I nearly died at Walmart yesterday.
The “bad cold” I’ve been fighting for the past couple of weeks turned into a “bad cough” over the weekend, and since then it’s been a struggle to get much of anything done without causing a coughing fit.
I was feeling better yesterday so I decided to attempt grocery shopping after dropping Topher off at school.
It started out fine – we were actually almost done, with three more rows to go, when the coughing started.
I couldn’t catch my breath.
I was coughing and coughing and coughing, bent over the shopping cart, then kneeling on the ground, gasping for air.
And nobody seemed to notice.
My concerned two-year-old was patting my hand, saying “You okay, Mommy? You okay? You need cough drop, Mommy?”
I could see people out of the corner of my eye, other shoppers, reaching around me for their Kraft Dinner and their stewed tomatoes – while I struggled to breathe.
It’s not like it wasn’t obvious, either. I mean, coughing? Doubled over on the ground? Gasping for air? I even gave up trying to be polite and coughing into my elbow in favour of clutching my throat so people would know I couldn’t breathe.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (but was actually only a couple of minutes) one Walmart employee (out of three who were stocking in the row I was in) abandoned his post to see if I was okay. He offered to get me some water, and while he was gone I was finally able to stop coughing long enough to get a couple of deep breaths of air into my lungs – and it was over. I walked slowly, and sipped my water carefully, willing my lungs to behave at least until we got home.
I have no idea how many people heard me coughing and chose to walk by that row. I don’t know how many people pushed their carts past mine while I was struggling to breathe, looking away, reaching for pantry staples instead of reaching out to help.
And it’s got me thinking:
How many times do we do that?
How many times do we walk past someone obviously in need – and look the other way?
Because we’re too busy?
… Or because we’re afraid?
And if we are afraid, what are we so afraid of?
Open my eyes, Lord. Help me to see people in need. Inconvenience me. Interrupt me, if that’s what it takes. People are more important than anything else in this world – and I want to live like I believe it.