Welcome back for another installment of Positive Connections: Messages from our Fans!
In the story below, Christine Dance, a bartender at Alex and Ani Annapolis, shares a truly touching story about a customer searching for inspiration during a difficult time. After talking for a bit, Christine quickly realized they had more in common than she thought.
Today I was standing behind our bangle bar when two women approached me. I asked them what they were searching for and one immediately asked me for a bracelet representing inspiration. I paused for a moment to assess if she might be okay with me asking a personal question and then asked if she minded me asking what the inspiration was for. She teared up and told me that her daughter was hit by a car in January.
I had a few bangles in mind from my own experiences, but wanted to find out more about her daughter before suggesting bangles. I asked her if her daughter was still struggling physically and she told me her daughter was unable to walk and felt hopeless. She was slightly emotional at this point but not giving me a lot of information. I told her it sounded like both she and her daughter had been through a very difficult time, and I had some charms in mind from brain surgeries I had gone through in the last two years. She immediately began to make eye contact with me and asked me to show her what I had. However, before I went to get them, she began to tell her and her daughter’s story and commented that not many people could understand what they had gone through and her daughter felt very hopeless about her life.
The word “hopeless” was enough for me to bring her our Charity by Design Lighthouse bangle and meaning card. I told her the lighthouse to me represented hope and light in the darkest of times. She began to tear up and said this was exactly what they both needed. While I don’t tell many people about my physical difficulties when working, I felt that this woman needed a moment of hope. I told her that I had been told I would never be able to walk again and was sent to a state home to live. I then stepped back and told her that I was walking despite every medical prediction and that all hope is possible.
She asked me if I minded sharing more of my story, and I told her briefly about how I have a traumatic brain injury that caused me to go blind and resulted in six months in and out of the hospital with multiple procedures and unable to see. When I got to the point of the mistake in a second surgery that left me paralyzed, she began to cry and asked me to keep going.
After I told her my story, she began to tell me more of her daughter’s story – 19 surgeries with more to go, and how her daughter will never be able to be a mother, and cannot yet walk, but they are still holding hope. She said she had never seen anything as remarkable as me and had never connected with someone who understood the hopelessness of the medical world and asked me if she could bring her daughter in to meet me.
She was so kind and connected to her daughter, I wanted to share one more piece of my story that very few people share. I told her that her daughter was very lucky to have a mom so emotionally and physically involved and that I had gone through much of my surgeries and procedures alone. She again began to cry and I told her that what she was doing was a beautiful act of selflessness and love, and her care for her daughter would bring more hope to the situation than she realized.
We talked for a little while about therapies to try – including yoga therapy which I am trained in. I gave her my contact information if she ever needed a reminder of hope and also gave her information for other professionals in the field who have helped me and how they might help her daughter. I also told her to give my name so they could get an appointment. The woman wept as she told her story initially and apologized, but when I told her I still cry over my own story, she seemed relieved and comforted. I told her not to belittle what she and her daughter are going through and she repeatedly thanked me for hope.
Working with someone during their darkest hour is what Alex and Ani is all about. While we have beautiful jewelry, we are a place of giving and understanding, and I had a perfect chance to connect with someone who understood me and I understood her. She kept repeating that no one understood her or her daughter and remarked that they had simply stopped in this store accidentally. I told her nothing in life is accidental, and her parting words were, “Maybe you’re right. Thank you. You have been added to my prayer list if you don’t mind. Thank you for giving us hope – I’ll never forget it.”
Thank you, Alex and Ani, for another chance to make a difference in our community.