Chicago adventures the babes the everyday moments

For Abby.

April 8, 2014

This past weekend, on my walk, I met a woman. I don’t know her name or if she lives in my neighborhood, or even really who she is – but I do know that God’s plan was for she and I to meet.

It started out just like any other walk with Oooj – we were on our usual path, through the tree-lined streets of our neighborhood. It was the first really nice day in – well, the whole year, and it seemed like everyone was out for a walk. We were stopped quite a bit – people fawning over Oooj (as they always do!), saying “What a cute little puppy!” Oooj has most people fooled, thinking he’s a cute little puppy, but really he’s a cute little old man dog. A couple had stopped us to pet Oooj and the guy said to me, “He has to be a schnauzer. Is he part-schnauzer? I think he’s part-schauzer. We have a schnauzer.” This guy was so excited over everything schnauzer, it was all I could do not to laugh, so of course I agreed with him. They gave Oooj a quick little pat on the head and we continued on our way, down the quiet street.

We got only a block further when a woman, probably in her late 50’s, decked out in her running gear, took her earbuds out and stopped and said “Ohhh! What a cute little puppy!!” So of course I told her “He’s actually 8!” to which she expressed her shock and then pet Oooj. And before I knew it, I was in full conversation with this woman.

“What’s his name?!”

(me, laughing – preparing for the look of question) “His name is Oooj”

“Oooj? What did that come from?”

“Yep, Oooj. I don’t know – he’s just an Oooj.”

“Oh, Oooj, you’re so sweet! Please tell me he’s a rescue,” she said.

“He is!”

She then hugged me, which obviously came as a surprise – since I didn’t know her – but it also kind of reminded me of my mom and I really didn’t mind it at all. (This is not normal for me. While I am totally a talker and a hugger, it’s typically not done with complete strangers. You live in a city for long enough, you learn some things. Head down and don’t talk to anyone or they will ask you for money. But this was different and I just felt some strange importance in speaking with this woman.)

“Oh I’m so happy to hear that. I rescue all of my animals,” she said.

“My mom would love you!” I replied. “I grew up with rescued animals – my mom was a pro at rescuing.”

“Bless her. Just bless her.”

She smiled at me, looking at me ever so closely, and then she said,

“It seems like you’re close with your mother. Are you two close?”

“We are. We’re very close. I call her ‘my best gal’.”

She teared up at this point, which struck me in such a way- and it was in that moment I knew there was more to this story.

“I was very close with my daughter. She was like sunshine,” she said as she continued to get choked up.

I noticed she was talking about her daughter in past tense and things were starting to add up in my head as I stood there.

“That’s so sweet of you to say that about her,” I said.

She paused a moment before letting me in on her secret.

“This May will be the one year anniversary of her death.”

Tears ran down her cheeks and I immediately held back my own tears.

“I’m so sorry”

“She was about your age. She died of cancer.”

“I’m so sorry,” was all I could say and the second time this came out of my mouth, I kicked myself for not having something else to say. But what else can you say?

She continued,

“I miss her so much. Today is her birthday.”

Time froze. It was like in that moment I had an overwhelming sense that God had specifically put me on her walking path.

I didn’t think twice, and I hugged her. We stood there, me hugging her, and she cried. And I just let her cry. And I hugged her tight.

I stood back and and she said,

“Her name is Abby. Please promise me you’ll speak her name just once today.”

“I promise. I will.”

She smiled, and then I said,

“Today is such a beautiful day to remember your daughter. I hope you have a beautiful walk today, with her.”

She reached out to put her hand on my hand, gave it a quick squeeze, and just like that- she continued her walk and I continued mine – in opposite directions.

I couldn’t help but wipe away tears from under my sunglasses as I continued my walk with Oooj. My immediate thought was to call my mom. But I didn’t call her right away. I wanted time, quiet time with God, thanking Him for placing me exactly where He wanted me to be on this very walk. It occurred to me that I could have easily been on the other side of the street – having never come in contact with this woman. Β And I’d almost taken Oooj on his walk earlier in the day but got busy with things at home and didn’t take him until later in the afternoon. And could she have had that talk with someone else on her walk? Perhaps. But I think God specifically planned for it to be me. Because I had all of the right things to say? Most likely not, but I don’t think most people would have hugged a complete stranger and just let them cry on their shoulder. I gave so much thanks to God that He chose me for that, that He used me. That little old man Oooj was the key to something so beautiful that day.

