I’d been handing out “988” cards in the candle booth like Halloween candy, for weeks, and here I was in need of one and empty-handed.
I was the only one there when I entered the store- it was early. I was just coming back from my dentist appointment and decided to stop by the thrift store and see if any treasures were waiting for me. When I walked in, the man that was working gave me a quick hello and something about yellow tags as he walked away. I imagined he said they were fifty percent off- or something to that effect. I thanked him and went to the back of the store- where the books and the coffee mugs live. Two of my favorite things to peruse.
I immediately picked up a mug that spoke to me. It was the very quote someone had sent to me months ago. “That is meant for me,” I thought. As I was holding the mug and looking at the other items on display I heard the man that had greeted me talking on the phone as he walked the perimeter of the store. He was asking someone if they could come in and help him. He indicated that only one other person was working, and he was in need of help. I could tell he was frustrated when he hung up the phone, but I was the only one in the store, so I didn’t know what could be causing him to “need help.” I thought they must have a lot to do in the back of the store because it was quiet in the front. When he opened the door to the back room, I could see an elderly lady sorting through a bin of items but not in any rushed manner.
As he hung up the phone, a couple of other people walked in. He didn’t give them the same greeting he gave me, but he said something. They also thanked him, and he made another call. He was more frantic this time, and he was pacing the floor at a much faster pace. “When will you get back?” he asked the person on the other end of the call. He told her he had called two different people, but no one could come and help. He said, “I’m getting ready to have a panic attack. I can feel it happening” and he hung up again.
When I first got to the store, I kept hearing a noise. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from; maybe the back of the store? But it didn’t sound like it. This time when he walked past me again, it was louder, and I noticed a pair of headphones around his neck and realized that was where the sound was coming from. It sounded like a fan. I understood then that this must be white noise to help him cancel out the sounds around him.
The two people in the front of the store were having a good time, laughing and talking. They were not being obnoxious-far from it, but I could tell it was overstimulating to him. I was only pretending to shop at this point, trying to decide what I could do, if anything, to help. I recognized this behavior. Joe exhibited the same signs- pacing back and forth, rubbing his head and hands incessantly, and seeming rushed when there was nothing going on that “should” have been causing him to feel that way. I knew I wouldn’t leave the store until someone got there to help this man.
Then another girl walked in, which he seemed to know. I was relieved! “How are you?” She asked. “Not good.” He replied. “Oh yeah, what’s up?” She casually asked. And he said, “I can’t talk to you right now. I’m sorry” And then he again headed back toward where I was standing, with more speed in his steps. When he reached me, he was shaking. I could see his face was flushed. I didn’t know what to do at this point. I didn’t want to cause him more “panic” or “stress,” but I knew I would have to find some courage and say something. Standing idly by was not an option when something so obvious was happening. He needed some help-I had just heard him say it on the phone!
So I stopped thinking about it and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help you right now?” He looked taken aback for a second, shook his head- quickly, no, and said, “My manager is on her way.” He started to walk away, and I said, “If you need to talk to someone right away, you can call 988. A trained person is waiting to talk to anyone in distress.” He shook his head, indicating he heard me. “988,” I repeated. “OK?” And he repeated the number back to me, “988.” And said, “OK.”
And then his manager walked in. He immediately apologized to her and said, “I’ll be back.” And he left the store.
This whole situation was not more than ten minutes long; I don’t think. I don’t know where she was or how she got there so quickly, but it took her a mere five minutes to arrive. I was so grateful for that.
It was not easy to approach this man in his moment of stress, or as he put it, panic. But I feel blessed to have had an opportunity to give someone in need that 988 number. I don’t know if he ended up calling-I hope he did, but more than anything, I hope he felt heard and seen. I hope he knew that he was not alone, that I cared about what was happening, as well as the girl that walked in who knew him and his manager that came to relieve him so quickly.
It felt good to find my courage, swallow my fear, and give him that number. I’m glad I did!
And I swear… you can’t make this stuff up… as I stood there questioning my decision, “Did I do the right thing? Should I have said anything?” The manager walked to the front of the store and turned on the radio, and I immediately got my answer. Blaring over the speakers, and I mean BLARING… “Oh Marie, I love you, girl, Maria, I love you.” It was smack in the middle of Brooke’s and Dunn’s song, Maria. Joe ALWAYS called me Maria! I KNEW with my whole heart that that WAS my answer, and that WAS a GOD moment. (thank you!)
But that’s not all… as I walked away from the bookshelf, finding nothing that stood out, I was probably twenty feet or more away, making my way to the front to pay for the mug when I heard a stack of books fall to the floor. When I went back to pick them up (again…you cannot make this stuff up!) Do you know what book was on the top of that pile? A book titled “When Women Pray- Ten women of the bible who changed the world through prayer” by the Reverend TD Jakes. I almost cried. I, of course, said a THANK YOU with a smile on my heart and face! (A prayer, indeed!) And yes, I bought the book, too!
And in case you’re wondering, the coffee mug said,
“Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created.”
And these ARE THE GIFTS! I find them everywhere when I’m paying attention.
I know I’m not the only one that has experienced gifts like this… have you, too?
P.s. Before the music started playing and as I was questioning if I had done the right thing, I was also beating myself up for not having one of the 988 cards with me. I’ve been giving EVERYONE that walks into the candle booth one (or several) of those cards and asking them to share them. And here I was, empty-handed. I was disappointed in myself. And then I remembered, when we know better, we do better. That’s all any of us can do. So I stopped beating myself up and promised I would do better. And I have.
After it was all said and done, I had my answer from God anyway, in a Joe sort of way. Yes, I did the right thing. GOD (AND JOE) SAID SO!
To your healing and to mine.
xo, and peace.
If anything I’ve said feels right (or wrong)… share some ❤️ ⬇️ and leave a comment (and thank you!)
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I just want the pain to stop… (video)
Suicide is not a selfish act. It’s a desperate act.
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