Behind the facade

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I turned my head to her. Her shoulder length blond hair had started turning grey. Her light-blue eyes focused on some point in the front. She must be pretty when she was young, some of the beauty still remained in her. A subtle elegance. She was driving, her face looked soft and relaxed.

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I did not quite fit in when I started working in the department. Being introduced as some new blood in the team with a solid educational background, I was excited and eager to contribute to the development and reconstruction of the organisation. My enthusiasm, however, was met with some doubt from a few colleagues who had been working in the department for years. They certainly had valuable experiences, they knew the systems and structures. We employed different methods and I was not always on excellent terms with them. She was amongst the more experienced staff.

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It was an autumn evening, we both worked overtime to meet our deadlines. When we were about to leave, it was pouring out there, the sky turned grey. It all felt heavy.

– Can I give you a lift? We are heading in the same direction.

I was hungry and exhausted after hours of calculation and analysis. Feeling a little surprised and touched, I said yes and thanked her for the thoughtfulness.

The car was not parked far away from the building. I opened the door on the passenger side and jumped in.

– It must be tough to balance a full-time job with three kids, she said without turning her head to me.

– Oh yeah, I really struggle sometimes. How many children do you have, they must be grown-ups now. I said casually.

– I have two or I used to. My son was killed in a car accident six years ago. She said quietly.

The heart sank. Do not get too emotional. A voice inside me said.

– It is very sad. I am sorry to hear about it. I did not turn my head to her this time.

The regrets sneaked in, I should have been more understanding to her. I should have showed her more kindness and compassion.

– It is fine. This is the way life is. She said.

– You are very tough. It must be hard to have to go through this loss.

– The bell rang that night, I went to open the door finding a priest standing out there in the darkness. I got it. Of course I got it instantly. He was planning to move to the newly refurbished flat with his girlfriend, my son. It was supposed to be their home. They were moving together. They were about to start a new life.

– I only had two children, now I have one, my daughter. She was pregnant with twins at that time, in her third trimester. She gave birth to two lovely babies shortly after. It sort of took away some of the pain, the loss. I made myself to think this way, I lost a son but I got two grandchildren. The twins made up for the loss, or they made this loss possible to tackle.

– When life turns its back on you and you cannot change it. You just accept it and move on, what else can you do? You do not have alternatives.

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The car reached my house, I hugged her quickly and jumped out of the car. She should not see the tears.

I read a quote some time ago, cannot remember who said it. It goes like this:

Treat everyone you meet with kindness, you never know what they have been through. Be kind and smile.

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Thank you for reading, take care.

With love,

Isabelle ❤️

(Photos taken in Oslo and Stockholm, autumn 2017)

Author: Isabelle

I am Isabelle and I live with my family in Oslo, Norway. I have three children, a girl and two boys. My educational background: Bachelor of International Marketing. Bachelor of English Language. I am currently doing my master's in English Language at University of Oslo. Interests: Language, literature, running, yoga and travelling

44 thoughts on “Behind the facade”

    1. I agree with you. Instead of being judgemental, we should be kind and tolerant. Thank you Roberto. Appreciate it a lot. It doesn’t seem to be time difference between Italy and Norway. Wishing you a good week!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Neil. It is important to be reminded of this – kindness.
      Just had a look at your site, a new post was published without my notice. Will check out shortly. I don’t like to miss out your posts.

      Have a good week.

