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An Empathetic Hand

A young woman I was in love with for years was sexually abused when she was young. When the time came to help her power through that, I did. Her mom had still been married to the gentleman responsible (not aware of the abuse). I convinced her to tell her mother, and it caused a rift between them, I am sad to report. She didn’t believe her daughter. This threw my former partner even further into depression. It was a tragedy to be so close too.
My boss and I were able to discuss the issue and he recommended her to a therapist. Upon their First session, the woman contacted C.P.S. the guy bailed the state he was a resident in and disappeared to our knowledge. As difficult as this all was, I wouldn’t have given up that shared part of our life for anything. The emotional damage wrought was tremendous, and whole nights would be spent, just letting her scream and be mad. Cry, and fall into despair. I watched this poor girl fall apart and all I could do was hold and console her. Try to build her back up every time I saw a portion of the wall fall down, I would very attentively do my best to pick of the pieces and mend them back into their place as best of my capabilities.
My shoulder damp, and eyes black and baggy from weeks spent just holding her whilst she cried until 8, or sometimes 9 in the morning. Years of pent up pain being exorcised. All night long and there was nowhere I would have rather been.
This went on for months and though we didn’t stay together, I will never regret being there for her. I pray to God that I helped make a difference. I pray that whatever amount of love I was able to pour into her was enough to pull her through that and help initiate the healing process. You never realize what life can do to people until you see the worst that can happen. All we need in moments of extreme morose and distress is an empathetic hand to hold ours and walk us through the darkness. We all need one at some point in our lives and I am just glad I was able to fulfill my part when the time came. With any luck she can pass it on when the right opportunity arises (which I know she will).

Aaron Drake

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An Ear Can Be The Best Therapist

I always feel needed when I help my buddy out. He is going through a rough time, unemployed, a bad break up, just down in the dumps. When he needs anything, I let him call or text me when he is feeling overwhelmed cause I know he doesn’t like to be alone. I know he isn’t feeling the best and I’m just glad I can be there for him. I get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and all I am doing is something as simple as talking. It is literally one of the easiest things you could do, and it is awesome how much it helps. We all do it every day and don’t consider how necessary and healthy it is.
It makes me feel fulfilled because all it is volunteering my ear. No money spent, no long hours at a shelter. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, it just shows how easy it really is. All you gotta do sometimes is to talk and listen to someone you know is going through a rough time. Makes them feel cared about and not so alone, and it makes you feel wanted/needed and we all want that to a certain degree. Helping others in a way helps you as much as it does them. All it takes is a little effort and some care.

Michael Chasey, Helena Montana

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Dead Truck on York Road

One time on York Road, my brother’s truck battery died and it was negative twelve outside, at midnight. He had forgotten to plug his truck in and the cold weather drained his battery. I had remembered to plug in my truck and kept my battery charged. He called me and woke me up so I left immediately because it was snowing and such a cold night. I was able to make it to him pretty fast and used my jumper cables and charged his battery.
He gave his thanks and I was just glad he could get a hold of somebody before he got too cold. The temperature was dropping fast so I am glad I was able to get his heat back on and he could go home safe a sound. I felt good after doing it and went to sleep happy knowing I helped someone and that someone would do it for me.

Roy “Boo” Lowry, Helena, Montana

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Dead Battery

It was zero degrees on Sunday morning as I headed to the gym. Snowflakes drifted in the morning sun.

Coming down the hill on the icy road, I saw a tall young man standing by his car, hood up. He looked at me almost plaintively, gently waiving jumper cables. Dead battery.

I slowed carefully to avoid skidding, then pulled carefully to just in front of his car and popped the hood of my ’96 Pathfinder.

He was thankful and embarrassed at the same time. “I need to get a new battery—this is the second time this has happened since the cold hit. I hate to be late for church.”

We hooked up the cables and talked while the enough juice flowed to his battery to turn over the engine.

Born and raised here in Helena, he’d recently returned from Kalispell and was looking for work. I asked what he did for work.

