To the Lady in the Grocery Store Who Approached Me When I Felt Numb to Life

Dear Lady in the Grocery Store,

I’m not sure if you remember, but six years ago you told me I was beautiful. You approached me in the produce aisle with a smile and commented generously on my complexion and features. You went out of your way to share kind words, and I am forever thankful for that brief moment we exchanged.

Earlier that day I had been released from my first hospital stay due to complications of my newly-diagnosed Crohn’s disease. At the lowest point in my life, I was struggling to keep a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I had not yet processed the unexpected turn my life was about to take because of my illness; I was focused so intensely on my pain and suffering that I had not entertained a positive thought in weeks. I felt like a zombie… actually, I didn’t really feel anything at all.

I was numb to life around me. My mind was consumed with new medical terms and names for medications accompanied by so many side effects that the thought of it kept me up at night. I was losing friends and hobbies left and right and subconsciously pushed my loved ones away because I was so overwhelmed. I felt guilty, burdensome, defeated and sentenced to a new life I did not ever envision for myself. I had forgotten how important it is to be kind to others, let alone be kind to myself.

When you gave me that small, superficial compliment, I snapped out of my dreadful funk. At a time where my life was really ugly, you made me feel beautiful. I was reminded that the little things in life, like compliments from a stranger, are powerful enough to lift a person’s mood and refocus one’s energy onto that which is affirmative and uplifting. There are nice people in this world willing to make others feel special, whether intentionally or not.

young woman sitting up smiling in hospital bed
Ashley at the hospital

From that day on, I started making a conscious effort to elicit joy from life more freely and frequently. All it takes is one sincere comment, action or event to remind a person that life really isn’t so sad after all. I smile when the weather is nice, am excited when my favorite song comes on the radio, and feel cheerful if the person in front of me holds the door open. Sometimes I just need a little extra boost to get back on track to positivity.

I cannot remember what you looked like, Supermarket Lady, but all that matters is that I remember how you made me feel. You taught me how important it is to be nice to others, to go out of my way to make sure a nice thought is shared with a friend or stranger. One can never know what a person is going through, and when a simple gesture can have such a meaningful impact, the effort is worthwhile.

Six years later and I still make sure to help others the way you helped me that day. Thank you for being thoughtful. I am mindfully grateful for small acts of kindness and I carry the impact you had on me in a special place in my heart.



Follow this journey on Ashley Esper.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


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