Behind the Sunglasses

As you can see, I did not post anything Tuesday. My reason this time is that my computer cord died on me, so I have no computer until I can get a new cord. I'm currently borrowing someone else's computer, and don't have access to any of the posts-in-process that are saved on my own computer. Again, my apologies...these are all valid minor catastrophes that are truly keeping me from posting regularly, I assure you! In any case, today's post is a bit unconventional--just something that has been on my heart lately.

My community has an "Old Settler's Day" parade every year. My family lives close enough that we can easily walk to it. This year's parade was a few Saturdays ago. It was a very warm, sunny day, and my familiy and I got to sit on an unshaded hot corner of the street. I didn't really mind though, because I love parades--even though I've outgrown begging for candy from every group that comes by.

But this post isn't about the parade.

I was happily trying out my new sunglasses that day. I wear normal eye-sight glasses, so I've never been able to wear sunglasses. However, I recently bought these neat clip-on sunglasses-lenses that go right over my eye-sight glasses lenses (there's a tongue-twister for you).

But this post isn't about the sun-lenses.

Everybody else got tired of the parade before I did, so we started home early, and soon we were walking by houses. Some ways ahead of us was a group of teenage girls hanging out on the sidewalk. I don't remember the exact number, but there were at least three, and however many there were, I have it in my head that they were all, except one, wearing black. (I don't know why I remember it like that, thinking back, it seems strange, but that's what's in my memory.)

Being the anti-social person I sometimes am, I was glad I could "hide" behind my new sun-lenses (and my mom) to escape this awkward pass-the-somewhat-emo-looking-girls-on-the-sidewalk moment. As we got closer, I saw that there were some bags, or baskets, full of stuff on the sidewalk with the girls. Maybe there was a trashcan too. I didn't get a good look at the things, because I didn't want to stare (though I'm not sure why I was worried, because I don't think they would have been able to tell I was staring), and what happened right after I got close enough to see them would probably have completely knocked the memory out of me anyway. (Or maybe it did, and that's why I can't remember.)

As we drew closer, the girls stood up (they had been leaning against a little wall that ran alongside the sidewalk) and courteously moved the bags of stuff from the sidewalk over to the side so we could pass. I pretty much looked straight ahead as we went through the little group, but then, to the left, one of the girls caught my eye. She was the one that I remember not being dressed in black. I don't know what she was wearing, but I don't think it was black. I was almost past her when she caught my gaze and our eyes, despite mine being covered by shades, met. And it was, as cliche as this sounds, as if time froze for an instant, and that that image of her was branded onto my mind. It shocked me, because I completely was not expecting it, and the feeling I got as soon as I saw her was that she was out of place--this was wrong, she didn't fit in with the other girls...they looked too casual. They were just teens having fun on the weekend, hanging out on the sidewalk, right? RIGHT?

She was crying.

And I can remember her face as if I had seen her two minutes ago instead of two weeks.

She was a bit shorter than me, probably about the same age, thin, with long light brown hair down past her shoulders. Her face was a bit freckled, red and blotchy, the sun reflected off of the tears on her face and she looked agonized. I also remember that she held a cell-phone in her right hand--not talking into it, just holding it--one of those flip-open phones, and it was closed, as if she had just made a call, or was just about to make one.

I automatically flicked my eyes away for an instant, with the oops-sorry-I-didn't-mean-to-interrupt-your-private-cry-excuse-me-I'll-leave-now-and-pretend-I-didn't-see, and then the next instant I looked back. Because I didn't just want to leave it at that. Crying on a public sidewalk on a community holiday isn't a conventional activity. Something was wrong. But I couldn't do anything, could I? What would she and her friends think if I just stopped and said--what, exactly? What's wrong, honey? Do you need help? Do you need a place to stay?

Deducing from the aforementioned odd packages on the sidewalk, maybe she had just left home. Or maybe not. Maybe her pet had died. Or she'd broken up with her boyfriend. Or she'd just had an argument with her best friend. Or a rough week at school. Who knows? I sure didn't. I still don't. Would it have helped anything if I'd stopped?

All of this is running through my head in a split second. I'm still walking. I haven't hesitated. She's directly beside me when I look back...and I smile. I couldn't say anything with my eyes because they were covered up. I was thinking, very clearly, and very determinedly. I didn't think I could stop, or if I did stop, if I'd be able to help. But I wanted to communicate to her with that glance. I was literally thinking as I smiled, "She needs to know I care...I'm sorry...I'll be praying..." I wanted her to know that. Maybe spiritually, if need be. But how much can you communicate that in the half-second it takes to pass someone on the sidewalk?

And I have been praying. Every day. I can not get this girl out of my head. Should I have stopped? Maybe. I still don't know what I would have (or should have) done and said. Maybe she didn't get my "message". Maybe she was thinking "Why the heck is she smiling at me, can't she see I'm devastated? Jerk." I don't know. But I'm praying. I'd appreciate it if you'd pray too.

I wish I hadn't worn those sunglasses.

Image found via Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.

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