Where I Catch My Breath

Back at the end of February, actually on the 27th to be exact, one of my customers that had been shopping with me since we first opened back in 1993, was senselessly murdered by her husband. Sadly she was shot in her head, and the bullet went straight through and hit her dog as well. The dog survived, but my friend, Faith, lost her life. I wrote a short blog post after I found this out that you can read here assuming the link works. Faith's sister, Cindy, had called "the store" because Faith had a layaway due and she wanted to make sure that it didn't get forfeited because Faith's daughter really wanted it. Of course I took care of it because it was what my heart wanted to do. That is what you do in life, the "right thing". Actually it has been a month today since that happened and it still feels like yesterday.  That is the kind of store Country Roads is. Many of our customers truly become our friends, our family.

As you know, Brande named her nursery after my Mom, her Grandma, "Johnnye Merle". I've always found peace out in the garden. If I'm having a crazy day, or if I need a moment or two to "catch my breath" this is where I go. I find comfort there and somehow know my Mom is looking down on me to help me find the comfort or peace or whatever else I may be seeking. Built on asphalt, eighteen years ago or so, the garden to me is one of the best spots at Country Roads. There is just something that is very calming about it. And for me, when you stand at the counter and have to deal with not only customers, but your own "life" as well, there are days you do need to "catch your breath". So I always head out to the gardens!

I had heard that Cindy, Faith's sister, had come in a couple of times to pick up Faith's last layaway for Faith's daughter, Chloe. But Cindy never had a car big enough to fit the last purchase Faith will ever make at Country Roads. And the very selfish part of me was glad I didn't have to take the phone call that day letting us know Faith was gone, glad I didn't have to see Cindy. I don't mean that to sound cruel, but when you are in a store filled with people, and you have no where to go when you work at the counter, I wasn't sure I would be able to handle it. The sting of it all is still too fresh.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the "paper table" behind the counter. The paper table is just a table that holds a big stack of paper that we wrap our customers merchandise in. Brande was working the counter when a girl about Brande's age and a young guy walked up to the counter. I knew immediately who it was, it was Chloe, here to pick up the last thing her Mom bought at her favorite store, Country Roads.  And then when I heard the words, "I'm here to pick up my mom's layaway" that was said with a lot of pain in her voice, I jumped down and don't even remember the first words I said to Faith's daughter. I asked her where she was parked, and as Brande offered to go with them, I knew I needed to go and wanted to do this. As we walked to the last building of the store, we didn't say much to each other. Our hearts said it all. As we walked from the first building to the second, Chloe's eyes filled with tears and all she could say was, "just being here, walking through the store, it reminds me of my mom." I simply told her I understood and we continued our walk from the second building to the third to get Faith's layaway.

When we got to the third building, and to the last layaway Faith will ever had, her daughter's eyes filled with tears again. I don't believe she had even knew what the item was. She is a very strong young woman, pulled herself together very quickly. I don't know if I, at her age going through what is was dealing with, could have done the same. Then we got busy with carrying the item out the back, who would take what, and going out the back garden gate.

As I unlocked the gate, opened it  and really worked hard on keeping myself together, I knew it was time to say good-bye. I looked at Faith's daughter, seeing a great deal of Faith in her and simply said, "I have no words" and just put my arms around her for a few moments. Sometimes words aren't always needed, you know? I wasn't ready to go back to the counter, so I escaped to my favorite little place as I composed myself to get ready to go back to work. I walked through the garden, looked at our beautiful flower beds and just tried to sort out my thoughts before going back inside. I will never, ever understand "why" these things happen to such wonderful people. But it isn't important right now. Country Roads has always been more than just a "store". When I talk about my Country Roads family, there REALLY is a family feeling about Country Roads. I know many of you that are reading this understand totally what my words, my feelings, are saying. I hope you all remember how fragile life is, and the importance of doing the "right" things in life. If it comes from the heart, then you know it truly is the "right" thing in life!

"Blackbird singing in the dead of the night

Take thes broken wings and learn to fly

You were only waiting for this moment to arise"


Divine Theatre said...

So much sadness in the world. I am so sorry.
My friend was murdered at the Lane Bryant in Tinley park, IL three years ago, along with four other women, and I still cannot say or write her name without crying uncontrollably (like am now).
My prayers are with Faith's family.


Diane Mars said...

Oh that must have been hard... senseless death is never easy to understand...
Hugs to you, beautifulpost.

Anonymous said...

Oh Sue,
I am so saddened for all of the pain Faith's family and friends are having to deal with. I know that it has been difficult for you as well, some customers really do become like family and really touch your life in a special way. This loss is so deep and I will keep her family and friends in my thoughts and prayers. All of your kindness I'm sure will never be forgotten by her family and I know Faith is looking down on you and smiling now.
Take lots of time to catch your breath.

Vintage Market Place said...

Oh Sue,
I have no words
heartbreaking would be the one I could choose about this story.
If everyone took 2 minutes to do the right thing we would all live in a very happy peaceful place.

Kristin @ Yellow Bliss Road said...

Oh my heart is breaking for this family. What a beautiful post you have written. It brought tears streaming down my cheeks. I think you found just the right words.

Faded Charm said...

Why do these things have to happen? I wonder as my eyes tear up just reading this.

I can see why you love to go out to the gardens to breathe, Sue.....it is a magical place that I really enjoyed while visiting last year and could have spent hours out there.


Crystal said...

I cried reading your post. This is so sad and these things happen every day. I just don't understand people. My thoughts are with you and her family having to deal with such tragedy. Sorry just isn't enough.

Sandi~A Cottage Muse said...

I am sure the sun and Faith were shining down on you as you caught your breath.

Hugs to you.