The Huffington Post

Life Lessons

There are lessons to be learned in life, even at the grocery store.

Recently, I was shopping for groceries and thinking about everything I needed to do and accomplish. I was walking through the produce department when I stumbled upon an adorable family: a mom, dad, baby and a little girl who looked to be around four.

The little girl was running around, determined to assist her parents. She was cute as a button, picking up fruit and trying to help her family get the items they needed. She was full of spunk, wore a big smile on her face and bald.

She was bald and beautiful, this little girl wearing a shirt with a sparkly butterfly.

She was clearly going through some kind of treatment and was very thin. I kept watching her. I was drawn to her, something pulled me toward her family and I couldn’t resist approaching them and starting a conversation.

“Hi,” I said, “You’re beautiful and I want you to know, I once had your same hairstyle. And now look at my hair, it all came back.

“See,” her mom said, “It will come back. We just have to be patient.”

We smiled at one another, said our goodbyes and I continued with my grocery shopping. I was on another aisle, when all of the sudden, the same little girl ran up to me and gave me a big hug. It caught me off guard but I hugged her back. I felt her little body and her bald head.

We talked for a few moments and said our goodbyes.

I didn’t see her again but I can’t stop thinking about her.

This interaction left a deep impression on me. It made me think about my life, my blessings, my good fortune.

Life dealt her an unfair hand.

When she should have been playing with dolls and having fun with her friends, I imagine she was going to doctor appointments and treatments. When her friends were learning to read and add and subtract, she was learning that needles hurt and the side effects of what they bring to your body often hurt even worse.

Her family was being forced to face any parents worst nightmare: a sick child.

For me, it was a normal shopping trip that turned into a good reminder of life, the strength of the human spirit and the resilience of children. Instead of just getting groceries to feed my family, my interaction with this little girl in the butterfly shirt fed my soul. And while I don’t know anything about her, the specifics of her illness or her prognosis, I couldn’t help but say a little prayer for her and her family. Right there in the grocery store.

I can’t imagine how hard it is for her parents to juggle life, a baby and a sick child. But they were doing it, and doing it well. They were warm, pleasant and approachable. They smiled at me, were willing to talk and were doing the best they could with the hand that they had been dealt.

And, isn’t that all any of us can do?

It’s easy to get frustrated by the inconveniences of daily living, to get caught up in checking items off of our “to do” list and annoyed when something doesn’t go the way we want it to go. When that happens, and you start to feel yourself getting irritable, remember the little girl in the butterfly shirt. Remember her family. Remember what they’re dealing with.

Keep things in perspective.

Take the time to appreciate your health, the health of your family and all the goodness that surrounds you. Count your blessings. Open your eyes to how fortunate you are. Be grateful for all that you have. Remember the beautiful family in the grocery store. If they can walk around with a smile on each of their faces, being nice and friendly to people they encounter, so can you.

I wasn’t expecting this lesson when I walked into the grocery store, but I don’t think I’ll forget this family or our encounter.

That’s the thing about life. There are lessons and blessings all around for each of us to learn. Sometimes, you just have to open up your eyes and be willing to see and receive all that is there for the taking.

Find meaning each day,

Dara