The sky was black except for the white shocks of lightning, punctuating the pouring rain and blasting bouts of thunder. It was quite a show, that thunderstorm. I wish I had been able to see it from the comfort of my own house but we were driving through downtown Chicago, on our way to a fondue restaurant to celebrate my oldest boy entering his teen years. His love language is cheese. He was drooling in the back of the car just thinking about the meal to come. We’d been running around all day, to school, to sports after school, to pick up siblings, to his school open house and then we ran through the driving rain to our car as the lightning struck, close, we all screamed a little and jumped into our car in time to see the power go out in his school building and half the block around it. The storm was probably the worst I’ve seen in Chicago all year. The streets were flooded, the traffic insane, but we went downtown anyway, braving it all, because Chet’s become a teen and this is kind of a big deal.
We were all a little crabby by the time we reached State and Ohio, pedestrians and cars and rain and thunder, it was chaos. It was crazy. The crease between my eyebrows dug in deep as I listened to kids arguing and complaining, as I picked at my husband’s driving, as I began to resent being out in the wilds of Chicago on a night like this and then we were sitting at a light. A man stood on the street, dressed casually, middle-aged, shivering. He was waiting for something it seemed, looking around, maybe a tourist, maybe lost. Lost in the rain. A car pulled up near him and the window was rolled down. I thought perhaps this was his ride but a hand just gestured to him and the man seemed to notice the car for the first time. As he drew closer an umbrella was handed to him. The man looked stunned. He pointed to his chest and shook his head but the person in the car simply waved him over and stuck the umbrella out further. The middle-aged man came forward, took the umbrella and smiled, waving and thanking the stranger. He walked back to where he’d been standing and I noticed a woman who I had not seen, he opened the umbrella, pointed to the car and placed the umbrella over her head. She kept a look of confusion on her face for a moment, then shook her head, smiling and I realized that I was crying at this small act of kindness. Random. Caught in just the right moment for me. It was one small thing in a mass of big, messy things and it restored some missing piece in me. That’s really something. I thought you should know. 😉