“Mainly gunsmithing, but I’m looking for something in machining.” I watched him carefully, sizing him up. I liked what I heard and saw and gave him two names of friends who might be able to help.

He started his car, and I felt good heading toward the gym, grateful I’d had the chance to help someone a bit to start off the day.


Brian Kahn

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The Pope Visits New York

Lines begin at dawn,
roll miles down Seventh Avenue –
a reverent carpet to evening mass
at Madison Square Garden.

In the Times Square station
subway singers gather
by the tracks, deliver
“Ave Maria.”

The Holy Father greets the General Assembly,
9/11 rescue workers, families,
visits a shelter, school,
receives a book, a doll.

At Central Park,
eighty thousand lottery winners
stand patiently for blessings by Security,
purchase papal puppets, plushies.

Armies of multicolored hands
take aim with iPhones
at the Jeep Wrangler
bubbled with bullet-proof glass.

A street vendor from Guinea praises
the Pontiff with quotes from the Quran.
West Side Jews reread the Francis psalm
translated into Hebrew for the High Holidays.

His Holiness proclaims the unity of humanity,
integrity of creation,
preaches the revolutionary
credo – do not forget the poor —
adds, Remember also please
to pray for me.

Donna Katzin, September 25, 2015, New York City

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An Inch and a Mile

How often does a busy man, an author, a mover and a shaker, one whose kids are raised, take time for a young boy? Patient. Kind. His face, gentle and wise, watching, listening, he smiles, enjoying the boy’s joy. Explaining with unusual connection and the most appropriate detail, paired with gently-timed silence, the skills and shortcomings of each small, stately piece in the infantry. The man with his cup of coffee, the boy with his genuine Mexican hot chocolate at hand, a battle was waged and won. The youngest, the victor. The greatest reward that day? Awareness of young self and elder co-existing on the same battlefield, young self as player, as potential victor in the face of tough odds. He grew that day, an inch and a mile.

Ann Lee

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American Airlines Breaks Through the Wall

Corporations have earned a bad reputation for, among other things, losing the personal touch. Example: In the name of “efficiency” (translation: cutting jobs), they force customers needing information or assistance to talk with computerized robots: “As our menu has changed, please listen carefully to the following options…” To reach a real human being with the authority and inclination to make a difference is as rare as a frog that flies.

But yesterday something miraculous happened that made me realize that hidden behind the computerized talking wall beat caring human hearts.

Two friends, top literary agents Amy and Peter Bernstein, had been working especially hard and were heading to Italy for vacation. The morning of their afternoon flight on American Airlines, I had a crazy idea: Could they be served a celebratory in-flight bottle of champagne?

I called American and ran into the predictable impenetrable wall. Twenty irritating minutes later I decided it was hopeless. Then I thought again, “No, there had to be a way through!” On an industry website I found the name of an American Airlines executive who held what seemed a promising title. A phone call to corporate headquarters reached no one. On the second call, the wrong person answered. But that young woman kindly, generously said, “Let me try to get you through.”

“Mell” came on the line, chief assistant to the executive. “How can I help you?” There was something in her voice, the way she said those 5 words, that communicated she actually meant it.

I explained my nutty idea.

“That sounds like fun!” was her stunning reply. “Call me back in half an hour.”

When I did, she broke the bad news: AA could not sell alcohol to someone not there to drink it, so I could not buy the champagne. And then she said the unbelievable: She and AA’s Premium Service Team had decided to do it anyway!!

After initially resisting, she did agree to let me pay by making a contribution to one of AA’s endorsed charities.

At 4:45 that afternoon, American Airlines Flight 236 departed JFK for Rome. Shortly after, as the Bernsteins settled in for the long flight, a stewardess approached with a bottle of iced champagne and two stemmed glasses… Later they were served a specially ordered chocolate mousse cake.

Peter’s email on arrival read, “They treated us like royalty!”

So next time I hit the computerized wall, I will stop, take a deep breath, and remember: Hidden behind it are living beating, generous hearts. People like Mell and her teammates who, if given the chance, will extend themselves to bring happiness to a perfect stranger, a fellow human being.

Brian Kahn

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