Somewhere outside Montgomery, Alabama—a gas station. A young girl stands in line. She has long woven hair. In her hands: a soda bottle and a bag of chips.
In front of her is an older gentleman. He has weathered skin, ratty clothes, and work boots.
He tells the cashier he wants twenty-dollars worth of gas. He hands his cash over.
“This ain’t twenty,” says the cashier. “It’s only fourteen bucks.”
The girl steps forward. “Here,” she says, laying a five on the counter.
The man tells the girl he can’t accept money from a little kid.
The girl ignores him.
The cashier rings him up, the girl returns her soda and chips to the shelf. Before the girl leaves, she high fives the man.
He smiles and almost ruptures a cheek.
“God bless you,” he says.
Alpharetta, Georgia—his wife cheated on him and ended up pregnant. She left him and moved in with her lover.
Her lover turned out to be a piece of work—he ditched her. She had her baby alone.
A few hours after she gave birth, the girl called her parents. They refused her—for religious reasons. A few of her friends did the same.
So, she called her ex-husband. He answered his phone. She expected him to hang up. He didn’t.
In fact, before they finished talking, he had already piled into his car and pointed it toward the hospital.
He held her new baby, he kissed it. And years later, that kid still calls him “Daddy.”
Mobile, Alabama—her father committed suicide when she was sixteen. She had three brothers, and a mother who was mentally ill.
And a mortgage.
She got a job to support the family. She worked long hours, then came home to cook suppers. She was a child-mother.
Long after the girl’s brothers left home, she cared for her elderly mother until she died. The girl never married.
She made it to eighty. They buried her last month. Her brothers cried long and hard.
“God bless my sister,” one brother said. “She was too good for this world.”
Spartanburg, South Carolina—an old woman walked her dog every day.
She fell while out strolling. Don—a recently divorced forty-six-year-old— saw her hit the pavement.
He ran to her, picked her up, and carried to her home. He laid her in bed.
And he threw his back out.
His physician said he herniated two discs. One outpatient surgery and a small fortune later, they sent Don home.
The day he returned from the hospital, there was a knock at his door.
The old woman came with gifts. A casserole, a cake, and a God-bless-you card.
“She took care of me,” said Don. “I ate like a king for two weeks. She even stopped by to change my bandages.”
Since then, the two have become good friends.
I’ll cut to the chase.
I don’t know who you are or what you’re going through today. But I know life is hard. Damn hard. I know that it breaks you, then mails you a bill.
If you’re reading this, I want you to know that you’re on my mind tonight.
God bless you.