The valley of the shadow of hurting angels

Before the total solar eclipse event on March 20, 2015 I had the unique chance of meeting someone that impacted and touched my life. It happened 2 days ago this week at my office. A woman with a child came asking for a coach ticket to Italy and she went to the next door to find other prices, other departures, other offers. I was not able to see who she was with because other people came in.

I work at a travel agency. I get to meet so many people everyday! I don't get to travel much, but I get the chance of making people a memorable travel to their choice destination - either they choose a bus, a plane, train or rent a car. I make sure they get what they asked for and offer them not only the best price, but also the best encounter ever. And if they had a bad experience with another company, that's a good place to do a bounce back with them. They will return, and the experience of so many cases speak louder than my written words here.

People come and go from our lives. It's true, only some leave a mark in our path. Most of them leave without saying good-bye, or maybe they leave feeling sorry. It's their right, I don't blame them.

When this lady and her girl of 5 years old entered my office the other day I didn't know what kind of encounter was this going to be. She was frustrated that her kid was not listening to her, had a bunch of green markers in her hand and was painting everything in her way - the people stopper, the fliers in the agency... and was very close to start doing a "make-over" of the walls. I had to make sure that was not going to happen, so I handed her a vacation flyer. Gabriela - the name of this 5 year old girl - did not even open the flyer to look at the pictures (what I thought would attract her attention and somehow make her stop using the green markers all over the place) - opened the first page and started making butterflies everywhere in that flyer. I didn't know what to say.

Her mom asked my permission to leave her there with me till she went to get a bus ticket from a nearby company... and I had the chance to baby-sit Gabriela for about 15 minutes - minutes that I counted as 15 days, because I had so much work to do, so many other clients that had to be served and I was just putting them on hold for this little girl's sake. And this I don't regret, because not everyday I get to have such encounters.

Gabriela was born in May, just like me. That made me open my eyes and started asking questions about her family, her life, her likes and dislikes. She knew that on March 8th was International Women's Day, but she called it "Mother's Day" and started singing a little song in Romanian, a song that says something like this:

On your birthday, oh mommy,
As a gift I brought you my heart
And believe me, oh mommy,
A better gift than this was not in thought. 

(my personal translation of the song, the original in Romanian can be found here)

She liked butterflies. She liked green colors. She travels a lot with her mom and she sleeps in the trains - something I didn't understand till her mom came and I asked her more details... the details that made me see the valley of shadow this little girl and her mom were passing through for such a long time.

When her mom returned she opened her heart and shared some of her life of misery. She came from another town about 6 years ago, and out of love married some guy whom she didn't want to call Gabriela's father.... even if he was the biological father of her....because he mistreated her and used her, and abused her and ruined her life and Gabriela's. Now he was with another woman, and Gabriela's mom divorced him. In order for her to go to Italy with Gabriela, she needed his written consent from a local notary - and he, the brute (because I cannot call him otherwise) told her that she had to acquire the tickets first, then he will sign her the papers. I was 98% sure that he will trick her and not give her any consent. He kicked her and Gabriela out of the house in the past and had her gone from love to loss and from marriage to misery. She hated him and her hatred turned her into a difficult woman. Her body was deformed because of the nervous incidents she was forced to go through. She suffered some physical disorders because of the aftermath of this brute... something that none should have suffered. The lack of love is the source of so many diseases! Why don't we all learn this - ever?

He was an abuser in my mind. I was already creating the judgment for him, but I said nothing to her and nothing to Gabriela. My face changed expressions, I was trying to feel the hurt in her heart, in her voice, in her words, in her body expressions. Tears were falling from her eyes but she quickly gathered herself to hide them. Even if I was not able to see the tears, I knew and I felt that she was crying and regretting deep inside the big mistake she did - marrying this guy that dumped them.

The last route they were heading now, with probably the last money that were saved from here and there, was to Gabriela's grandmother that lives in Rome, Italy. They will be leaving at the end of March and will probably never return to Romania. At least that's what I would do if I were in their place....

When Gabriela's mom finished her long story, related in the few minutes we met at the agency, she started picking her bag, her coat and Gabriela's. But little Gabriela did not want to leave that fast. She was feeling OK there, in front of me, she got the attention she longed for such a long time, and we both laughed and talked like I was her biological dad, and I was doing the things that her natural father was supposed to do. No, don't get me wrong, I did not replace him that moment. I wanted Gabriela to not feel that her mother was missing, I wanted to see her smile and I wanted to know what makes her smile in life, other than drawing butterflies with her green markers. She needed the love of a father that was an absentee for such a long time, that did not think of his pleasures more than his kin. But he was a selfish as so many of us are, and though I am so full of accusations for him for all the bad things he did in life, I should blame myself too! I am not giving to my loved ones the attention they need! Why are men so selfish sometime? - that was one question that appeared in my mind, and is unanswered in the mind of so many women today, unfortunately...

Gabriela and her mom left suddenly, they realized their time there was up, and they didn't want to abuse of my time either. Gabriela's mom was very grateful for the 15 minutes I baby-sit her kid, and she finally let out a smile. I felt she was grateful for this little encounter we had. I wished her a healthy life and the protection of the Creator to be with her and little Gabriela, and she nodded, and repeated my words, and replied the same blessing to me and my own. That was something!

After 5 seconds Gabriela returned, held the door and looked in my eyes and said, "I love you! and I like your shirt!" and I could hear her mom whispering something behind the door, that she got attached to me for some unknown reason.

Well... she made my day! Nobody else told me "I love you" like this little stranger.

Why would I deserve to be loved by a stranger? Or even a person I knew for only 15-20 minutes we spent together. Why would I - another selfish person like so many others - deserve to be loved by another human being that just needed some attention, a smile, and - most of all - to be happy?

I don't know how to end this story other than with tears in my eyes. We don't know what people near us go through and we don't have the right to judge them - we have the right to judge ourselves, look in the mirror and see, like the disciples of Jesus said at the Last Supper, "Lord, am I the one?" (talking about who is the betrayer)...

Am I giving those around me the attention and the love they need? Do I care enough for them to even listen to their pain, their loss, their misery and try to help them or turn things around for them? Do I close the door for those that need my smile today? These are just some questions of reflection I asked myself after meeting Gabriela this week. I wish you met her and have this encounter I had. I wish you would see her and understand the pain she did not understand. I wish her life and her family be happy and experience joy, peace, health, prosperity, love and have all thing they need. I wish you and me be more aware of the hurting angels that pass by us in this valley of shadows we are all in. Someday, very soon, the Sun will shine - will not stay in eclipse forever - and the warmth and the light the Sun gives will change things around. Until then it's up to us to turn people to the light, and get them out of darkness. Jesus loves them as much as He loves you! Share His love with someone today! Amen.

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