To the three women in the Walmart parking lot:
Admittedly, it wasn’t my finest moment. I was terrified and my mind was full of images that still bring tears to my eyes. I was the epitome of the Scaredy Cat I wrote about the other day. I had taken a fear and ran with it. I wasn’t composed. I wasn’t using my inside voice.
I was freaking out.
You see, moments before, my nine year old had asked to return the cart we were using to the cart corral, about 5 car lengths further down the aisle. As he walked away I called out:
“Walk. Watch for cars. And don’t bump any cars with the cart.”
They floated on the air towards him. The same air carried the obligatory “I will” back to me.
I could see him out the side window as I buckled his little brother into his car seat.
I glanced up to see two of you getting into your car next to me. You were laughing and talking.
When I looked up again a moment later as I was fastening the last buckle, I saw a few things at once.
- My son was returning to the car, running (running!) behind the parked cars.
- Your car’s engine was running. The lights were on. You were ready to pull out.
- There was another vehicle parked in the space next to your vehicle. You would be unable to see my son until you moved.
Suddenly there was a voice I didn’t recognize – piercing. Shrill.
It was my voice. It sounded strange in my ears and made my throat hurt.
There were confused looks and sudden stopping.
There was a voice behind me. “Are you OK?”
It was said with kindness. In a blur, I turned to see you, the third woman, with your two little ones circling about you. “So many heart attacks. So little time.”
I realize now that I didn’t answer you. I stood there with my breath coming in gasps and my hand on my heart. I could not form words.
I shakily mouthed, “Sorry” to the two of you in the car. You both smiled back at me.
Through the fog, I returned to our car and sat down. I heard my boys asking if I was OK and repeated assurances from my oldest “It’s OK, Mom. I’m OK.” My tears started to flow as I tried to shake the whatcouldhavehappened images from racing through my mind.
I am writing this to you to say what was not in my power to say in those moments:
To the woman who offered me kindness and solidarity in my moment of panic – even though I likely scared you and your children – thank you for checking if I was OK and for letting me know that you understood that childhood exuberance and parking lots can make a terrifying combination.
And to the women in the car: I saw so clearly the horror unfolding – my nightmare - and I just wanted to stop it. I apologized, but I did not thank you.
Allow me to say it now.
Thank you for hearing me – and thank you for stopping.
Kim, AKA The Screamer in the Parking Lot
Have you ever had a parking lot nightmare?