Yesterday I met a ray of light. 

She calls herself Mary. 

She’s in her early 20’s, shoulder length two-toned wavy hair, black eyeliner that starts at the center of her eye and extends far outside her eyelid, thick false black eyelashes, quick to smile, thin, tall and beautiful. 

Hank and I are on a road trip. We were somewhere In the middle of nowhere Texas and were hungry and irritable. Our phones were dead and the auxiliary system I normally used to charge our batteries wasn’t working. 

We needed food and we needed a portable battery. 

And that’s how we met Mary, at the Texas Smokehouse a.k.a Texas version of the Cracker Barrel chain. 

There she was, a beacon of “different” at that check out counter, somewhere between Tyler and Midland, Texas. 

As she was ringing up our items, Hank noticed the small tattoo across her very small, delicate and pale wrist. 

“What’s your tattoo say?”

She blushed a little I think. 

“Broken.” She paused for a moment and looked at me and Hank. I think she saw us and recognized that we were open to more and so she continued. 

“It’s to remind me that nothing can ever keep me down. As bad as things can be, have been or will be, nothing can break me because I am already broken and it’s okay.”

Hank and I stood there for a moment…a kind of respectful silence to indicate that we heard her…really heard her. 

Hank then showed him the tattoo he had across his hand. 

“Mine is kind of like that. It reads “Be a light that never goes out.”

I remember when Hank got that tattoo. He was struggling, drifting and I was wondering if I might lose him altogether to the darkness. It was one of his first ones and I remember being concerned that it fell across the most visible part of his hand and fingers.  

I’m thinking now that maybe it was there for a moment such as this. 

I paid for the battery and said, “Sometimes hitting rock bottom is one of the greatest gifts we can get.”

“Yes!” She said enthusiastically. 

We talked a little more about spirituality, tattoos, growing up, bring broken and being whole and then someone came up in line behind us. 

I think we could’ve talked with Mary all afternoon there in somewhere Texas.