As we were walking towards our second chance flight, I remembered my father asking me before our previous attempt if I had gotten a souvenir for my husband. I had blown it off then but now, walking by the shops, I thought I better not jinx us again.
I let Amelia pick out his gift as I struggled with two carry-ons and a carseat. She picked a scorpion encased in a dome of glass which glowed in the dark and said in a small font "New Mexico". She was excited and after she handed it to me she went to examine something else when she accidently knocked over what I think was a clay shot glass or something similar. She was pretty shocked and I sighed, wondering how much that thing must cost. I told Amelia she needed to be careful but as I crouched down to pick up the pieces I told her that it was an accident and accidents happen. I gave her a little hug and somehow managed to carry our "items" to the register while making sure there were no more accidents and somehow got the car seat to move with me (That thing was as dangerous as a toddler in the small shop).
When I went to pay the lady running the shop assured me I didn't have to pay for the broken item. I tried insisting but she said she knew it was a genuine accident and that it was normally adults breaking stuff anyway. As if on cue, I heard a shattering sound as a blushing man who must have been in his forties glanced around as if to see if anyone noticed.
I paid for our scorpion and we were on our way out of the shop when an older woman grabbed my arm. I remembered her because she was checking out with her husband when the accident happened. Her total had been somewhere in the area of $100 (Yes, I'm nosy). We were just outside the store and she pressed a folded twenty dollar bill into my hand.
"For the broken thing," she said.
"Oh, you don't have to," I said, "they didn't make me pay for it".
"I know, I saw. Just take it."
I tried to insist that I didn't need the twenty dollars when she took a deep breath and looked me straight in the eyes.
"Listen, I know what it's like to worry about making ends meet." She said, "I don't have to anymore so let me do something nice for you."
"Ok, thank you." I said, giving in.
"Buy a treat for you two!" She said, smiling at Amelia.
I thanked her again and we walked away.
Did I look like someone down on my luck? Maybe a single mother? Don't get me wrong, my husband is the only one bringing home a paycheck. A $20 bill still looks like a lot to me. But I didn't feel like I deserved to be the recipient of her charity, her gift, though apparently she saw something in me. I found myself eyeing everyone in the airport, looking for someone who obviously needed the gift. I didn't find anyone inside the airport where we've all been groomed by TSA. Here no one sits against a wall with a cardboard sign asking for food, help, money, or work. I kept that $20 bill separate from my other cash. It never felt like mine. I was merely a vessel to get the money where it truly belonged, where it could really help. To someone or somewhere that wouldn't look at it and think, "meh".
I spent the better part of a week after I arrived home wondering what to do with it. As luck would have it I didn't run across anyone with a sign. No family that looked in need. Then I started thinking about charities. There are so many. Thousands of worthy causes. But what touched my heart? The woman who gave me the money clearly saw some sort of reflection of herself in me. Perhaps an older version of herself, in need of help. Where did I see my reflection?
What organization have I been drawn to since I found it on Facebook? Which is one of the only in my city that that strives to help people like me? Where only $20 in supplies can still make a difference?
I Still Matter.
"I Still Matter is a community mental health organization that enhances well-being and fights stigma by placing healing art groups for women and adolescents".
I can definitely see my reflection in this group. I wish it had been around when I was younger. So I decided to use the $20 bill (and some of my own funds) to donate some needed supplies to I Still Matter.
So, my challenge to you is for you to look inside and all around and find an organization, project, person, or charity that you feel somehow reflect who you are, were, or will be. Donate $20 or more or less. Whatever you can. Every penny is a pebble in the pond. Make ripples, make waves! I dare you! Then send me your story and I'll feature it on the blog.