The picture above is of a delicious meal that was made for me last night. What you don't see in this picture is the woman who made this dinner for us. She makes lunch and dinner for us every day, and she is one of the sweetest, most hard-working women that I know.
Two days ago, because of a death in her family, she didn't show up to work. I spent some time last night speaking with her, and as she shared her life challenges with me, my eyes welled up with tears.
This woman is incredible. She is strong. She has gone through trials that I will probably never have to deal with in my life.
Her nephew passed away two days ago, due to drug violence, which made her remember her own son, who passed away a year ago due to gang violence.
“I like coming to work, because I can think of other things,” she told me. “When I go to my house at night, I see the pictures of my son and end up crying.”
At this point, I felt tears running down my face. Do I wipe them away? I wondered. How do I say, “I am so sorry this happened to you” in Spanish?
I wipe my tears away and stay silent, just listening to her.
She continued to tell me that her surviving son (16 years old) misses his brother so much that he goes through depression on the 21st of every month (the day his brother was killed). She also tells me about her own brother – the son of her father – who she found a week ago in his house, barely alive.
“It was like looking at a skeleton,” she tells me. “He had gotten so sick that he couldn't take care of himself. He hadn't eaten in a week.”
Her brother has an infection in his colon, and since he has no family, his sister (our cook) has taken care of him.
“I took him to a hospital, but it is not a good hospital,” she said. “It is one at the school. They are giving him medicine, and my brother says he feels better because he is not in pain. But what he doesn't know is that the infection has spread to the rest of his body.”
She continued to share her sorrow with me, as I continued to listen and cry. When our conversation came to an end, I didn't know what to do other than to hug this courageous woman and tell her, “I love you. You are very special to us, and I am praying for you and for your family.”
She said, “Thank you, Bailey, for your support.” Then she grabbed her belongings and walked out of the door, leaving the meal she had made for us on the counter.
Since I had a "skype date" with some friends, I got a to-go plate of the food and walked to the school to use the internet. When I got to my classroom, I sat down at my desk and opened the box. What I saw was a perfectly baked pork chop, sweet green beans, beautiful, Southern potato salad, and juicy, red watermelon. It was a warm dinner that had been made with the most tender care.
I just stared at the plate of food.
Lord? I prayed. This meal was made by a woman whose brother was found starving to death in his house!
The reality of my privilege was thrown into my face at that moment. Why do I have a plate full of food while so many in this country have none? Why have I grown up so privileged, while others have nothing?
I didn't know what to do but to pray.
For our cook.
For her surviving son.
For her brother.
For her family.
And I thanked the Lord for giving me this perspective and for giving me this plate of warm food. And I prayed that I can use what I have to bless others, in Jesus' name.