is because many of these scars are only a year or so old, but it is also due to more exposure. I spend much of my day using my hands to show people their options. Somehow this gives them the right to ask personal questions.

Usually I laugh it off and talk about how clumsy I am (which is not a lie). If they push for specifics I blame a stray piece of glass, a neighbor's cat (who moved 6 months ago), or something else to that effect.

It has crossed my mind that some of them must know, but I choose not to think about it. This week I realized that these are the people who don't ask questions, who stick to socially acceptable topics.

Except her. I don't know her name or anything about her, but she's a hero to me. . .

She was looking for a plaque, the metal kind you can get engraved. I told her we didn't have anything like that but was able to point her to a few local trophy shops. She mentioned she was from out of town and not very familiar with the area, so I gave her the phone number of the nearest one. She thanked me and left.

In 10ish minutes she was back. She spoke quietly, asking if she could talk to me. I agreed, knowing this had nothing to do with framing or anything else in the store. She said she'd noticed the scars on my arm and very emotionally told me about her friend's suicide the week before (the reason she was in town). She showed me her friend's picture and urged me to get help and to know that things will get better. Looking back, I can think of so much I could/should have said, but at the time all I could do was whisper thank you and try not to let my tears catch the attention of my boss, who of course was not too far away.

How many times have I suspected, or even known, that a stranger was hurting and done nothing? How many times have I ignored the obvious pain of my friends? Only because the truth is ugly, awkward, and makes us all more vulnerable. This girl is a hero for seeing the value of Truth above what may be uncomfortable.

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