I played basketball one year in high school. For some reason we practiced in the morning before school, and one morning I was late by about 20 minutes.
The details are shaky, but somewhere in the middle of gathering two groggy toddlers and getting everything ready to shuttle me to practice, my mom or I found our rabbit outside shaking uncontrollably. Thunder was laying on the little cement path from the house to the garage, his body convulsing and his heart racing.
We sat there with him until his shaking stopped and he was dead. Then I went to practice.
I ran in and joined the line for lay-up drills. It took a few minutes for the coach to realize I was there, but when he did, he laid into me. After what felt like a thrashing, he stopped to ask me why I was late.
My composure, completely intact until that point, crackled like cheap paint. Tears leaked and I wanted to disappear. I squeaked out “My rabbit died,” and proceeded to cry like a teenage girl. Which, in my defense, I was.
That poor coach.
He had every right to hold me accountable for being late, but I suspect, had he known the reason first, I would have gotten less of a thrashing and more of an “I’m sorry you had a rough morning, glad you showed up anyway.”
So I say this to myself sometimes. I say this when I’m steaming, when I’m offended, when I’m triggered. “Their bunny might have died.”
Or something worse. Or a string of things. Or a lifetime of things. They might need an “I’m sorry you had a rough morning,” or “rough day,” or “rough year.” They might need a nod, human to human, an indication someone understands, someone sees them. They might need someone to be glad they showed up and they’re walking and talking and breathing and functioning, even if it’s just barely.
I’m glad you showed up, human people who hate my driving, and honestly, I don’t blame you.
I’m glad you showed up, guy who is rude to the teenager taking your fast food order. I’m glad you showed up and I’m glad you’re eating and I hope it gets better.
I’m glad you showed up, lady who bossed my kid in the store. I’m not thrilled we ran into you, but I’m glad you showed up for the day.
And I’m glad you showed up, person reading this. I’m sorry it’s been rough and I hope it gets better, but for now, keep showing up.