Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our strange encounter on Christmas Day

We had the weirdest thing happen on Christmas Day.

We were headed to my mom's for Christmas dinner. It was around 2pm and we were, of course, running late. G hadn't napped (dammit!), but other than that, things were going fine for a busy day.

We live at the end of a long hill and the straightest, although not always fastest, route to the freeway is down the main drag - peppered with stoplights. We were at one such stoplight when the van started to drift forward. I started to say something to my husband about not hitting the car in front of us, but it was already too late. We bumped into the car. My husband had drifted off at a freaking stoplight. Thanks honey, for staying up until 2am the night before. Because, you know, our kids sleep in (do you hear the sarcasm?).

The woman in the car got out, started swearing at us, and said something about calling the police. The light was still red, but changed as she got back into her car. My husband turned on the blinker and motioned for her to turn, and pull over. She pulled into a parking lot and we pulled up behind her.

We literally bumped into her, there was absolutely no damage whatsoever. The woman, however, was in a tirade. I walked up to the drivers side of her car and she rolled down her window and started yelling at me (and why my husband wasn't with me at this point, I'm not sure - it was him who was driving! but anyway...). I kept telling her we were really sorry, but if she'd just get out and look, she'd see there was no damage to her car. I don't really remember what she was saying at this point - mostly just yelling and swearing at me. I asked her what she wanted us to do and she'd say "nothing, just go and merry fucking Christmas", but then threaten to call the cops when I tried to walk away. I tried to reason with her, since her car was truly fine (as was ours), and finally asked, "Ma'am, what do you want me to do?" over and over again. At that point she started threatening me, saying she was going to get out of the car and hit me if I didn't leave her alone. Basically, she lost it.

I went back to the van and told my husband she'd threatened me. I was near tears. He pulled up next to her and she reiterated that she would call the cops if we left. The last thing we need is for some stupid incident to be blown out of proportion, so we obviously stayed. We got out and talked to her more and as the conversation went on, that's when things got strange.

Her demeanor slowly changed from being angry at us, to pouring her heart out. It was a little unnerving, this stranger in a car telling us so many intimate details about her life. It poured from her as if she'd been saving it all up for goodness knows how long and finally all the trauma in her life had to come spewing out. She has 5 days to move out of her apartment, but doesn't have a new place to live; her sister's boyfriend pushed her off a horse and she's in a coma; her mother has cancer; she recently got out of an abusive relationship; she uses food as a drug and was over 300lbs at her heaviest; her car had recently been hit by someone else, but they left the scene; it went on and on.

She cried and sobbed and told us more. We kept telling her how sorry we were, we didn't mean to make her day worse, she had enough burdens to bear. She apologized profusely for how she'd spoken to me and for threatening me. I cried as I forgave her. We asked over and over what we could do to help her. Our intent was genuine. We started speaking with her in an attempt to pacify her so she wouldn't accuse us of doing damage to her car that we didn't do; we stayed because our hearts went out to her and we wanted to help this woman. It was Christmas Day and she was contemplating suicide.

She refused all offers of help, even just buying her a coffee or hot chocolate for the drive home. She wouldn't take our information; didn't want our names or phone numbers. We never did ask for hers. All I know is her first name, and I have a picture of the back of her car in my cell phone, taken as she raged at me to make sure I had proof her car wasn't damaged.

She asked only one thing of us as we left, that we pray for her. So Monica, wherever you are, I am praying for you. I pray that the drama in your life cools off, that you are able to begin surrounding yourself with positive, helpful people; that your sister recovers and your mother finds health, or at least peace. I pray that you continue to make the changes in your life that need to happen for you to be happy and peaceful. I pray that 2008 brings good news for you and your family.

They say things happen for a reason. I hope so, and I hope we did enough. I hope that she just needed someone to listen to her, to help her get through the day. I can't shake the feeling that we were supposed to meet her. I just hope we did whatever it was we were supposed to do; that the meeting helped her in some way, meant something to her.

In a strange way, it meant something to me.

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