Dear man with the yellow roses,
I haven’t forgotten you, I never will. I was 15, so young, so angry, so resentful of anyone with a smile. It was late, I was cleaning the counters, getting ready to end my shift and lock the doors after another day of pointless monotony.
You walked in, and my anger flared. There went my clean counter and any chance of getting out the door on time. I remember the way you sat down, as though the world had followed you in and was perched on your shoulders. You ordered coffee, (I had to make a fresh pot) I turned away so you wouldn’t see how much your presence was upsetting me, I just wanted to go home, not be nice to another stranger for a quarter tip, but I put on my fake smile, and made the coffee.
It was only when the drink had finished brewing and I put the cup in front of you that I finally took a good look. You were probably in your late 30’s, an old man to my 15 years, but your eyes had the look of someone who had lived much longer than that, and it was in that moment that I realized, just like me, you too were toting a bag filled with pain…I gave you a true smile for the first time and asked if you needed anything else. You said “no”, but then you started talking.
I don’t remember what you said, only the sadness with each word spoken. I had no answers, no magical advice at my young age, so I just listened.
You left, I closed up and didn’t think of you again until the next evening when you showed up with a dozen yellow roses. You didn’t stay, but your words did, they embedded themselves deep into my heart, and have been there ever since. “Thank you for listening, you saved my life”. You told me you had planned on killing yourself, but because someone listened, you changed your mind.
You said I saved your life, but you changed mine. You taught me that listening is more important than speaking, and I truly have carried that lesson with me through life.
This happened 32 years ago at The Hunter House in Birmingham MI. I don’t know where you are now, but I pray you found your peace. Maybe, somehow you’ll read this and recognize yourself, if so, contact me.
Please share this post, not only in hopes of finding this man and allowing me to thank him for a first step in changing my life, but in the hope that everyone will realize the importance of just listening, no matter your age.