Recently in conversation with Mr. C. and some family I recounted a tale that happened when Mr. T. was still in hospital that really got me thinking. Something that I had actually forgotten about but re-telling the incident got me thinking to some of my own behaviours and how insensitive I may be sometimes.
It happened one day as Mr. C. and I were driving home from the hospital late at night. We used to arrive at the hospital bright and early each day, trying as much as possible to drive in before traffic hit, and leaving each night well after all the downtown workers had gone home to their beds. For the first week or so we stayed over night at the hospital, until a nurse took Mr C. aside and advised that it would probably be a good idea for us to go home at night since we lived driving distance to the hospital and that we really needed to rest since we may be a while. I think I’ve mentioned before that going home at night was always the hardest for me. I felt like I was abandoning my baby. I was leaving him alone up there, in that little incubator, all by himself. I was his mother. I was supposed to be there…always. I felt terrible. My logic knew that I wasn’t physically capable of sitting beside him for 24 hours straight. Obviously I needed to sleep. I needed to eat. My heart, however, felt like I should not be going home until I could take him with me. Mr. C. and I drove out of that parking garage into the dark, cool fall air every evening with a heavy heart. Tears in our eyes, pain in our soul we drove home most evenings silently, counting the minutes until we were able to go back.
It was about 11pm and we were on the highway heading home after a long emotional day. There wasn’t much traffic as it was late, but there were cars on the road since it is a big city. I guess someone felt we weren’t driving fast enough. Suddenly we both noticed headlights flashing very close behind us. Mr. C checked his speed and we were in fact going the speed limit, not under, not over The car continued to follow us very closely from behind. My heart started to beat a little faster. I asked “what is he doing?” Mr. C. just kept driving and told me to ignore him. The car then pulled out drove around us and slid in right in front of us. It then slowed down very very slowly.
The person driving this car was obviously in a hurry to get somewhere. He or she obviously felt as though we were driving wayyy to slow. He or she obviously felt as though it was their responsibility to teach us a lesson and show us that we were driving too slow in the slow lane of the highway. What the driver of this car didn’t realize was that we had just left our newborn baby tied up to monitors and tubes in an incubator where he was fighting for his life. What they didn’t realize was that my belly was still swollen from giving birth yet I had no baby in my arms. What they didn’t realize is that my heart was physically hurting, a part of my soul was being ripped from me so his “lesson” was falling on deaf ears. I remember feeling angry, feeling like I wanted to scream and shout, kick and scream.. Like I wanted to shake the driver of this car and tell him how the fact that he was stuck behind a “slow” driver on the highway may be a bit unfair but it paled in comparison to what every parent that just left their baby at Sick Kids was experiencing. I wanted to write a letter to the paper hoping that maybe the driver would read it and realize what he/she had done the night before and would think twice before doing it again, but I had more pressing things to deal with that that. So I let it go. I went home, slept a fitful lonely sleep, and returned to my son the following morning, the incident long gone from my mind.
Until this evening when I recounted the tale. I remembered the pain I was in and how this persons actions just intensified it. My mind couldn’t handle it with everything else going on. What I realized in that moment is how many times I may have behaved in an insensitive way. Where I have flipped someone off for cutting me off while driving. For driving too slowly, or too quickly. For not behaving the way that I feel they should. I’m sure we all have done it. Someone at work makes a mistake, doesn’t reply to our email, asks us a question that we’ve already answered and we get short, snippy, frustrated, maybe even angry. We honk when someone is driving too slow and wave our hands madly when someone goes before us at a four-way stop. What probably never or rarely crosses our mind, is what is going on with that person. Maybe they are on their way home to their sick child. Maybe they just lost a loved one Perhaps they are going through a terrible divorce or just lost their job. Maybe his wife is in labour or she just got a call that her father is in the hospital. Whatever the reason is, we don’t know what is going on in their lives. Believe it or not, the world doesn’t revolve around us. Of course, sometimes people cut us off because they are jerks and feel like the own the road but sometimes it may just be because their minds are elsewhere.
My lesson learned is that the next time someone does something that makes them seem like they are being a royal pain in the butt, I will try to think of what they may be going through and cut them some slack. Try it and you may be surprised at how your heart starts to lighten up a little when you let the little things slide.