Rick at Aintsobad relayed a story. Pay attention to the end of the story and the phrase, “Sometimes I remember to be like Him.”
Here is the story – grab a kleenex.
The first time I saw Larabeth she sat straddle the rail of the overpass bridge. In truth I feared she planned to jump.
I pulled over as best I could on the bridge and started to get out of the car. She swung one painfully thin leg over the bridge rail and came limping toward me.
“Did you stop for me?” she asked. When I said yes, she slowly opened the door to the passenger side and fell into the seat.
She had that smell of the road on her; equal parts sweat and despair. The temperature outside had passed ninety in mid-morning while she stood on the concrete surface of the road.
Larabeth was probably a lovely woman once. Now, time, obvious drug addiction and injuries had exacted their price. Barely forty, she looked not old but used and used hard.
Larabeth told one of those road stories. A man she met with a friend left her by the side of the road in the middle of the night. The police picked her up after dawn, ran her identity, found no warrants and gave her a ride just past their jurisdiction. Larabeth, alone, crippled, weighing barely ninety pounds, was unlikely to backtrack to their town.
She told me about her son in college somewhere, she thought. She proclaimed me an answer to her prayer.
“You must be a Christian,” she said.
When I answered yes, she told me of her prayers for world peace.
“How can people hurt each other?” she wondered. “There is just so much pain in this world.”
At that moment I felt like most of the pain in the world rode in the passenger seat of my old car. Someone held her once, like I hold my grandchildren, and bounced her on their knee. Somewhere she went to school once upon a time and dreamed of being the homecoming queen or the president of the senior class.
We stopped to get her food to go at a roadside eatery. I gave her the money as we went in so the people behind the counter would not take immediate offence at her sight and smell. She asked me if she could keep the three dollars change. I supposed it would go for a bottle of cheap something or a pill she does not need but could not say no.
We drove past my exit on the freeway, where I turn to go to my safe, comfortable office. She directed me to the County Health Office where she said she needed to see her doctor. I pulled up to the front door.
“You have been a life saver,” Larabeth said. “I wish we could do something after my doctor sees me but you’re married.”
The sadness got deeper then. The poor woman thought I had picked her up for sex instead of just fear she was going to die by the roadside.
“Larabeth,” I said the only thing I could think to say, “once or twice in a lifetime we need to meet someone who does something for us without wanting anything back for it. God did that for me. Sometimes I remember to act like Him.”
She closed the door. Her painful limp toward the building made my heart hurt all over again.
I hope, dear God, that she was an angel I met unawares. No one should have to hurt like Larabeth.