The other day I dealt with a cashier who was not particularly friendly. She was offering service, but not with a smile.
If this had happened eight months ago, I would have felt a bit grouchy about her unpleasant demeanour. Why couldn't she just smile? As you know, I was the type who would play funny pranks, wear a dinosaur hat just to get a reaction out of people, and paste smiley face stickers on your dad’s water bottle, wallet and Bible. I didn’t understand, when I met a serious stranger, why they couldn’t be a bit more pleasant.
But you made me understand, Nahum, that smiling isn't always possible. Now, when I see someone who can’t seem to smile in public, I can relate. There were days in the past eight months when Dad and I had a hard time smiling, too. You taught me to be slower to judge people whose story I don't know, whose suffering I have not experienced. You taught me to be more compassionate.
You might like to know that the other day after I saw the sad-looking cashier, I reminded myself of this: Maybe that person just got a heart-breaking diagnosis.
And just that thought made me want to give that person the benefit of the doubt. To not expect her to conjure up a fake smile. To give an extra measure of grace and compassion, just in case.
It makes me sad to think that people who meet our family in the future won't meet you, Nahum. After all, as the social worker told me just days after we received your diagnosis, you are and always will be our firstborn! But maybe if we remember what God used you to teach us, and reach out to others with extra sensitivity and compassion — which you helped us to learn — in a small way they will meet you, after all!