What if I had just looked up?

Yesterday was a really fun and exciting day for me. I'll give you more details later about that, but for now they aren't important. All that matters is that I'm skipping to my car in the parking deck. Okay, so maybe not actually skipping. Let's get real. I start to skip and things start moving that take hours to settle down. But I was having one of those delicious moments in life when the winter-gray slush-covered world around you bursts into sparkling color and you want to spin and throw your arms around and laugh into the sky like they do in all those stock photos and Metamucil commercials.  I didn't even mind that the only space I could find to park was on the third floor. I was in my own world, completely oblivious to the people bustling around me.

I'm in a line of drivers exiting the parking deck when I see the flashing lights and yellow tape. And the body. There, blocking our path out of the parking deck and onto the street, was a bundled up man lying face down in the snow covered street. My world turned into slow motion as I watched people run up with blankets and stop as the policeman shook his head and without words indicated that it was too late. And sitting there in my warm car, I watched them cover his body with a sheet, not even six feet away from me while a group of strangers hung their heads in a universal moment of compassion. All I could think was that somewhere his wife and children were enjoying the snow day, with no idea of how their lives were about to change. It was a quiet sobering ride home. I couldn't get the image out of my head of him lying there on the street.

This morning I'm sitting in my happy warm house surrounded by the smells and sounds of the life I have created, scanning the online news for word of this stranger who left the world yesterday. I finally found him on page three, in a tiny article beside an ad for tires. And I read of how he had jumped to his death from the third floor of the parking deck. Right where I was parked. While I'm spinning around in the deliciousness of my life, another man is standing on a ledge.

Did I pass him in that parking deck? Was he perhaps standing only a few feet away from me?  Could I have somehow made a difference with a kind word or a smile when he needed it most? My life is filled with encounters of people I meet – people I share a powerful moment with. Why couldn't I have crossed paths with him? Maybe I could have made a difference. Or maybe I had the chance, and didn't see it. What if he was right there within the sound of my voice?

Good-bye stranger. Rest in peace. I'm sorry I didn't look up.




Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
To book motivational speaker Kelly Swanson:
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  1. Kelly, in my heart of hearts I believe your paths would have crossed if that was the divine plan. What you so eloquently left us with is the nudge to be grateful for every day we're blessed to experience while reminding us to grab another's hand while we skip.

  2. That's beautiful, Colette. Thank you. I can't stop thinking about him, and I have been feeling something. Not sure if it was guilt. But this sense of sadness that he was so close and maybe…….but you're right. It wasn't in the divine plan. 

  3. Oh wow, Kelly, thank you on so many levels for this one. I must agree with Colette that we can never ever know what "might have been" if we'd only left earlier, missed that traffic light or…looked up.  What we want to believe could have made a positive difference, could, in fact, have turned out to further complicate things. There is one thing that is unequivocal. YOU will always be looking for where the Divine needs you. And you will answer that call. That's who you are! And thank you for so beautifully reminding me to pay attention.


  4. My hand flew up to my heart as I read your story, Kelly. This just brings to our attention that people in the car next to us at the light or behind us in the checkout lane all have their own story that we are oblivious to.  Unless they reach out we'll never know if we can be of service.  Your experience reminds us to honor each day and honor each other.

  5. It's hard to add more to what our fellow bloggers already wrote. But, let me add how beautiful this piece is, to remind us that we need to look up more often. It also reminds us that we are not in control of others either. Thank you for sharing this. 

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