by Carol Sokolsky
It was almost Christmas. December 23rd. As I started my day, I felt a strong urge to drive over to Barbee’s Cookies on Memorial for a cup of snickerdoodle coffee and one of their incredible gluten free snickerdoodle cookies. Do you see a pattern here? I’m a snickerdoodle girl. When I was a little girl, my grandma made the best snickerdoodle cookies and they are probably just comfort to me. (And yes, that’s probably why I was sick so much as a little girl, because, it turns out, I’m allergic to wheat.)
Now, with all the choices for coffee and cookies in this city, why did I feel so compelled to drive over to Barbee Cookies? I’m not really sure, except I was headed out anyhow and decided, for some strong reason, that stopping at Barbee Cookies was my very first priority.
As I walked into the store, Christmas music caught my ear, and my eyes focused on a very sincere, meaningful and serious conversation between two women — both customers — and the woman behind the counter, Gerrianne, who so wonderfully represents Barbee Cookies to all who walk through the door. It’s almost like time stood still. I watched as the three of them talked back and forth, and I soon realized that they were talking about loss…about grief…and that both of the customers somehow were connected in grief. I listened for a minute or so…almost like no one knew I was in the room. They were locked in a moment that brought kindness and empathy. I still wasn’t sure what the conversation was about, but somehow, I knew I needed to be a part of it. So I walked between them and said, “Excuse me, but I just have to ask…is this a private conversation?” OK, maybe I don’t always use the most proper approach.
The one woman looked at me, stopped and said, “Have you ever lost anyone?” Gut punch. “Yes, my son and my husband — and my Dad.” She immediately rushed over and hugged me with such intense kindness. One lost her Mother; one had just lost her husband. The four of us stood there with tears in our eyes, because we were sharing a moment of pain and grief, and yet a beautiful moment of sharing understanding and hope. Yes, we all had lost those closest to us, but for them, it was still very raw.
“My name is Carol,” I said. Leslie and Gail introduced themselves to me and to each other, as none of us knew each other before that moment. Leslie’s middle name is Gail, she said, and someone’s name was also Carol. (I lost those details in the excitement of the moment.) Gerrianne came from around the counter and we stood there as a group hugging, tears streaming. For some reason, we knew that God had led all of us to Barbee Cookies that morning, because each of us, facing Christmas with holes in each heart, needed to know that it’s ok to feel sadness and loss when the rest of the world seems to be in perfect Christmas peace. And we each needed a hug from someone who understands.
“This is my God moment today,” I said, as we went from somber to joyous in 20 seconds flat! We shared about how God puts us where we need to be, and that some of us need the hugs and some of us need to give the hugs. The circle of life and the love of Jesus, all expressed as we talked like old friends to women we had just met. A bond was formed that none of us will ever forget.
Do I know these women? No, but we all acknowledged that God brought us together at that very time, in that very place, because each of us needed something from the others, and each of us got exactly what we needed. God is so good.
We did not even exchange phone numbers. We just agreed that next year, on December 23rd, we’d meet again in the morning at Barbee Cookies for cookies and coffee…and that is one appointment I won’t miss!
Oh, and by the way, Barbee Cookies is worth the trip! Located at 8393 S. Memorial Drive, I’d like to say they are a true Tulsa treasure! The setting is perfect, the ambiance is welcoming and the cookies…well, you need to experience them for yourself! With its little ice cream parlor — and Gerrianne! — Barbee Cookies offers everything to keep you coming back…besides just the snickerdoodles and the hugs, of course!
Carol Sokolsky, a contributing writer for the918.org, has written and shared her heart with several personal journeys that #foreverchanged her life. She loves sharing Tulsa, life and faith with our readers, and is enjoying this season of her life immensely after retiring three years ago. Her passions include her family, volunteering, writing, traveling and exercise.