This morning I got to the store early. Lydia said "Hi!" as I started to set up. Lydia... Carol is her name, but she's changing it to Lydia. I've been wanting to ask her why she's changing her name, and thought that now would be a good time to ask her. I walked into the jewelry store:
"Hi, Lydia. Hey, if you don't mind my asking, and if it's not too personal, why are you changing your name to Lydia? I'm sorry if I'm butting into something that isn't any of my business."
As it turns out, it was a very personal question, but she didn't even flinch. She smiled and said:
"Oh no, it's ok. I just got out of a horrible 20 year relationship, and I can't stand to have my name associated with his, so I'm changing it from Carol to Lydia." By that, I guess she meant that her first name and his last name had been associated together for so long, that she didn't want any trace of her name to be his anymore.
Then she proceeded to describe a horror movie she saw once, about how a lady had just experienced something terrible and was frantically trying to scrub herself clean in the shower. She scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, trying to get clean... not from any kind of physical dirt, but from the traumatic experience she had gone through.
"That's how I feel after this 20 year marriage," she said. "My dirvorce is final next month."
I didn't know what to say. When I qualified her possible denial of my request to know why she was changing her name as maybe being too personal, I had no idea it would be THAT personal. I stammered out something like "I'm sorry..."
She took pity on me and changed the subject by asking me why I was changing my name to Elias. I described my baptism to her... yet ANOTHER conversation that came back to that story... and the smile which erupted threatened to split her face from ear to ear.
"We need to share some fellowship then!" And she proceeded to come out from behind the counter to give me a big, heartfelt hug which lasted for about ten seconds. I was completely taken aback and overwhelmed by this completely selfless expression of camaraderie and love.
That was yesterday. This morning when I showed up at the store, Lydia came over and said this:
"What's your name again? I mean, how do I pronounce it?"
"Elias." I spoke it clearly and kind of slowly... it's a simple name, I think.
"Here, write it down for me." She produced a paper and pen. "I'm so heartbroken right now that I stammer and stutter every time I try to say your new name."
Again, I didn't really know what to say to that. I wrote it down and she smiled and waved and walked away.
Later today, I was standing here counting ceiling tiles again, and painting my nails black, when Lydia walks up:
"Yeah, I need a recharge."
"Maybe this will help!"
She proceeds to give me a great big, long hug. Smiles all around.