I drove to the Hyatt and visited the Ladies Room. Relieved of my body’s most urgent demand, I entered the Starbucks bar, always a place of comfort for me. As she made my latte, I told the barista all about how I couldn’t get home. I guess I was a little tearful by this time. “Oh, my,” said she, “I hope I can get home. The race runs by my road, too. Here you are,” she said, handing me my drink, “it’s on the house.” That was the first act of kindness of the evening. I didn’t notice it at the time, but my anger had begun to lose just the tiniest bit of steam. In the dining room, I told my story to the waitress. It seems as if I couldn’t stop talking about it. She was a great listener and so sympathetic and kind, I just couldn’t continue fuming. I ate my dinner, went back upstairs to the coffee shop to read the newspapers to kill time. I had reached my town at around 4:30 pm. Now, it was close to 8:00 pm. I was really tired now. I decided I’d try one more time, and if I couldn’t get through, I’d go to the police station and demand…something. My plan wasn’t clear, but I was sure they owed me a way to my house. The fifteen minute drive from the Hyatt took about half an hour, and the first policeman I encountered (at one of those awful intersections where runners were still blocking the street) was also kind and sympathetic. She told me to go back to my street and ask the policeman there to let me through. She had been standing there in the cold for a long, long time. Still, she was patient and soft spoken and helpful. What IS it with these people? I thought. They won’t let me stay angry. And I SO wanted to stay angry.
When I reached my street, the policeman remembered me from four hours ago. I was really ready to cry this time, and I guess he saw it. “Follow me,” he said, “I’ll get you there. I’m going to walk in front of your car.” With his body between my car and a horde of runners, he slowly but surely walked me to my driveway, directing the runners to one side. I thanked him and told him my father had been a cop and how much I appreciated his help. At that, his face lit up. I’d been thinking about my father all along, and how he used to help people out of tough situations, and wishing he were there to help me. Now I think maybe he was.
The last straw, so to speak, was Missy. She was standing at the end of my driveway with a cowbell, cheering the runners. It was cold, it was dark, the wind was blowing, and there she was, shouting, “Come on, you can do it!” I have no idea how long she’d been out there. She was glad to see me and I was glad to see her. “It’s the last lap,” she said. “This is when they need cheering the most.” For the first time, I actually stopped to look at them. Tired beyond belief, these athletes who had begun at 5:00 am swimming in icy waters and cycling over a hundred miles, were almost done. They had carried on, hitting God knows how many walls and pushing through them. I had never seen such fatigue. And such courage. And here was Missy, cheering them on. My transformation was now almost complete. Anger, or the Power of the Shadow, had dissipated in the face of kindness and courage.
In a little while, as we sat at my kitchen table, Missy in her sweet way, took the last bit of resentment out of my heart. Her phone rang. The call was from the family of the athlete she had housed. “We’ve got an IRON MAN,” they shouted. Their daughter had made it. They were at a local restaurant celebrating. “Come on over,” they shouted to Missy. She was tired, but she said, “I have to go over to say hello.” My street had cleared enough by now, and Missy went out into the darkness to share their joy.
And that is how it works. Darkness cannot prevail when exposed to the light. Anger cannot last when it is faced with kindness. The Power of Love is greater than the Power of the Shadow. Every time.
Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. It is available at http://www.Amazon.com and at the News Center in Easton, MD.