Just so you know.
This story is not a reference to the famous Jim Carrey movie by the same name.
Although I must confess I am somewhat disappointed that Cameron Diaz never returned my calls.
Maybe she’s not a big reader or attracted to authors, it happens.
But like I said earlier, this story doesn’t have anything to do with comedy or overly made up outlandish characters. It’s also not a story about government mandates.
This story isn’t a comedy it’s about real life.
You may not beware of this about yours truly, but once a week, I read all my book “fan” email, both good and bad and I answer every single one of them.
It’s something that I feel is important to do.
Mostly I get encouraging words about the new book, “Over Easy”, how much they enjoyed it and what stories they enjoyed the most etc. Typically, I will respond with thanking them for taking the time to write me and I also thank them for purchasing the book.
This past week, I had nearly four hundred emails to answer and with “Doc” The World Famous Black Lab snoozing near me on the love seat, I went to work.
I was somewhere near the three hundredth email, when I opened one email, that had a very attractive young lady’s picture in the email icon. She had blonde hair, looked to be about in her late twenties and she was smiling in the picture.
Her name is Kate and this is what her email said.
“Thank you so much for your book, It means so much to me. My mother got it for me. You have no idea how much it has helped me.
I broke from my usual responses and thanked her for her kind words, and I added some humor to say, “Be careful, it’s not written as a self-help book.” I also added that she was a beautiful young lady and “to keep smiling.”
I hit “send” on the email to Kate and moved on to answer the next email.
I responded to a couple of more emails, when a new email popped up from Kate.
I stopped what I was doing, and opened her email and began to read it.
This is what her email said.
“Thank you, but I don’t look like that anymore. I was in a car accident in October and my life changed. When I was recovering, your book saved my life. I want to thank you for that.
That email that touched my heart. I can’t really describe it.
But I responded to Kate by saying some encouraging words for her recovery and thanking her again for her kind words. I hit send on the email, and immediately received a response back from Kate.
She asked me for a favor, she asked me “IF” I could call her. She wrote that she understood if I couldn’t call, because famous people like me are busy and don’t have time to call people they don’t know.
She even apologized for asking me fi I could call her.
Her email, went on to say that she just wanted to thank me, and to tell me how important the book is too her and “why” it’s so important.
I asked for her phone number, got an immediate response and I called her.
It seems weird for me to write this, but when she answered the call, and I identified who I was, you would have though Elvis had comeback to life.
Kate screamed for her mother, asked if she could put me on speaker and kept saying over and over,
“I can’t believe YOU called me!” and “It’s really HIM!”
I thanked Kate for taking my call and attempted to make a joke how I don’t have the opportunity to talk to too many young attractive ladies anymore. That’s when she said, “I don’t look like that anymore.” Her mother chimed in to thank me for calling Kate and then we started talking, just Kate and I.
Kate lives with her mom and dad in Roanoke Virginia and she is twenty five years old.
She had tried community college a couple of times, and had worked as a cashier at a local grocery store.
But that wasn’t for her, so she went to cosmetology college and thought she had found her calling.
She had a boyfriend and they were in love and she had, as all pretty girls do, lots of friends.
Kate was due to graduate this past December from cosmetology college and already had a job lined up.
Everything was going great for her, there was even talk that her boyfriend might “pop the question” at Christmas.
That was until a Sunday in October.
She was coming home from church when an oncoming vehicle crossed the center lane and struck her drivers side door in a violent collusion that forced both vehicles off the road in a heap of twisted metal.
The fire department had to use the jaws of life to extricate Kate from her vehicle.
Kate was in the hospital for weeks, she can’t remember how long.
She lost most of her left leg and is waiting on her “fake leg” and she hopes it will help her get around.
Kate also lost her left eye.
She said that due to being immobile she gained a lot of weight.
I could tell that her speech was strained and she added that she forgets “stuff” sometimes and she has trouble speaking and putting thoughts into words.
Her boyfriend left her, because she said, “I wasn’t the pretty girl anymore.”
