He was there to help get me from one place to another and, after finding out what had happened, that my chair had been stolen, he understood why I was so upset. I know he wanted to do something, anything, to help my spirits, or to make a connection. He offered me apology.
I pushed back my anger.
I didn’t want his apology. He didn’t take my chair. He wasn’t responsible for it going missing. I didn’t need his apology, and even as I understood that apology was the only thing he could think to do, it only served to add fuel to the fire inside me.
The next guy offered me sympathy.
He, too, wanted to offer me something, to let me know that he understood that something big and traumatic had happened in my life. So he told me how sorry he was that this had happened to me. But, I didn’t want sympathy, I wasn’t sad. I didn’t want sympathy because it didn’t fit. It, like apology, added fuel to the furnace heating up my anxiety and pushing calm far from shore.
Then came Rosa.
She strode over to me. She listened hard to what I had to say. She listened to me talk about my present dilemma, and my worries about what happens next, what happens when I get home, what does my immediate future look like. I’d had my legs severed from my hips. I was BLEEDING.
First she offered me empathy.
She let me know that she felt with me. When she leaned down to look in my eyes, I knew she felt what I was feeling. She listened in such a way to give me permission to talk, not just about the chair and the theft but about my fears and anxieties and worries about my whole life. She said things that let me know that she was feeling with me, not for me.
Then she offered me compassion.
She allowed me to feel what I was feeling without question or comment. Her tone remained professional, but kind; she let me know that there was someone, now, involved in this crisis whose job it was to help that actually cared. Cared from the perspective of getting what this meant to me, how big it was.
Then she offered me a little bit of outrage.
This should not have happened to me. It was wrong for someone to take my chair. She was the first, and maybe the only person, who didn’t try to give the thief an excuse “They probably thought it was an airport chair.” She didn’t ask me to understand or care about the person who took my chair. She let it be known that this angered her too. Oh, how I needed to hear that.
Then she offered me a promise.
If there was a way for this chair to be found. She would find it. She would be single-minded in her determination to help me. And I believed her. I believed her because SHE had the fire in her eyes. She took the fire from my heart and lit it in her own. I didn’t believe that my chair would be found. But I believed that she would exhaust all avenues in the search for it.
When I finally left the airport, Rosa had brought me down to a place where I could function, I could think, I could talk, I could take action. She gave me back me. Chair or no, I was back in my body. Traumatized, yes. But I was back.