This year has been difficult. After a second flood in six months that wreaked havoc on our home, after the loss of a tooth, and after the loss of a beloved relationship, I found myself depressed for the first time in a very long time. I stayed in bed until noon day after day for several weeks, and when I did get out of bed, it was with great effort that I got ready and painted on my smile. Many days, I was unable to feel joy – even when I did all the things that I have taught others to do to help depression. I wrote my gratitude list every day, I went in the mountains to walk, I served as a missionary for my church, I spent time with my family, I wrote affirmations, I meditated, I prayed – and I retreated.
I explained to a few close friends that I was not writing or really doing anything with my already published book, Hope after Suicide, because I needed to take time for me. I noticed that I had new people viewing both my book and author Facebook pages nearly every single day, but I couldn’t bring myself to post or focus on helping others through their own losses or depression because I was still trying to get out of bed.
The past month, though, I have gotten out of bed every single day and done more than I thought possible. Our home has been in the final stages of reconstruction and my husband and I have been “homeless” and living out of a tiny suitcase. The first two weeks, we were living in a small hotel room a mile from our home so we could monitor the progress. We then decided that if we had to be away anyway, we would hit the road while we waited for the final touches on our home to be completed.
Our travels have taken us to many beautiful places, but the most beautiful experience happened today in a laundromat in Canada. I was again reminded that God does indeed have a hand in our lives. And that if we will listen, He will allow us to bless others at the same time He blesses us.
After breaking down camp and loading up our dirty car with a tent, stove, sleeping bags, and a suitcase full of smelly clothes, my husband and I walked into a tiny but clean laundromat at the end of our very full day. We were greeted by a cheerful woman who managed the store. She showed us how to use the washing machines, encouraged us to separate the light from the dark clothes, and kept us company while we waited. She didn’t shy from sharing her belief in God. I was impressed with her courage.
Once our laundry was folded, my husband and I said our goodbyes to our new friend and retreated to our still dirty car. A familiar feeling entered my heart. “I need to give her a copy of my book,” I said to my husband. I retrieved one of the copies that had been sitting in our car for the past several months and went back inside the laundromat.
“I feel like I need to give you a copy of my book,” I told my new friend as I handed her an autographed copy.
“You wrote this book?” she asked, surprised by the title, Hope after Suicide.
“Yes, it’s the story of my healing journey following the suicide death of my mom when I was twelve years old,” I repeated the line I had shared countless times in the months following the book’s release. “If you know anyone who can benefit from the book, you can share it with them.”
“Me. I will read it,” she answered. And then she shared with me that she had been depressed multiple times and had contemplated taking her own life before.
“There are no coincidences,” I said as I gave her a big hug. I knew I was meant to be there in that laundromat at that moment. And that I was meant to give her a copy of my book.
Another woman caught me just as I was getting back into my car. “Can I get one of those books, too?” she asked. “Of course,” I said. This woman who had just entered the laundromat as we were leaving shared with me that she had also struggled with suicidal thoughts. I shared my story briefly and we both hugged.
“God bless you,” the woman said as we said goodbye.
What she didn’t know is that God had indeed blessed me. He blessed me to meet two wonderful women. And He spoke to my heart.
And today, I listened.
God knows me. And He knows you. And He knows two women in a laundromat. God can put two people together whose paths have never crossed before and He can work miracles. My prayer is that we can reach out to each other and that we can listen. That we can lift one another. That we can love.