      Isabelle

      Liked by 1 person

  1. People do judge based on our reactions and behaviour. It’s baseless trying to make others understand your side of the story. Those who have empathy and accept others are the best kind of people.
    Good read !!
    Have a great week ahead !!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh God. Yes. I’ve been in the same situation. There are no words. This is something I try to remember as often as I can. We never, ever know what the person we are speaking with has been through. Kindness is everything. Thank You for such a vulnerable, true reminder. It sounds like You were lovely. She had to have known how deeply it touched You. Lord. Sending Huge Hugs Your way. 💖

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Katy. In this world we all have our challenges, we have good days and days which feel like a mess. It’s certainly easier to be kind when we have our good days and when we’re treated well and with respect. It’s much more challenging to keep kindness in mind when we’re in a mess ourselves or are treated unfairly by others. I think it’s in the latter case that keeping a positive and kind attitude becomes paramount. It’s in these uncomfortable situations that we should remind ourselves of being kind and tolerant, and we should remind us that we’re all the same human beings, we never know what other people have gone though, the pain and loss. Hugs in return ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh…that is SOOOO true, Isabelle. I had not worked retail since my teenage years and find myself doing it part time now. I had no idea how absolutely strange it is. I’ve been on the receiving end of some absolutely awful behavior. I know we all have! But I am provided with lots of opportunities to practice compassion in this way. I’ve gotten much better at not taking people personally. At knowing there is a reason one behaves unkindly. Some days I sail through with lots of love and kindness and on others I feel like it’s my first day of kindergarten at the school of compassion and I’ve been held back about 8 million times!!! 🤣 Your post reminded me of when I first started working there. I was trying to figure out what to say to people as I rung them up. We are a very friendly store and I’d decided to simply ask people, if they were visiting, what brought them here. One of the first people (who actually was a very sweet lady to begin with!) just flat out told me that her sister was dying and she had come to say goodbye. They did’t want to have the family together at the funeral….they wanted to do it while there was still time so she could see everyone. By the end of the conversation we all were crying and hugging and…..Lord. But….we never, ever, ever know what the other person is carrying-working through-struggling with-trying to run away from……sigh. I’ve always felt this planet was literally a classroom. So many of the Masters say it and that rings so true to me. Thank You Isabelle! I have to go to the shop today and perhaps this will be a day when I remember all day! I hope You have a beautiful one! Cheer and Hugs!!! 🙂 🌸☀️🌷

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh thank you Katy for letting me know your thoughts and reflections. I worked part-time in a bakery, several cafes and restaurants when I was a student many years ago. I had different kinds of experiences during those years. Some were nice and memorable, while others were quite unpleasant and even hurtful. I think we all have to go through this. It’s life lessons. Despite those unpleasant experiences, I still think I have managed to focus on the good side of people. I think most people are kind by nature. I hope you had a good day in the shop Katy. Hope you’re happy and well. Sending you my best wishes. Hugs and hugs 😊💖

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hey Isabelle! You are so right. We do all have to go through that. It’s life. We can’t help but go through it and I’m certain there are days when I have not been as kind as I could have been! But Thank You! Yesterday at the shop was actually very fun. A nice break away from myself. I hope You had a nice day as well! Or that You’re having one!!! And I completely agree with You, most people are kind by nature. That’s my favorite thing about traveling. There are SOOOOO many kind, genuinely wonderful people all over the world and they FAR outnumber the notsokind folks!!! Huge Hugs from my very rainy corner of the world!!! 😊💖☀️

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m no exception Katy, I’m on the same boat. There’re days that I haven’t been as kind as I could have been. Especially in those occasions when I felt I was offended. Will remember to keep calm and take a step back next time. Hope you had a good day and wish you a good one tomorrow. Take care 😊💖

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s mind-blowing, sometimes, thinking about the billions of people in the world and how each has a story to tell. No matter outward appearances and no matter circumstance, each story will hold a mixture of joy and sorrow. We will never meet and know the overwhelming majority of them, but with those we do we must certainly pursue that aspiration of “[t]reat[ing] everyone you meet with kindness.” This reminds me of the suggestion from Mother Teresa to ensure that those who leave your presence leave happier than they felt before meeting you. You never know how a kind word or gesture can impact someone’s day.

