*The phrase “home for the holidays” holds a different meaning for everyone. I’ve read several articles about December and January being the gloomiest time of the year for many people. I could not empathize, until recently.
I am constantly amazed at how the mind can compartmentalize sadness and grief. I was in a good place, or so I thought, as I approached the holidays. The grief and anger I’d felt over my pending divorce dissipated, and yet the disappointment lingers.
The fact that the divorce won’t be finalized until mid-2018 often feels like the final twist of a dagger plunged into my heart. Moment to moment, I allow myself to mentally visit that place of despair, yet I refuse to live there. Still, it’s been a struggle.
I allowed my pride to get the best of me. I felt defeated at having to live with my mother until my affairs are in order. I prayed and asked God to order my steps. In rapid succession, He sent me reminders of how blessed I really am.
On a recent afternoon, I was talking to a college friend and we were talking about how we needed a break. I had been invited to an LGBTQ Art & Culture Festival event and invited her along, joking that she would have to be an honorary lesbian for the weekend. She laughed and said, “Girl, please! I’m glad if anyone is looking at me!” Half an hour later, she texted me and said she was on her way to her hometown of Denver because her father had been given six weeks to live. I prayed for her and her father. He passed 20 hours after she arrived. I was thankful she had the opportunity to see him before he transitioned. I thought of how the concept of being home for the holidays would forever have a different meaning for my friend.
The very next day, I was on my way to the Social Security Disability office to make an emergency request for a partial distribution of my retro disability benefit. I intended to use the funds to make a down payment on a house or furnish it. As a veteran, I can purchase a home with no money down. I was eight miles from the office when I felt the tire pressure on the driver’s side change. This cannot be happening! I thought. I pulled over to the side of the road, saw the flat tire. And made a decision to press on. Eight miles … just eight miles … I gotta get there. I placed my hazard lights on and drove slowly. I prayed that I could get there without damaging the rim.
I pulled into the closest parking space but before I could get out of the car, a beautiful woman with salt and pepper hair approached the passenger side. I rolled down the window. “You may want to pull into another space so the tow truck will have enough room,” she said. I followed her instructions and got out of the car.
“I can see the whole parking lot from my office window. I saw your car leaning to one side. I knew you weren’t okay,” the woman explained, adding that her husband was an FBI agent and that she’d learned to be aware of her surroundings.My eyes welled with tears. I said,
“I came here for one thing but now it is something else.” She advised me to take care of my SSI business as that would take some time, then suggested that I call my insurance company once my business was completed. I followed her advice. I waited thirty minutes before a tow truck pulled in and parked in front of my car. The woman who helped me happened to be walking to her vehicle at the same time.
The tow driver seemed flustered. He said, “Miss Pickett, I know this is going to sound crazy, but would you mind if I came back to tow you? We just got a call from the fire department. There was a collision a couple blocks away and they need us to remove the car. The driver needs to be cut out of the vehicle. Another driver is on his way to pick me up.” I said,
“Wait … What? So, you’re going to leave and come back for me?” He said,
“Yes, ma’am.” The gravity of the situation made my problems seem trivial. I said,
“Of course. Just don’t forget about me. It’s hot and I don’t think there’s a place for me to get something to eat.” He rushed to the passenger side as another tow truck pulled up. “Thank you, Miss Pickett, I won’t forget about you.”
I had forgotten that the woman was standing there the whole time. She said, “I’m on my way to lunch, Chik-Fil-A. You can ride with me to get something to eat.”
I was grateful and surprised. “Thank you,” I said. We got in the car and I realized I didn’t know her name. “I’m Monika. That was rude of me and you’ve been so kind.” She laughed and said,
“I believe in divine alignment. We met for a reason. I’m Kitra.” We spent the whole ride to Chik-Fil-A talking about God and spirituality. I paid for her lunch and she dropped me back off at my car. I said, “Thank you, Kitra, you have been such a blessing today.” Again, I felt tears forming. She held my hands in hers and said, “Can I pray with you?” I said,
“Please.” I thanked her again and I sat in my car alone eating my lunch. About 30 minutes later, I received a call from my insurance company.
“Miss Pickett, I wanted to let you know that the tow truck driver will be there within 15 minutes,” said the agent. “I wanted to thank you for your patience and kindness. The driver in the collision, he didn’t make it.” I was momentarily speechless as her words sank in. I said, “You are more than welcome and I am so sorry to hear that.”
The tow truck driver arrived within 15 minutes. He also thanked me for my patience. I told him it was the least I could do.
My stepfather met me at the nearby automotive shop, where my car had been towed. I told him the events of my day. I was exhausted by the time I returned to my mother’s house. I prayed for the presence of Kitra. I prayed for the family of the driver who lost his life. How different would their holidays be? I lay down on my mother’s couch and pulled the cover over my head.
My car sat parked for two months before my retro payment was processed. I remember telling my mother, “I don’t know how much more I can take, Mommy.”
She never looked up as she continued stirring her pots on the stove. She said,
“Sometimes, God will remove things from your life to protect you.”
I realize how blessed I am to still have my mother here on earth, to have a place to lay my head, to wake up every day with a chance to start anew. I consider what others may be going through during this holiday season. I am thankful to be home for the holidays.
Monika M. Pickett is a veteran of the United States Army. Her debut novel, PRETTY BOY BLUE is available on Amazon. Pickett is an advocate and activist for the LGBTQ community. For more information on Monika M. Pickett, please visit, www.MonikaMPickett.com. For other inquiries email [email protected]