I was reading my journal from 10 years ago and came across a chance meeting I'd nearly forgotten. It's been years since I have thought about Angelica. Funny I never knew her last name. I met her in a bakery I was managing 10 years ago. She was in her late 50's maybe early 60's.
Today when I met Angelica, her demeanor seemed a little unsettled.
She started to talk to me about bread. Angelica told me about the bakery around the corner from her home and the wonderful French bread they baked. We instantly connected and started chatting about different breads, the textures of breads, the way that different breads taste and smell.
There was something in her voice, maybe the tone, maybe the accent, but I asked her where she was from. "New Orleans" was her reply.
My heart froze. What could I possibly say to this woman? It's been just 5 days since hurricane Katrina basically leveled and then covered New Orleans in water.
"New Orleans? How is your family?" I stuttered. That's when Angelica began to spill her story all over my heart. "I am a blessed woman," is how she began her story. "I was up here on a business trip when the hurricane hit my home." I stood there shell shocked. She seemed so calm.
"I heard from my daughter yesterday. She reached Atlanta. The company she works for put her up in a hotel and transferred her to an Atlanta office. She's going back to work tomorrow. I know that may seem too soon, but it will help her focus on the future."
"Any other family?" My voice just trailed off. In my head I could hear my brain scream, "Why are you asking this question?"
"I got a call from my mother just this afternoon. She is in Texas and is safe. We decided to relocate to the Kansas City area. We have nothing to go home to. From watching the news, our home is under 20 feet of water."
As I stood there with nothing to say, Angelica smiled and said, "Thank you for listening." I replied, "I'm glad I was here to listen. Anytime you need to talk, please come back. I'll be glad to listen."
As she picked up her bag to leave, she repeated the she was a blessed woman. I knew that I was blessed for having met her that day.
Angelica became a regular in my bakery. When she wasn't out of town on business she would stop in for bread and a conversation. Each time she came in she would seek me out to talk. We'd catch up on the goings on in life. Every time she left she would give me a hug and tell me how blessed she was. I was always blessed by her.