So as we all know, I’ve had a tough week. A tough couple of weeks. But it’s getting better, and one of the reasons why is that I notice when I get the call to be someone’s angel for a time, and I just love those times. I heard a d’var torah once (which is, when someone (anyone, doesn’t have to be a rabbi) gets up and gives their take on a bit of Torah to the group) that had a beautiful message about angels, that there are times when God is imbued in each of us, and we help someone else and become their angel for that moment. Did you ever have the urge to just say something that ended up being exactly what the other person needed to hear? That’s when you’re someone’s angel.
So I walked out of my apartment this morning, for the second time. The first time was when I left nearly two hours earlier to go take my kids to school and then have a little breakfast at the local bagel shop. And then I went home again, to take a much-needed break from the world. I even considered calling in sick (mental health days are important, too!) but the fact is I just had too much work that had to be done today. So I did my meditation and tantric practice, left my apartment feeling much better and able to tackle the day, and walked down the stairs to the garage…at exactly the right time to see my neighbor in the laundry room.
My neighbor is an elderly woman, with no children, no family that I’ve ever seen come visit. She has friends who live in our building that come over and eat dinner with her on some nights. She has cats, and fosters kittens until they find homes. She’s very nice to my girls and invites them over to see the kittens, but she’s…well, she’s a bit…odd. I would, in my educated lay opinion, probably pin her as highly functioning autistic, or somewhere on the scale. She has difficulty relating to people in a natural way, and my landlords had warned me when we moved in that she was difficult to deal with and might not react well to young children. I just always treated her with a high level of respect (and made sure my kids did, too), and we all get along just fine.
So I said hello to her and she said hello back, and as I was heading to the garage she called after me, “My mother just died. That’s why I’m home today.”
Stopped me in my tracks. What a courageous statement to make. I can’t imagine a more clear sign telling me to help this woman. To listen to her and comfort her. So I immediately went over and gave her a hug, which as I did, I wondered, is this the right thing to do? It was, and she told me that her 86-year-old mother had just died suddenly from pneumonia. And told me about her siblings, which I had never heard about or seen even though they live locally, and how they were dealing with their loss . And I suggested to her that some kind of service might be very healing, and that adding a daily prayer specifically for her mother for this upcoming year (which is what we do with our Mourner’s Kaddish) might help her deal with this time of transition, as her universe has shifted and it’s important to mark the beginning of a new stage. She thanked me for my words and my perspective, and they seemed to help her be better equipped to deal with this…I hope they were. I hope I did some good.
And then I left to go to work, and thanked God for giving me the opportunity to be there for her. It’s not a coincidence that I was walking down the stairs at that moment, when she needed me. And I’m grateful that I’ve learned to recognize those moments, and get to be an angel for a time.