I was picking up food for John and I the other night from Penn Station. I walked in, ordered my food, gave them my name, and then waited beside the counter for it to be ready. I almost gave them Charlie's name instead of my own because I sometimes just want to hear it. I didn't this time and immediately regretted my decision. There was this awful heart ache that just had me wishing I had given them his name so I could hear it. I wished so badly that someone would just say it. I looked around and was literally yelling in my head, "Someone say it! Someone remember him!" I held back tears and continued to wait for my food.
This is the "crazy" that comes along with all this. When I look most normal, I am probably my most broken. I am compensating. I am overly happy and/or overly 'ok' so no one notices that anything is wrong because who stands in Penn Station and talks to themselves or even better yells (in their head) at the other customers about their child that is no longer here?
As I think about it now, literally no one in Penn Station (of all four people) knew me or knew Charlie. It would have been a miracle if someone said his name. It would have been completely random and completely unexpected if someone asked me about Charlie. It would have had to be a God thing because absolutely NOTHING was lending itself to this topic of conversation and I didn't give them his name.
So I stood there and in walked Penn Station's next customer in a cowboy hat and the person God placed in my path that day to say Charlie's name out loud. We stood next to one another both now waiting for our food to be ready and he looked over after staring at my Charlie bracelet and said, "Are you Charlie?"
I am not sure what my face looked like. I'm not sure I want to know, because all I could think was, "Did that really just happen?" I knew he saw my bracelet. He was looking at it and for some reason was curious enough to ask me who Charlie was. I told him that it was my son's name. He then asked, "How old is he?" I explained that he passed away in July. I didn't want to make him uncomfortable so I tried to smile through the tears. He said, "Oh I'm so sorry." I told him it was fine and actually confided in this complete stranger that I love when people say his name and that he made my day.
So to make this weird story short, I just want to say thank you. Thank you man in the cowboy hat that picked up dinner at Penn Station on Sunday. Thank you for saying Charlie's name. Thank you for smiling at me. You may have thought you made that moment more difficult for me but you were the one that finally made me smile. So thank you.