Jay Schryer Rotating Header Image

One Last Touch

Photo by Josep Ma. RosellI never knew her name.

She lived across the street from me, and I would see her now and then, playing with her kids, or washing her car, but we never spoke. Two cars in the driveway suggested she was married, but I never saw her husband.

Months passed, and there seemed to be nothing more to the story.

On one particularly hot day, I stopped by her kids’ lemonade stand. She was watching them from the garage, and I got the familiar nudge to go talk to her. Seriously? It’s 9000 degrees out here, and you want me to go spread my crazy? What the hell is wrong with you?!?

But it was insistent, and so I went. The kids were selling lemonade, because their dad was on his way home from deployment overseas, and they wanted to buy him a gift using their own money. More small talk. More questions, more answers…blah blah blah.

Suddenly, tears.

Sobbing uncontrollably, she took my hand into both of hers, and squeezed hard. She clung tightly while tears rolled down her face and shallow, broken breaths passed from her lips. Her kids remained blissfully unaware, and in just moments, she composed her self, and apologized.  Then the story came out in a rush.

Her husband was coming home from deployment early so that he could take care of the kids. She had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and had just months to live.

And so I comforted her as best as I could, when there is no comfort to be had. I held her hand, and shared my own experience with her, and let her talk. When it was time, I let her go and went home.

I never saw her again, because she died less than a week later.

Never pass up an opportunity to show kindness. You never know when you might be someone’s One Last Touch.



  1. Trish Scott says:

    I love that you listen to your nudges. I wish more people would. Actually I wish more people had your heart. Beautiful.

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank you, Trish. I, too, wish more people would listen to their nudges. The world would be a much kinder, gentle, loving place if they did!

  2. Chris Edgar says:

    I liked how you seamlessly wove in your inner monologue, or the yapping from the inner peanut gallery, or whatever we might call it, and also the fact that you chose not to let it guide your decisions. It’s amazing how afraid we humans can be of each other, and how much that fear prevents us from having experiences like the one you recount here.

    1. JaySchryer says:

      That’s very true, Chris. I think that the fear of other humans is one of our oldest, most primal fears. As a species, when we were still in the trees, our most dangerous enemies were snakes and spiders…which is why so many people are afraid of those things to this day. Once we left the trees, our biggest danger came from other humans…rival tribes stealing food, killing rivals, kidnapping mates. This primal fear of other humans is the basis for all racism, elitism, nationalism, etc. It also appears in more subtle ways, when it keeps us from connecting with others as you mentioned here. And, it truly does keep us from some amazing experiences.