As we drove out of the neighborhood, McKenzie shouted from the back seat, “Mom! I think that woman needs help!”
I quickly looked out the side window and saw an older woman standing with her hand on a tree, leaning a bit to the right.
I was tempted to say, “We’re going to be late to the movies!” but instead explained that I thought the woman might just be stretching. My daughter insisted that something was wrong.
I slowed down, arguing with myself to keep driving, but knew from past experiences that McKenzie wasn’t going to let this go. “Would you feel better if I turned around?”
Without hesitation she responded with an emphatic yes.
By the time I made the U-turn and we circled back, the woman was walking again. I sheepishly rolled down my window and called, “Excuse me, are you ok?”
She looked up and smiled and said, “Yes! I just can’t breathe when I walk up hills. It’s just part of having this old body.”
I smiled back and explained that we just wanted to check to make sure.
She waved her hand and told us again that she was okay, but sure appreciated that we had checked on her.
I could hear McKenzie breathe a sigh of relief as we drove away, and I wondered if I would have stopped had I been alone.
If I am honest, I have to admit that many times, that answer would be no.
And it wouldn’t be because I don’t care if someone is hurting. I am embarrassed to admit that sometimes I don’t stop because it isn’t convenient, but other times it is connected to fear. I second guess myself and often find the thought popping into my head is, “Mind your own business.” I don’t know where I learned such a response, but I am working to unlearn it. Nothing will ever change if I simply mind my own business.
I was thinking about this last night as I scanned the news online. I read about a young cross country runner named Melanie Bailey who, during her last race as a senior, stopped to help another runner, Danielle LeNoue, who mid-race hurt her knee and could no longer run. LeNoue explained that as she fell to the ground in pain, most runners ran right past her, hardly looking her way, but Bailey stopped. Not only did she stop, she carried Danielle to the finish line. When asked why, Bailey explained, “”It’s just a race. That’s the thing. A person is forever. A race just lasts 25 minutes.”
“A person is forever.” Such beautiful, challenging words. When we look at others in that way, “mind your own business” just doesn’t seem to work anymore. Yet another teenager who gives me hope and encourages me to live differently.