    Also, I applaud your work as a mother holding a full-time job. Out of curiosity, what is your work?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fully agree. We never know what’s behind an outward appearance, we never know if a person is having a bad day or worse, suffering from pain and loss. I think about the refugees and immigrants who are sometimes portrayed negatively in the media. Before judging them and labelling them, we might need to remind ourselves of the tragedies they suffered. The traumas they went through. Then we might be able to see things in a different perspective. Yes be kind to everyone you meet. You never know how a kind word or gesture can impact someone’s day. You said it beautifully.

      I was into economy/accounting, I’m currently doing my Master’s in English language, planning to switch to the language profession after the Master Thesis is done.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, this concept of being kind to everyone and in every context is extremely difficult. There’s a difference between being kind and weak. However, being kind and non-judgemental should remain the principle I think. Thank you Aixa!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It made deep impression that evening. Very sad. It appears in my mind from time to time, had been thinking of putting it on paper for some time now. So I did it. It reminds me of the harshness of life, yes life could be so unfair and harsh. It reminds me of the importance of being kind and tolerant. It reminds me of taking a step back even if I’m treated unfairly/offended (not always easy). Yes be kind. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A mother is always a mother no matter the age of her child. And to lose your child…. How tenderly you wrote this Isabelle. I feel the quietness in the moment. Her trust in sharing. How many times had she done so before and did it hurt differently every time. I hope you are well. Please take care, suzanne ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Suzanne! I no longer work in the organisation but I remember that the tone between us changed a bit after that. More attentive, understanding and supportive. And we shared our humorous sense and laughed together. You’re right Suzanne, a mother is alway a mother no matter the age of her child. What I was told made a deep impression at that moment, I was emotionally affected because I am a mother myself. I felt the pain of the loss of a child instantly, there were no words for it. I’m well thank you Suzanne. The sun is up after days of grey sky. I’m at the campus working now. I hope all is fine with you too. Do take care. Isabelle 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can imagine how all would be enhanced. 😌 moments such as that send you flying to children for a hug or a text if they’re away… I am a mother too. My children are quite grown but they will always be my little ones in my heart. I’m happy to hear that you’re well and have had sun! I have sun after several gray days too. It is a joy and I’ve had to force myself inside 😅 when I would just like to be out there pondering. But, there is always something to be done. Thank you, you too Isabelle 😊❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know Suzanne, my mother treats me as if I was a teen. She gives me a ring asking me to put on more clothes when it’s snowing, to carry an umbrella when it’s raining, to get som decent food when I work long hours. The list is long 😁 Good you got some sun, the weather was wonderful today. The snow keeps melting. The birds singing in the morning and the sun doesn’t withdraw until 08.00 pm. All good signs! Wishing you a good day tomorrow, perhaps a nice walk in the woods with your lovely dogs 😊❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s really hard to move on after something bad happens. but with love and support even from strangers can do a lot with healing the pain. We may not know everybody’s story but we should definitely be at our best behavior with all. You never know when you can heal someone’s pain…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fully agree. A kind and supportive smile or a few attentive words could mean a lot to someone who is going through a hard process. It could warm the heart and bring back some hope. Thank you so much for letting me know your thoughts and reflections. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Isabelle. We never know how to show to other our compassion mainly because we don’t know how hard it is. In fact, I’ve noticed that only people who have been through the same problem understand it and they know how to answer. In fact, nobody can imagine the suffering of such loss and that’s why we don’t know really what to do. We say sorry for your loss and they know immediately that you don’t know what you are speaking about. But I think that the right thing is to take their hand, looking at their eyes, and telling them how sorry you are. Our eyes are the door to our souls and nothing can happen if you don’t open this door to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking time to read the post and leave me the comment Antonio. Appreciate a lot! You’re right, the pain people are suffering is unmeasurable. What I know is it must be tremendous. I can hardly bear thinking of it. The loss.

      Like

  7. “Most people are kind by nature” I don’t agree with that statement. Most people are nice because they are being taught to be nice, to respect others, to be tolerant… Without the rules and laws, human beings are not nice at all but wild as any animal.

    Liked by 2 people

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