A quiet display of friendship in the parking lot at Jewel

Chicago Tribune photo.

Chicago Tribune photo.

While pushing a cart full of groceries back to my car after shopping, I passed two women in the parking lot.

Middle-aged, they were heading quite slowly into the store.

One was struggling to walk and tightly grasped the left arm of her friend for support.

Not wearing a “boot” or a cast, I assumed she was recovering from surgery.

You know that post-surgery slow walk, when it hurts to move too quickly, bend or twist.

She looked downward with a pained expression on her face, but was determined to make progress.

Her friend quietly asked, “Are you doing alright, take it easy now?”

I smiled at their connection and this subtle act of kindness.

My mind created this scenario where the woman was recovering from abdominal surgery and unable to drive for at least six weeks. Perhaps neighbors or family members had brought her chicken and rice casseroles and homemade soup. Sent her get well cards or brought her a bouquet of flowers.

But now she feels trapped at home and wants to get out among the living and experience the ordinary routines of everyday life. She misses being a thriving member of humanity.

Her intuitive friend sees this.

I imagine her friend saying, “It will be a struggle, but let’s get you out of the house today. You need fresh air and some walking would do you good. Plus you are out of dog food and haven’t left the house since your doctor’s appointment a month ago.”

No one gets out of this life without hardship, pain, grief and suffering. Some endure more than others. Some squeak by with minor twists in the road. Many never seem to catch a break.

We tend to not want to burden others with our problems, but sometimes you just need to accept an offer of help.

It’s okay to lean on others when life throws you those curveballs.

When you’re down and troubled

and you need a helping hand

and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.

Close you eyes and think of me

and soon I will be there

to brighten up even your darkest nights.

Carole King

And your friends really do want to help you. Whether it’s bringing you a casserole, shoveling snow off your sidewalk, driving your carpool or simply taking you to the grocery store.

I believe if you’ve experienced heartbreak, had a serious health issue, lost your father at a young age, went through a bitter divorce or were terminated at work, you become a more compassionate person. When you survive anything devastating like that, no matter how painful, you become more empathetic and a kinder human being. You are a survivor. You endured. You made it through. You are stronger than you think you are.

So when bad things happen to someone else you remember how you felt. You know how to step up and toss that life preserver into the rough and stormy seas. Without them having to ask.

Don’t make your friends ask for help.

If this happened to you, what would you appreciate?

What would be a kind gesture?

What can I do to lighten their load?

Yep, she’s out of dog food. Let’s go to Jewel.

And then do it.

It would have been easier for this woman to just take the grocery list and perform the task for her friend. But by driving her to Jewel, holding her steady walking into the store, shopping and then returning her home to put items away, took patience, empathy and most of all her time.


That’s what friends do.


This woman was a supportive and caring friend that day.

It’s great to have friends on those roaring, good days. But it’s crucial to have them on those dark, tough days.

Especially those dark, tough days.

We all need to have someone to lean on when we struggle.

And a sturdy left arm to hold onto, in the parking lot at Jewel, can make all the difference.



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Filed under: Lifestyle, Observations

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