Maggie left Michigan and heading to Colorado to begin a new life and career at the age of twenty-six after walking out of a meaningless job. She felt deeply that this was her chance to make her way in the world – living out a dream working with kids at the YMCA in Colorado Springs.
Her dream never happened. Instead, she spent four weeks sick before facing the fact that the altitude did not agree with her asthma. Forced to leave what she thought was her new exciting life, she faced the unpleasant reality of returning to Michigan where she would be unemployed, living at home with parents and no idea what to do with her life.
Driving 1,400 miles alone, sick and down-in-the-dumps was awful. The constant wheezing, shortness of breath, and heavy pain in her lungs caused her extreme discomfort and the medication she consumed made her constantly drowsy. Relief appeared as Maggie reached the Michigan border at about 10:00 pm. Tired and facing a four-hour drive, she pulled off and rented a room at a motel, and immediately went to bed. She hadn’t noticed the exhaust fan in her car was still running as she walked into the hotel. The next morning she only found that her car wouldn’t start.
At that moment, in the parking lot of the motel, Maggie wanted to cry. On top of all of the medical and mental stress, she now had to tackle not only a physical breakdown, but also a car breakdown. She just wanted to be home. After a tow to the nearest dealership, Maggie settled in the waiting room for a two-hour repair. That’s when she started talking to an older woman who was also waiting there. The woman had a friendly face lined softly with wisdom, and an approachable, motherly look.
“So you’re having some repairs done?” she asked with concern in her voice.
“Yes,” Maggie said with a sigh. “My car wouldn’t start. I have no idea what happened.” She leaned back, put her head back against the blank wall and stared up at the fluorescent lights on the ceiling contemplating how many hours she would be sitting there.
Then, the woman and Maggie started to talk. The woman asked Maggie to tell her about what happened to her car. Maggie did, and then they settled into comfortable, casual conversation like vacations, the history of weather in Michigan, and places to eat. Their conversation then shifted to more personal things. The woman talked about her struggle with feelings of guilt as she contemplated putting her eighty-five year old mother in a nursing home. Maggie tried to sympathize and told her about her trip to Colorado, her asthma, her home and her parents.
“Your car is ready ma’am,” said the service manager to the woman.
“Oh, thank you,” the woman said.
She stood up and wished Maggie luck as she gathered her purse and car keys from the seat next to her. But then as she was about to walk away, she hesitated and then turned back to Maggie.
“You know, I have to tell you something,” the woman said. The brightness in her blue eyes dimmed a bit as she glanced at the floor and then looked straight into Maggie’s eyes. “My daughter died a few years ago. It’s so hard even now to do just the simple things.” She swallowed hard, exhaled deeply and went on, “But every now and then I meet someone who reminds me of my daughter, and today, you reminded me so much of her.” She smiled with tears in her eyes and went on. “I believe that sometimes God puts people in my path to remind me of her and to show me that my daughter is still with me and that I can get through this. I’ve so enjoyed talking to you today.” A genuine smile covered her face. “When you get home I want you to hug your parents. They are very lucky to have you.”
Maggie didn’t know how to respond. She felt tears welling up in her eyes, and all she managed was to mumble a lame-sounding, “Oh, thank you.” She felt so moved by what the woman said, so touched by this revelation about her daughter. Maggie was a person who normally hides her emotions, but that day she stood up and hugged the woman and said, “I enjoyed talking to you too,” and she meant it.