What can I do to make a difference to the world?
Cure cancer? Unlikely. Very unlikely.
Broker world peace? I wish.
Make the offside rule comprehensible to all? Now that's plain daft!
How about just being there when just one person needs help? Could be.
I was working away in the satellite office today – that would be my favourite cafe which does a mean breakfast pannini, excellent coffee, superb banter with the other regulars – kind of like a sober Cheers – and has free wifi – when a customer came in and sat nearby. The cafe was quiet and there were just the two of us. She was clearly very flustered. As she called out her order, she burst into tears.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I'm very upset, my dad has just died. I've been driving around all night, just driving. I used a whole tank of petrol. Driving, stopping, thinking, crying."
I cried too.
She'd not eaten for two days, wasn't particularly local, just saw the cafe and decided it was time to eat. And maybe think about sleeping.
She told me her story. Very sad. Her dad had died abroad where he lived with his new family. He'd been poorly, wasn't young, but that doesn't make it any less of a bereavement. She'd arrived with her brothers to find the cremation had already taken place. A clash of cultures, different approaches to grief, it had all added to the deep sadness.
They wanted to bring his ashes back home, as he had asked, but another clash of cultures at the airport caught them off guard. The grieving daughter couldn't bear for those ashes to be subjected to the indignity of a security scan. It was disprespectful, she said.It was the grief speaking, and, thanks to kind words from the airport staff, a scan was done.
Now she was back home. Not sleeping, not eating.Until now. A toasted teacake and coffee. A call from her own mum and acceptance that she needed rest – and to grieve.
I listened. Added my own experiences, grief does bring people together. It's only when you've been through it that you can really say 'I know how you feel'
She got up to go.
"Thanks for listening," she said. And she meant it.
I'll probably never see her again, but was glad I was there to listen, help someone who needs it in a small way. That's the difference I can make.
It came a day after I'd spent some time with my own dad. He's 80 in October and insisted on bringing his pick axe, lump hammer and improvised crowbar to start work removing an old tree stump from the front yard. Good grief, I told him, rest, why don't you?
"Aw, but I want to help you," he said.
"Next time, dad.Now let's go to the pub….."
He didn't say no to that!
Today's lovely thing
Making a difference