We got a very heavy snow tonight. The kind of snow that makes each scoop of the shovel bend under its weight. The kind of snow that makes your shoulders ache for days following its arrival on your doorstep.
When we were headed out the door, I saw my neighbor across the road finishing up her driveway.
I've only had one interaction with her so far, and it was the day she came knocking on my door with my recycle bin which I had left on my curb for two days. "I was just wondering if you needed this in the house. You know that the recycle was picked up on Monday, right"? (Don't judge, people. When you're lugging a two year old, a brief case and a diaper bag, snagging the recycle bin just doesn't cross your mind).
I've thought about her many times. Her house is never lit, I'm assuming to save on the electricity. I wonder how she makes it over there, in that big old house, on her own. I've never seen children or grandchildren there, or even another car in her drive. No wonder she kept such close track of her neighbors lack of good citizenship.
Tonight after I finished my drive, I thought about my last post, and I decided to cross over and do hers. The slush was so heavy, I couldn't stand the thought of her trying to scrape herself out. As I was just about finished, she tapped me on the back and nearly gave me a heart attack. I hadn't heard her approaching since I was listening to Gordon Lightfoot sing his warnings to the sun.
"Who are you and what are you doing", she questioned as I slipped my ear pods out.
"I'm Jenn, your neighbor over there. I just wanted to dig you out. The snow is heavy and I don't have my girls and I just figured..." My heart was pounding; I was afraid that I'd insulted her; trespassed upon her property and perhaps taken from her a chore that she enjoyed.
I looked into her eyes as she tucked a gray hair behind her ear. "I'm overwhelmed", she said, biting her lip.
"Oh, well, don't be. I think about you all the time, and tonight I didn't have my girls, so I thought I'd just fill my time this way".
"I didn't think I had a friend in the world," she stammered as the tears welling in my eyes fell from hers. (Trust me lady, I know that feeling).
"I'm overwhelmed," she said again. "What can I do to help you sometime"? I smiled and asked her to just help someone else out and think of me. "I didn't think anyone cared anymore" she said, wiping her eyes.
"Merry Christmas", I smiled at her as she said she'd let me get back to what I was doing.
And what I was doing was shoveling and sobbing. A half an hour of my time gave her something that she obviously desperately needed, something much more than a clear driveway.
And it gave me something, too. Hope. Hope that little by little, I can do it. I can make a difference.
And so can you. So can you.