Those friends of hers deserted her too. They got busy and couldn’t come by to visit or call her.
Before I could provide some encouraging words, Kate said,
“I thought about killing myself a lot.”
“But then my momma gave me your book and it saved my life, I enjoy it so much.”
All I had was to make the same joke that I wrote to her earlier about that “It isn’t a self-help book.”
Kate said, “well, it sure helped me. I was ready to die, but then momma gave me your book. Thank you.”
I have never had a phone call quite like this, ever. I didn’t know what to say.
What can you say to that?
I thanked her for her kind words and I said something to the effect that “She’s still beautiful.”
What she said next, stunned me. In more ways than one.
Kate said, “I use that old picture of me on my email and on my Facebook page. I know it’s not really honest, because I don’t look like that anymore and never will again. But it’s my mask. I wear that mask to protect myself.” Then she added this very important point, “I think everybody hides behind a mask.”
I agreed with her, more than I could say, I agreed with her and I told her so too.
Then she said that she has to get another “fake eye” because the one she has isn’t very good.
I recovered my bearing somewhat and asked her to send me a picture of how she looks with her fake eye and for whatever reason that made her laugh and I could hear her mother laugh in the background too. That good kind of laugh. The laugh that is filled with joy.
I reminded Kate to just be herself and not to worry about what others think about her.
She giggled and said she would “try” to do that and she said my call encouraged her, she said that she had never talked to anyone famous before.
What am I supposed to say to that?
I decided to tell her, that she was right about people wearing masks, I told her that I wore one too.
I told her that everybody has a “fake eye” whether they want to admit or not.
She wanted to know what I meant by my comment.
I told her that we all have a blind spot and some of us, choose to ignore it.
Blind spot to ourselves, to what we sometimes say and things we do.
Sometimes we are blind to our circumstances or to those around us.
She said she had never thought about it quite like that.
We talked some more about her recovery and when she hoped to return to cosmetology college.
I told her that I would stay in touch with her, just to check on her progress.
Kate and her mom thanked me yet again for calling and for taking time out of my day for them.
I asked her permission to write a story about her. That caused more squeals and shouts of joy.
She wanted to know “why” I would write something about her, because she wasn’t special.
I assured her and her momma that she was special and much wiser than she thinks and I wanted to write about her courage, honesty and about a couple of things she said to me earlier.
I could have said a couple of other things.
But you see, that would require me to remove my own mask.
We exchanged good-byes and I promised to check in on Kate.
I don’t want to talk about what she said about my book and how it helped her.
That’s between she and I.
But I will tell you this, that little girl has a hell of a lot more courage than I do.
She has the courage to be honest. To admit that she sometimes hides behind a mask.
She has the courage to admit that she has a fake eye.
I can’t admit that I wear a mask, that I am blind to things that I should see.
I will tell you something else. I am not alone either.
I know people that hide their pain of rejection and loneliness behind a mask of smiles.
I have known some people that were in terrible relationships that made them miserable.
They hid it all behind a mask and a smile.
I thought a lot about the courage of Kate, her honesty.
Her entire life changed in the flash of an instant. She lost so much in that instant.
Yet, she can still be positive, honest.
I know she will recover from her injuries.
Because you can’t have that kind of grit and courage and it not result in something good. This I know.
One other thing, I need to take my own mask off and stop hiding behind it, well, at least occasionally.
Maybe you need to take your mask off too. Let people see the real you.
It could be that you need to call somebody and tell them that you love them, that you forgive them.
Or maybe just apologize about some long ago disagreement.
Maybe tell someone that you are hurting, that you are having a tough time.
I don’t know about you.
But I need to stop being blind to some things in my life, like my habitual mask wearing for starters.
Maybe you need to do the same thing.
I wrote this for Kate. For her courage, but more importantly for her stark honesty that made me examine myself and to look at all those things I hide behind my mask. To see those things I have purposely been blind to around me.
I still don’t know exactly how my book has helped her through her ongoing ordeal.
But I know she sure encouraged me in more ways than one.