“There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind.
The second way is to be kind.
The third way is to be kind.”
—— Fred Rogers
The third and final of the three stories that my Thursday evening shift at work inspired, is not about a passenger, or a coworker. It’s about me. Of course in the end, all my stories are about me.
After dropping off the woman in the story from yesterday’s post and the other passenger I’d picked up on the way, I headed for my last pickup of the evening. I had more than a half an hour to stand by at the location, and another driver was waiting for a passenger who’s pickup was at the same time. I pulled up and when I saw who it was, I got out to chat.
This other driver is a man I have always liked and over the last few years we’ve gotten to know each other better because we now share the same evening shift. Last year he suffered the loss of a daughter (a young woman in her early twenties from whom he had been estranged for quite a while) and he had shared a lot with me before and after her death. This evening however, my friend was chatting about ideas he was having of doing things. Fun things. Things that would make him happy. He only mentioned his daughter once, and in a manner I felt to be quite healthy. It made me happy to hear him talking this way and I listened with joy. Encouraging him to continue.
Then he looked at me and said. “Have you ever had any kids Brian?”
“You’ve been married though right?”
“Yes, three times.”
“And no kids in three marriages?”
“Well… ” I looked at the time. “It’s a bit of a story.”
My friend smiled and said, “Go ahead dude. we’ve got time.”
So I shared the story of my three marriages. A story I’ve told many times to many people and with each telling, I’ve begun to feel odd about the whole thing. As if there was something I was getting out of telling this story that made it a thing I no longer wanted. As if my identity was so wrapped up in the story, I was allowing it to define me. I didn’t like that feeling so I started speeding up the telling of the story of my three marriages. The story of my three divorces. This story about my failure in love and relationship that I then realized had an element very pertinent to my friend’s recent pain. An element I rarely include in the telling of this story.
It’s the fact that my third marriage also included two abortions. I don’t usually talk about this when people ask me about my marriages because I don’t want to bring down the mood any more than it might otherwise be. But because my friend and coworker had specifically asked about if my marriages had led to any children, and since he had shared with me so much about the loss of his child, I mentioned the abortions.
However, it was now getting very near time to pick up our passengers so I had to wrap it up. We needed to get to work. My friend was looking at me with deep kindness and I felt his intention to console me. I was grateful for that. I hadn’t had time to tell him much about the abortions but I could see that that didn’t matter. It certainly didn’t matter to me.
All that mattered was how we felt and how we spoke and how we listened.
I left knowing that my friend may, or may not again ask me about this story. That it matters very little. All that matters is that we are kind to each other when we are together, in any given moment. And I am reminded that I will do better at being kind to myself as I continue to be with others… and myself. Speaking, writing… living.