I had to run to Office Depot over my lunch break today to pick up some supplies. Push pins, masking tape, index cards–typical things I use in project planning. It was a routine visit to a routine store but this time something very strange happened and I still don’t have any words. I still don’t know what I should have said, and I feel bad for saying nothing at all.
After gathering the things I needed from the various corners of the store, I approached the register where a very sweet older lady greeted me with a smile.
“Nice weather we’re having. Glad summer’s finally here,” she said.
“Oh yeah, me too, I’ve been getting a lot of good bike rides in lately.”
She paused her scanning for a second, then continued and looked up at me.
“You know, you sound just like one of my friends. His name’s Michael. He passed away recently.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“He was thirty two or thirty three. Somewhere in there.”
I’m always sad when I hear that someone my age has died. I waited for her to continue, wondering what could have happened to her friend. Death at such a young age is usually fast and unexpected.
“He killed himself. Suicide. I wish I’d had just one more chance to talk to him before he did it. He was always so depressed. I wanted to tell him that there are other women in the world, that it’s not worth it.”
At this point I had no idea what to say. I swiped my card and she handed me my receipt. She snapped out of her malaise and, with a smile, said “Thanks for coming by! Have a nice day!”
I didn’t even say goodbye.
Sometimes there are no words.