Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Friend I Never Met

I've been volunteering at KarmaCat+ZenDog rescue for about two years now.
It's a wonderful organization run by a few very dedicated women and sustained by 30+ volunteers.

Of all those volunteers, I'm one of maybe three guys.  No surprise: most of them are middle or older age women. Yes - I'm the oddball young, single guy who volunteers at a cat rescue.  That's just me.

Last November there was a volunteer meeting which I couldn't make.
Volunteer meeting = a room full of old cat ladies who aren't really saying much to each other until the wine starts flowing and the cat stories start flying around.

After that meeting, the Executive Director (who I speak to every so often) sent me an email.

She told that the woman who comes in on Wednesday afternoons publicly raved about me at the meeting. She said she holds me in the highest regards for my cleaning thoroughness, and if she meets me she might just kiss me on the cheek.  :-)

That woman would turn out to be Debbie. I found out later who she was because she made it a point to call me and leave a voicemail around Christmas time:
"Hi Brian. This is Debbie. I just wanted to call and thank you. I'm 62 yrs old but I'm going to use this term - you are the bomb. My daughters tell me it doesn't mean the world's blowing up but that you're really fabulous. Every Wednesday when I come in, I know that everything is going to be fabulous because Brian was there in the morning. I don't even know who you are, I don't know anything about you, I just know you do a fabulous, fabulous job of cleaning and taking care of everything and I love Wednesdays because of what you do. I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful job you do and I really really appreciate it and I wish every volunteer would do such a wonderful job."

I sent her a note back thanking her for the kind sentiment and wishing her Merry Christmas and happy new year as well.  I found her words to be incredibly kind and flattering, and I was looking forward to meeting her at one of the next meetings or functions.

I'll never get that chance.

I got an email last week letting me know that Debbie passed away from cancer.

While many people in this world may be kind, it's rare to find someone who willingly goes out of their way to show unnecessary appreciation to someone they don't know.  There was no need to call me.  I was doing nothing exceptional - just simple, mundane chores.  Yet, the effort Debbie put in to show her appreciation spoke more to me about who she was than any other "stranger" I've ever known.

I really wish I had gotten the chance to meet her, but the brief interaction I had with Debbie showed me the pure kindness in her heart and the goodness of her soul, and I know the world lost a good person whom I never even met.

Everyone has a story, and everyone comes into your life for a reason.

A Buddhist friend of mine told me the other day, "No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place."
Whether we realize it or not, even the most obscure of interactions with people can leave indelible imprints on us. Debbie left one on me, and I know I'm just a slightly better person for having connected with her.

Thank you, Debbie.