Last night Phil and I went to the Walgreens down the street from our house. We were standing in line behind a young man who was in the process of paying for a pack of cigarettes. I looked at him and said, “My sister died two days ago from smoking cigarettes. I really hope you are thinking about quitting some day soon.”
Phil stood frozen as we watched the young man whom I had never met before process what I had just said to him. Phil’s first thought was that the young man was going to punch him. The young man looked at us and said, “Wow, that is REALLY heavy.” He looked rather freaked out and said it again, adding “I won’t be able to sleep tonight.” Phil, in an effort to soften my blunt statement adds, “Don’t worry, you’re still young. You have time.” The young man shook his head. “No, you are right. I am twenty-eight years old and I have been smoking for fifteen years. I need to think about quitting, but it’s hard.”
I told him, “I know it’s hard – I used to smoke too until I was a couple of years older than you are now. You can do it, you just have to get yourself in the right place mentally.” He smiled and said, “Yeah,” than shook his head again. “Man, that was really heavy.” I replied, “I know, but it was said with love. I really hope you will start working towards quitting. God bless you.” “Thanks,” he replied as he turned to walk towards the door, obviously still freaked out.
Phil looked at me and shook his head. Only you would do something like that. “Hey, I know Fran (my sister) is laughing and cheering me on from heaven,” I replied. You see – her last years on earth suffering from COPD were very difficult to watch. The last time I held her hands while she was on hospice she told me she wanted me to share her story because by her sharing it, she might save someone else’s life. Maybe in a random encounter in Walgreens, she just did…