I walked and walked, thinking about Abby. What kind of person she might have been – the happiness she clearly brought to her mom’s life. The memories she left behind, and the walk that she was undoubtably on in that very moment with her mom.

And I did speak her name that day. Not just once, but quite a few times. I eventually called my mom later that evening to tell her the story. The story of this woman and her daughter and I just gave more thanks for God’s beautiful, beautiful ways. That He is a God of little big moments. And then, when I hung up the phone with my mom, I gave thanks for her. That we’re both still here to make new memories together. To hug each other. To love each other. And that when we miss each other so much, we’re just a phone call away.

So, Abby, this is for you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your birthday, your walk with your mom. You are very much still alive in this world. You are still the sunshine of your mother’s life.

EG signature

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  • I literally just teared up and did a sniffle sitting in my office. What an awesome moment! God is funny that way… He's always perfect in His timing πŸ™‚

  • Emily this has me in tears at my desk. What a touching, moving post. It's amazing the people that God puts in our way and how his timing is everything. I hope that Abby's mom somehow comes across this post.

  • This has me in tears too. So very beautiful that you could be there for her. Little will she know how many people will think of her daughter's name today.

  • This had me crying! The Lord works in mysterious ways, however, and I DO believe He put you two on the same path for the simple reason that you sweet and understanding – someone this woman definitely needed to give her strength on the day of her daughter's birthday. <3


    • You are sweet!! God is always so good – I feel blessed He chose me that day. It's a day I won't ever forget.

  • What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing Abby with all of us. You were such a blessing to her mom, just as much as you were to her. It's amazing how things are lined up so perfectly at times in this world isn't it?

  • Emily, you were given one very special man when you met Christian. He may be a nut but we all love him. I love how he knows spirit puts you where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. I have my own battle with cancer and all 3 of my cats are rescues!!! Give Oooj a kiss for me!!!

    • That's so nice of you to say, Wendy- thank you! I love that all of your babies are rescues! πŸ™‚ Love to you. XOXO

  • Just beautiful, Em! tears. for Abby…

  • This is absolutely beautiful. God is so good – it's moments like these in the everyday that I just can't believe he isn't with us. He is so good. Thanks for sharing this with the world.

  • What an amazing story in so many ways. Thinking of Abby and her sweet mother tonight…

  • Wow, what a powerful and amazing story! Thanks for sharing…you had me crying!

  • I teared up reading this. You were definitely placed on each other's paths that day. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow! What a powerful moment. Happy Birthday to Abby….

  • Bless your heart! What an amazing meeting, and so wonderful that you honoured Abby's memory with this post. Stunning πŸ™‚

  • I'm so glad you met that woman. What a wonderful blessing to have strangers in our lives that can touch us so deeply. Happy Birthday, Abby

  • I loved this, Emily. Very poignant and sad, yet so so beautiful. What an experience! I believe that God was watching and must have been so pleased that two people, created in his image yet knowing nothing of the other until that very moment, briefly (but importantly) bonded in such a way. My faith in humanity is restored! πŸ™‚

  • What a beautiful moment. It's a good reminder that we just never know when we're supposed to bless someone even while doing a somewhat mundane task.

    • Such a good reminder! Also reminded me to smile at people more – even the strangers πŸ™‚

  • Okay, this has to stop. You are the second post this evening that has made me cry. Seriously, this is when I need to be off the computer at 10:30 at night, before bed. Now I will be thinking of Abby tonight along with the other gal I read about 30 minutes ago. I’m so happy to hear you did not put off calling your mother after your encounter. Sometimes I believe God gives us angels here on earth for whatever reasons. Even using our pets in the process! Wow! Incredible story.

    • aw! haha! I believe God gives us angels here on earth too πŸ™‚ Hope you woke up feeling re-hydrated! XO