She came to me, took a letter from an envelope and asked if I would read it to her. It was a page full of detailed instructions of how to prepare for a colonoscopy. As I continued to read, I felt myself filled with compassion for this woman who in past months, often challenged me to practice my patience. She asked questions throughout. I began to worry about how in the world she could remember all of this information, who could read it to her again, and how she would read the instructions on the actual “potion” she would have to drink the day before her procedure.
I met her and her husband when she was pregnant. Now, her adorable, easy going, big brown eyed boy, is 6 months old. She asks me if I can watch him while she goes through a couple tubs of clothing to see if there’s anything she can use. (Ok, twisted my arm.) I just love this boy who is alert and happy and who smiles when you say his name. We have all delighted in watching him grow.
The first time I met him, he could hardly stay in the room. Too many people. Too crowded. Too much noise. He speaks softly but if you move forward to listen closer or to understand what he said, he moves back. He has a complicated story but it is best explained in part by telling you he has PTSD. Tonight, however, he’s back. He’s inside the room more than he’s outside and even he cannot resist the temptation to talk to and smile at the sweet baby I am holding. He teases that the baby has a mohawk and walks away smiling. In that moment, I just want to cry. If only for a moment, the lives of this wounded man and this little one so fresh from God merge.
I hadn’t seen her in a while. I remembered her face but not her name. She told me she’s been gone because she had a stroke. At home, alone, her dog’s continual barking alerted a neighbor who finally called for help. After five weeks of physical therapy, she has just been out of the hospital for three weeks but is walking and talking and grateful. One arm and hand is weak so I helped her throughout the evening and learned even more of her story.
I see her most every month. She lives in a hotel and has no car. She relies on the kindness of friends and allies to give her rides where she needs to go. I had a box of saltines left over from dinner and offered it to her. She was more excited than I would have ever expected. She had been to the Food Bank today and told me she got everything she needs to make chili… and now she has the crackers to go with it!
He is a cute young man who loves being around people and delights in communicating. Unfortunately, he is non-verbal. He signs and gives us clues and when we’re all at a total loss of what he’s trying to tell us, he’ll write down a word to give us a hint. He “tells” us that a girl broke his heart three times. He wanted us to know he wants to run in an upcoming 5K but only has boots. He needs tennis shoes. He holds up one finger from each hand. Size 11? Yes, he nods, size 11. I am quietly excited because I am almost positive I have a brand new pair of size 11 tennis shoes for him at home.
They live together but she tells me they are really more just friends than anything else. Young and struggling and trying to figure it all out, they tell me about how they missed the last Laundry Love by just a few minutes and have been doing laundry in their bathtub for the last 3 weeks.
These are a few of the neighbors we spent time with during just three hours of Laundry Love last night. When most of us think of Laundry Love we picture washers and dryers, laundry supplies, and quarters. I have learned these are just a small part of the picture of what really happens at Laundry Love. Washing clothes brings us together at laundromats. The time that it takes for clothes to wash, dry and be folded gives us time to talk, listen, empathize, laugh, read, play with babies, and tonight, even share a meal together. All of us are in the same place for the same reason. That’s how it happens…
Eyes opening. Hearts listening. Lives merging.
Touched by those Moments we Merge,