So for those of you who don’t know what WaWa is (because I’m pretty sure it’s a regional thing), it’s one of those great stores where you can buy just about anything you want to eat or drink. It’s always packed full of people and their baked potato soup is my go-to staple on a cold winter night.
And it’s the last stop my great kid always makes before he hops on the New Jersey Turnpike to begin his long trek back to college at the end of both summer vacation and winter break. He stocks the little cooler in his car with sandwiches and fruit and water and beef jerky and heads off on his cross-county journey.
There’s a wonderful woman who works there and, as people do when you’re waiting on line, she and I inevitably chat when I’m there. She knows enough about my son to know where he goes to school, when he’s coming home, how he’s doing in class. And what mother doesn’t want to share her proud stories of her child with someone who seems genuinely interested? This kind woman is just a ray of sunshine that I get to spend a few minutes with before I start my day.
Goodbyes are never easy for me. The finality of the moment is crushing for me and invariably accompanied by much weeping. I usually try to say my goodbyes to my great kid in the privacy of our little nest here so my puffy eyes and tear-streaked face aren’t on public display. But last summer we decided to head to WaWa together, he to buy his rations for the trip and me to get something for breakfast. I waited outside while he finished paying and he told the woman from WaWa that he was leaving that day and said goodbye to her.
He came out and we said our goodbyes too. He is so much braver and better at these things than I am, maybe because he’s going off on an adventure and I’m going home to get used to the experience of being on my own again. I watched him drive away and as I was getting myself together to get in the car and go to work, I looked through the window into WaWa and the lovely woman who I talked to so much about him was crying too.
She came out of the store and hugged me and told me that I should be proud of my son because she could tell by how he acted that he was good and kind and respectful and smart. And with those words and with that hug, she gave me such a gift. The gift of reminding me that, despite the obstacles my son has had to deal with through no fault of his own, he has come out the other side a good person and that I should take pride in knowing I had something to do with that. And she also reminded me that when you teach your child to have wings, you should rejoice when they fly away.
So, once again, God placed the right person in my path when I needed someone to comfort me. I will always be grateful for the kindness this angel showed me. She made my bad day just a wee bit better.