Its crazy how one little bag of Hickory Sticks (chips) can have such an impact in my life; even over 30 years later. But, on this particular day it kind of smacked me in the face, then hugged me and made me feel just a little bit more healed. My two older children – Nicholas and Sophia-Marie were being their usual selves, rowdy, loud, and funny. I was growing a bit flustered while I stood in line trying to keep my kids in check when I saw that the lady in front of me in the lineup was holding a bag of Hickory Sticks. I felt myself frozen in a moment, with the memories of my childhood played inside my head.
“I love those Hickory sticks, they were my favorite treat when I was younger.” I said to the lady. I could feel my face getting red. I was telling myself even as I stood there to stop talking, shut up CM; she wasn’t interested. But instead I kept going. Filter was gone.
“oh me too.” she replied with a quiet smile.
“It reminds me of a good time in my childhood, I used to go visit my father in jail weekly through out the first 8 years of my life. When I would go to visit the bulls would always have a bag of hickory sticks for my brother and I. They never knew, but I really needed that bag of chips and it made my heart happy again. I was always so grateful when someone would allow us to eat, let alone give it too me.”
My face went those horrid shades of red, I was sweating feeling embarrassed and naked inappropriately. My inside voice was screaming TMI! TMI! When will you learn CM?
She smiled, listened to my story and said something to the affect of “That is a good memory..”
I didn’t even get to end the conversation with the lady because just that moment my daughter bonked her head on the counter and started crying loudly. Once I had looked back again she was gone. I started laying my things onto the counter when I noticed that there was a bag of Hickory Sticks sitting there.
I looked up to the clerk and told her that the previous customer must have forgotten the chips, I had just seen her and she had said how much she enjoyed them.
“Actually these are paid for by that customer, she said she wanted you to have them.”
“Are you serious?” I said “but I shared way to much I thought I made her uncomfortable… wow, that’s pretty intense.” I’m tearing up. I’m thinking that she really got it. She could totally see and hear what I was really saying – that it was a bitter but sweet good memory. I felt that she just saw the little girl that was hiding inside of me, hungry and alone. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of love. I truly felt as though the little 5 year old was beaming inside, so proud of her bag of hickory sticks..feeling so blessed to have some food in my belly without it being taken away before I could really eat anything, or worse.
My son was amazed that the lady who didn’t even know his mommy bought her a bag of these chips. I was crying once I exited the store. I saw her in front of me down the hill and I smiled and walked towards her.
“thank you for the bag of chips, you really just touched a part of my heart that was truly fractured. I can feel the little girl inside of me feeling so blessed and happy… thank you very much..” I grabbed her gently and said “I’m gonna hug you now -” and I reached for her embrace. I was very emotional, and she was calm. My insides were overwhelming warm and fuzzy…
“You made my mom cry she was so happy!” my son said standing beside me watching this emotional moment for me. Nicholas knows that I was a foster kid, and that my mom and dad hurt me a lot as a child. He is smart for his age and full of empathy and love for others. I feel proud at that moment. I mean look! I made this smart and kind young boy and beautiful young girl. I made it. My kids are healthy and clean, you can tell from their big beautiful smiles and eyes that they are loved and happy. They are safe. I have come so far from those days with my parents. I am no longer scared of when my next meal may be, or when the next beating will arise, or who will come into my bedroom as I try to sleep – I no longer have to banished to the entrance to eat with the dogs of the house, sharing their kibbles.
That experience with the nice lady who heard my story stuck with me for days after…it still hasn’t even stopped making me smile and cry at the same time. For some reason this made me feel like someone actually heard me for the first time, and actually gave me some chance for healing and closure.
I still have not eaten that bag, I keep it on my dresser and hold it sometimes.. but I always just look at it and think of how wonderful that woman was to me that day. She was truly a kind human being.. she helped me heal a part of my heart I never thought I could feel so whole in that moment. I felt like I had been wrapped in a warm blanket of hugs. I think that bag of chips was a sign from God. Time to share… Time to start taking care of my heart, mind and soul. Part of that means that I need to start getting my story written. I don’t want to die before I have the chance to tell my story – and share how I survived a life that was almost snuffed out before it could bloom.