I pulled into the parking lot of the 7-11 and that is when I first saw them, a woman leaned over on her cell phone, crying, “Please just tell Dad that he was right, he has been, Mom we just have to come home.” She broke into tears and I could see two kids about five and seven.
Inside I bought three bottles of water and two apple juices, and asked for a blank sheet of paper. Outside I saw the little family had not left. I walked over and offered her the water and juice.
“Hi, uh I’m sorry to bother you, and I know it isn’t my business but I overheard and sounds like you might need, well at least this.”
She looked at me and smiled slightly, “uh thanks, I guess I,” she started to cry again. I stood there in silence as her little boy hugged her.
“Thank you, we are having a hard time, I left my husband after he beat me and then,” She trailed off again. “Anyway I’m heading to Illinois because we have nowhere else, but I haven’t enough money, and.”
“Here, I don’t have much myself,” I said. “But these are the numbers to Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, and I saw the bruising so I included the number for the Advocate Safehouse. This is none of my business but I want to help.”
“Thank, thank you, I hope they can help us get home.”
I looked at her and the children and asked her to wait just another minute as I went to the Burger King and got them six hamburgers and fries.
I handed the bag to her, and her boys hugged me.
“It isn’t much,” I said. “I hope you’ll make it home, God Bless.”
She smiled, “I don’t even know your name,”
I smiled again, “be safe,” and I got in my car and drove away.
The truth is I had been feeling a little ugly and working on a little pity party before I overheard her. All the little selfish things that kind of accumulate, a cold, a pain in the ass job, a migraine and money stress. But none of those things compare to having to run for your life, being homeless a thousand miles from your safe place.
I have no idea what happened next to that little family, I never will, but life is pretty much like that, we never read the ending for 99 percent of the stories; we’re usually just walk on parts in other lives.