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Now looking back at the last 40 long and sorrow filled years of my life, it is truly a miracle that I have not only survived, but have also managed not to let them define me as many tend to do. That I somehow managed to struggle through them all alone and had used all of my pain and sorrow as a strength instead of a weakness…
I have lived with depression for my entire life and still struggle with it daily. Even as a child I could sense that I wasn’t like the others around my age, but did not understand why… Not until I was around 9 when I was caught stealing food for my 2 little sisters and me at a local grocery store because we were starving… As I sat in the tiny office while the manager decided my fate, he noticed that when I had been told the police would be called I did not have the typical type of reaction that would be expected, yet when told that my mother would be called I started to panic and had begged him just to call the police but please not my mother.
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He sat down beside me and with a silent understanding and kind eyes asked if he could pray for me… Pray? I had never heard of it let alone what that even meant, but said ok. As he closed his eyes and bowed his head, I remember watching him, and as he began, I listened. I remember for the first time in my life a calmness began to overcome me, replacing my fear, my sorrow and all of my pain. An overwhelming peace came over me, and I began to cry uncontrollably allowing all of it to flow out of me in waves of relief.
I was never one to cry very much due to not wanting to upset my two little sisters who always were watching for me to show them the way… I was not only their big sister but was also their mother figure, so I always had to appear to be strong. Here I was crying like a baby and not caring one bit! It actually felt good to cry, and I wasn’t even embarrassed because of it! It was about 10 minutes before I heard the man finish with an amen and he once again opened his eyes and stared at me for a moment. He then asked me to wait a moment and left me in the office for what seemed like an eternity.
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When he came back, he had a paper sack full of groceries with him. He began to tell me that I could not come back to his store without an adult and gave me the sack of food. Then walked me back to the front and made me promise to go straight home. I started to walk away but had to stop and return to the man… I asked him why he had not called anyone, prayed for me and even gave me the food even though I had not deserved or paid for it all.
The man simply just looked down at me and smiled. Then said, because a long time ago, when I was your age, I was just like you… never getting very many random acts of kindness or love. Just promise that you will always try to be good to others even when it never seems that they are to you because things are very rarely what they seem and people are much more than they care to show. You, my dear, showed who you were without even knowing it. You were here not for selfish reasons, but for survival and the love for your sisters. A selfless act… don’t ever change that.
He winked at me then patted my head and walked back into the store. I stared at the storefront for a long moment, and then for the first time that day had realized that I was starving and my sisters must be too! I ran all the way back home, and as we three had our own little carpet picnic in my room, I told them what had happened and they both were happy to hear that not everyone in the world is sad, mad, angry, or mean like our mother, that people can be kind, forgiving, and show love to a total stranger – depressed child, and changed her life forever…