Be Kind to Yourself, D.K.

Yesterday was a cold, rainy and overall wintery day in Kansas City. So, to boost my self-diagnosed seasonal mood disorder, I went to a restorative yoga class. (Maybe I don’t really suffer from seasonal mood disorder, but the chronic grayness of the tail end of winter in our town has tried everyone I talk with … and we all feel moody!)

Be Kind to Yourself

Helen Emmott emojiDuring class, the teacher talked about “gratitude” and asked everyone in the class to be grateful for their body and what it was doing for them. She even encouraged us to be kind to ourselves on the upcoming Valentine’s Day, to practice self-love, as well as, love for others. I liked what she said. It was a good message, one to share. I thought about it as I walked to the grocery store from the yoga studio. I hummed a song as I bought fruits and vegetables for my new juicer. I would love myself today with some organic things and have a great day full of gratitude. I was on a positive roll!

Later, as I delivered copies of my new children’s book to recent purchasers, even though the grayness and freezing rain still came down, I continued to feel the peace I had snagged in class. I’m not sure if you ever do this, but I’ve been known to walk out of church, full of love and positivity, and immediately yell or honk at a bad driver…So, I’m confessing, I can let go of peace and gratitude quickly at times.

Anyway, I pulled over in the icy, slush to enter an address onto my iPhone map app. I was startled when someone tapped on my window. A young African American woman, water dripping off her crooked glasses, asked me if I knew where she was. I told her she was near Ward Parkway, walking west. She needed to get out south.

“Do you have a phone so you can call someone?” I asked her.

“It’s dead,” she said.

She had no rain gear and only a light jacket and tennis shoes on. She carried a bright pink and gold, children’s backpack that was labelled, “Glam.” It was, however, not a glamorous situation.

I went on to tell her she needed to continue to walk to Ward Parkway, turn left then walk until she found a bus stop. While I didn’t know exactly where one was, I was sure there were stops on that street.

As she turned and left, I went back to my book deliveries, turning on my Google Map and routing to my next stop. But she didn’t leave my mind. Had she cried a few tears when I sent her on? Was she dangerous? On drugs? What was her story? I knew in my heart that she was lost and cold. I came up with all kinds of reasons why I was right in not giving her a ride.

Be Kind to Others

But, after the last book delivery, I knew I had to retrace my path and see if she had found a bus stop. I began slowly driving down the street where I had directed her. Several blocks from where we had met, she was trudging through wet, snowy ice. She had wrapped a scarf around her head since I last saw her, but it was soaked. I pulled over, rolled down my car window and said:

“I can’t leave you out in the cold.”

“Oh, thank you,” she cried.

She told me where she was going. It wasn’t my part of town and I was a little nervous. I expressed fear and nervousness to her, saying that if I gave her a ride I had to call my daughter, tell her the woman’s name and address and have them meet on the phone. As I dialed Libby’s number, I prayed, “Please, oh, please, answer.” In the meantime, the woman told me her name. (D.K. in this short story.)  She said she was a Christian and she wouldn’t hurt nobody. She also told me her mother had been a minister before she died. Then, Libby answered the phone. I shared with her my plan. (She knew I had called because she could track my car.) She met D.K. over my Bluetooth and I felt better.

Being Kind to D.K.

As we found our way over to D.K.’s godmother’s house, she told me that her mother would be so disappointed in her and her bad decisions if she were still alive. I understood her pain. Frequently, I ask myself, even at the age of sixty-five, what my mother would think of things I say and do. I told the woman my dad was a minister, like her mom, before he died. She smiled and shared that she had children and one grandchild. I told her about my family.

We arrived at the house where she said she would find support. A few of its windows were boarded up. It didn’t look great to me. Before she got out of the car, she asked me if I would like to buy a toy phone she had in her back pack.

“For one of your grandkids?” she said.

More thoughts raced through my head: Where had she found it? It was still in the package. Was it stolen? But, I told her to keep it and give it to her grandchild. Instead, I give her the only money I had with me, a five-dollar bill.

I asked her for a hug before she exited my car. She hugged me tightly. She was soaking wet. She asked me if I would pray for her. I looked her straight in the eyes and told her I would.

“We all make mistakes. We all make bad decisions,” I said. “Be kind to yourself.” Tears ran down both of our faces.

I called my daughter as I pulled out of a neighborhood where I’d never driven.

“I’m fine,” I told Libby.
“Mom, let’s not do this anymore,” Libby said.
But, we both know, I will.
I’m grateful that I will. I like that part of me.

Comments 10

  1. Mary Bruce
    February 13, 2019

    What a beautiful story. That was a wonderful thing you did. Yes we need to be nice to ourselves and others. We are all Gods children no matter who we are. He picked everyone one of us. He made us all from start to finish. We are to love all our neighbors as God loves us. Yes we all make wrong decisions but thank God someone driving and making book deliveries save us from bad weather.

  2. Pauline OKeefe
    February 13, 2019

    Helen, you are very special. Your story so touched me and am hoping that I would do the same if put in the that position. Bless you, Pauline

    1. Helen
      February 13, 2019

      I know you would!!

  3. Thomas Graves
    February 13, 2019

    Thomas Graves your caddie for life

    I use to try to order my own steps instead of letting God lead me. Helen, auntie, mom you are a true leader to me and our family keep touching the world in your love for all people

    1. Helen
      February 13, 2019

      And you’re my teacher in so many ways!

  4. Mary Weed
    February 13, 2019

    You have a wonderful way with words, Helen! I look forward to reading more! That was such a beautiful story!

    1. Helen
      February 13, 2019

      You are the artist!!

  5. Lynn O'Leary
    February 13, 2019

    Great story Helen! I also love the messages we get in yoga at Power Life! It can add power to our life and lead us to people like DK! I will also commit to praying for her! There is power in prayer! God Bless You!

  6. Palle Rilinger
    February 13, 2019

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Helen. A special story with special meaning. Peace and love.

  7. MaryMichael Sterchi
    March 27, 2019

    Helen: You were opening your heart and listening to God. And far braver than most of us would have been. Since your heart is open, yes, you will do it again. But that’s okay. It ‘s the path God has put you on. Thank You for sharing. D.K. Going on my dailey prayer list. Xoxo Mike

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