Wow! That was a wonderful little happy cry.
I promised a good “after the fire story” and I’ll start with my favorite.
People are often surprised to find this out about me but, in a crisis, I go into “go” mode. On a regular day, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit if you called me a flake. I generally live my life seeing the humor in everything and assuming that everything will turn out okay. But when it doesn’t, I turn into a force to be reckoned with. (For the record, it only lasts in the crisis. I usually have a total melt down a few hours later.)
The fire started in the in the wee small hours of the morning. My phone rang sometime between 5 and 6 am. My sister is a teacher so she’s up early and had the news on. By 6 am I was on the phone with a group of friends and my mom getting as much clothing together as we could find. Most of the people who were on the street were in their underwear or pajamas. It had snowed earlier that night so it was freezing cold and wet. The weather had been so bad that I literally got my car out of ice and snow through sheer force of will and got as much stuff out to people as we could right away.
Later in the day I had a total meltdown when I remembered that my friend’s daughter had already bought her prom dress. It broke my heart.
The next morning, I was picking up some supplies from my friend Jean to bring to the hotel where everyone was staying. I mentioned the prom dress and she immediately said “Wait! I have prom shoes!” She ran upstairs and came down with a beautiful pair of silver, high healed, strappy sandals. We didn’t know if they would fit but figured it was worth the try.
They fit the girl like they were made for her!
Later that same day, I had agreed to go to a party. I went to high school with the woman who was hosting it and was terrified of her. Through an odd series of events, she ended up inviting me. I said yes because I have no filter at all (see my note above about being a flake) but by the time I had to leave to go I was asking myself why on earth was I doing this. I hadn’t laid eyes on her since 1987.
My plan was to show up 1/2 an hour late, stay for an hour and go home. Turned out, I showed up an hour early (duh) and ended up staying all night because she grew up into a lovely, lovely woman who is now a good friend.
The fire was big news, and, because I was living in the neighborhood, everyone was asking me how to help. I mentioned the prom dress and my ex-mean girl, new-old friend said “I’ll be right back”. She sent me a home with a dress that was the last dress you would have chosen for this girl.
I brought it to the hotel the next morning and spoke to her privately and told her that she didn’t have to wear it. The dress was a kind gesture but she wasn’t obligated to wear it. She wanted to try it on. Alone.
Five minutes later, she walked out in the dress and the shoes and even the hotel housekeeper burst into tears. She was stunning.
I genuinely believe that when we let the best in ourselves–generosity, sharing, non-judgement, etc–shine through, it will always be good.