I’d like you to meet James (he’s the one on the left).
James was outside one of my favorite coffee shops as I was leaving to start my carpool road trip. He was asking for donations. I was in a bit of a rush, but I felt the strong urge to stop and share with him.
I hurriedly put my stuff in my car, grabbed a $5 bill, and went to say hey. I handed him the $5 and asked him how his day was going. He dove right into telling me about his struggle with PTSD, how his plane got shot down during the war, and the difference between veterans of Vietnam and Afghanistan.
He had an impressive stutter, so I could only understand about 80 percent of what he shared.
I commiserated for sure though. I don’t know the veterans’ path intimately, but I’ve heard it can be really tough (understatement). I want to understand and validate everyone’s feelings and journey as much as I can. #solidarityyo
Then I told him that I struggled with PTSD as well. He didn’t seem surprised at all. He just said, “Oh yeah?”
I told him about raising an autistic child and how my husband once shared an article with me about PTSD and parents of autistic children. You can find more articles about PTSD and parenting autistic children here, here, and here (among many others).
James was as cool as a cucumber as I shared my PTSD story in less than sixty seconds. He listened intently and said with a smile, “Now to be clear, I probably had PTSD before I went to Vietnam.”
We laughed together at that and I said, “Oh, I’m sure we all have a touch of it. Every one of us.”
I enjoyed my few minutes with James. I hope to see him again at the same place outside my favorite coffee shop. There is comfort in the same smiling faces who have some of the same story as we do.
I thanked him for being there today and I let him know how happy I was to meet him. I then rushed to my car to get my children.
But wait! I realized that I wanted to remember James. I wanted to share a little piece of our connection, even after only a few minutes, so I snapped our photo that he willingly smiled for.
Because we’re all connected, dear friends, each and every one of us.
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