An Uplifting Shopping Trip

By Judie Schaal

It was Friday. I awoke to the spring rain splashing against my window. The clouds were dark, and the sky gave no hint that the inclement weather outside would clear any time soon. My husband was out of town on business, and I knew the rain would prevent me from completing the outside tasks I had planned for the day.

I turned over. I really didn’t want to go back to sleep, but I didn’t want to get up either. Those old feelings of insecurity and unloveliness seemed to be trying to creep back into my brain. I had banished them once, gone through therapy and learned how to be more positive and gentler with myself, but, now, this morning, the rain and the howling wind seemed to be overriding all the hard work I had done. Was there significance to my days? Was I doing enough with my life? Was I worthy? The harder the rain fell, the deeper into uncertainty I began to descend. I must get up. I must think of something that would make me feel better.

I have friends who say shopping always lightens their spirits and gladdens their hearts. I wasn’t much of a shopper, but I decided to give it a try. Maybe a new dress would be in order – one full of bright colors or a cheery print. And, possibly more colorful surroundings in the house would help. I’d find a jazzy tablecloth for the kitchen table and place a candle in the center. Yes, shopping sounded like a good idea. I ate some breakfast, got dressed and headed out to the car.

The gas gauge was close to zero, so I stopped at the corner station to fill up. I went inside to purchase a bottle of water and bumped into an acquaintance of mine. We chatted for a while. Then she told me she was on her way to work. She had been with the same company for more than thirty years and had risen to a very responsible position. She seemed to be in a hurry. I was sure she had much to accomplish that day. But, as she turned to go she hesitated a moment, put her hand on my arm and said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you something. I wanted to say how much the article you wrote about your depression moved me. I felt you were talking to me, and it was comforting to know that others can have the same feelings.”

I looked at my feet. I didn’t know what to say. At times I had regretted writing the article she mentioned about that terrible period in my life. Finally I just said, “Thank you.”

Back in the car, stunned by her announcement, I headed for the mall. As I was pulling into a parking space my cell phone rang. I’d almost forgotten I was “on call” as a volunteer for the Rape Crisis Center. On the other end of the line was a woman who had been raped two years ago. She’d had a bad night reliving the horrible experience of physical violation and mental intimidation. She just needed to talk. I sat there in the car for fifteen or twenty minutes letting her ventilate and responding occasionally with a suggestion or two. With a final sigh she said, “Thank you so very much, you have been a great help.” I replied, “You’re welcome,” and then wished her better days.

I sat there a while longer thinking about her, then decided to check my messages. There was only one. It was from my four year-old grandson. I had baby-sat for him the previous day, and we’d had such fun, riding bikes, hitting golf balls, reading books and laughing at the mess we’d made on counters and floors while mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. His message sounded a little garbled, but then I heard him say, “Hi Juju. What are you doing? Can I come spend the night? Call me. I wove you.” It was always special fun for him to find his mom’s cell phone and push that one button that connected him straight to my cell phone. However, he had no idea how his actions could generate a deep warm feeling in my heart, especially this morning.

I had forgotten to turn off the car’s motor, and, as I snapped my phone shut, an old Whitney Houston song came on the radio. As I listened to it, a tear ran down my cheek…not of sadness, but of joy.

We all want to make a place in this world; we all want our voices to be heard.
Everyone wants a chance to be someone. We all have dreams we need to dream,
Sweeter than any star you can reach, yet when you reach, you’ve found…
You’ve found someone.
You hold this world a priceless thing, the greatest gift that life can bring…
Is when you look back and say…You were loved.
You were loved by someone, touched by someone, held by someone,
Meant something to someone.
Loved somebody, touched somebody’s heart along the way.
You can look back and say…you were loved.
You can have diamonds in your hand, have all the riches in the land,
But without love you don’t really have a thing.
When somebody cares that you’re alive, when somebody trusts you with their life,
That’s the way you know, that you have all you really need.
You can look back and say, you were loved.

Whether it be friend, stranger or family, sometimes we don’t realize the effect we have on someone. I wiped the tear away, turned on my phone and called my husband to say I loved him. Then I put the car in reverse and headed back home. I really didn’t need to do any shopping.

About this writer

  • Judie Schaal Judie Schaal lives in Murrells Inlet with Gary, her husband of 50 years. She has written for On The Green magazine, the Sun News as a tennis columnist and is currently copy editor and photographer of a local color 28 page newsletter.

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