It had to have been two years ago. Yep, I'm going to say two years. I was starting a new school year—my first school year without Dad. Let's say I was wearing corduroy (because that's always fitting for these kinds of stories) and carrying a backpack that seemed to be far heavier than its weight in books. Shuffling into the elevator, I shoved my thumb onto the button for the 3rd floor of the JFSB. I was probably staring apathetically at the doors, as we are all wont to do in elevators (especially those of us with heavy backpacks and heavier hearts). I sighed. I'm sure I did. I sighed in that world-weary kind of way. I ignored all the other people sighing and staring apathetically. People crowded in from the second floor, and I scuffed the toe of my shoe into the ground to avoid making eye contact with the newcomers. I looked back up, ready to resume the blank stare of being in transit. Maybe that's when I noticed it. A little message etched in the panel just underneath the floor numbers, next to an emergency button:
Help is on the way.
For the remainder of the semester, I often thought about this seemingly cosmic message reminding me that I wouldn't suffer alone. (For long.) It was easy to forget it once I'd exited the sliding doors and proceeded to scurry to my next class, but each and every elevator excursion reminded me anew. It was like I'd been transported to 3rd grade rather than the 3rd floor, opening my lunch box to find an encouraging Post-It note from my mother. (You can do it!, I'm thinking about you, Have a great day, I love you, et al.)
On more than one occasion, I was tempted to press that emergency button—you know, see if help really was on the way. Panting and breathless from their speedy response to my call, the emergency personnel would ask me what was wrong.
Well... I just needed some help, I guess. Do you know anything about fixing broken people? ... Oh. Okay. I didn't think so.
Still. It was comforting nonetheless to know that help was just a button away. Theoretically.
I always thought about writing a blog about that much-needed message of grace, so strangely stamped in the oddest of places. I never did because... I wouldn't know what to say. Nothing's changed, I guess, except that I've come to grips with the fact that I won't always know what to say. And that's okay. (Right?) I just needed to blurt this out before I forget about my elevator encouragement.
I started taking the stairs this semester.