What a man crying at the airport said rocked me

Grieving man

Last week, I was on my way to Denver for an APCO conference where I was meeting with some of our 911 recording customers.  I was changing planes at O'Hare in Chicago, and made a detour as nature called.

I gradually became aware that the gentleman next to me in the restroom was trying desperately to hold it together, his face red from crying.  As I was washing my hands next to him, I asked him if he was ok.

“Yeah, I'm fine”, he managed to say, obviously not fine.  I started to walk away, but something made me stop and ask again what was going on and if there was anything I could do to help.

He looked up at me with red rimmed eyes, and said, “My daughter was just killed and raped.”

I wasn't quite sure what to say.  I don't know what I expected, but this was not it.  I put my hand on his shoulder and just stood there for a moment, thinking of my own daughters and quietly grieving with this father who had just lost so much.

He went on, “I'm trying to stay strong, my other children need me, but I don't know if I can.”

I managed to say, “I can't imagine, I've got 5 kids of my own and couldn't imagine life without them.  I'm so sorry for your loss, I wish there was something I could do or say to help.”

He nodded, pulled himself together, and said, “Thanks, I appreciate it.”

That was the last time I saw him, pulling himself together, wiping his eyes, taking a deep breath, squaring his shoulders, and heading back toward his family.

There's a saying that goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”  How true is that?

Always remember the most important things in life are not things.  Give your loved ones an extra hug today, share this article with someone special to you, smile and do something to cheer up a stranger, and give people a little grace.  You never know what they might be going through.

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Don Smith

Don Smith is the founder of The Personal Growth Channel, LLC., and a certified life coach who helps people get results while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Happily married with five children, he lives in Springfield, Illinois. If you would like to work with Don, please click here to visit his coaching page.