To the Man A Floor Below

I have a story that I have oscillated between sharing or not for a couple weeks now. But this story is something that I have grown and learned from tremendously. Hence, I think it may be important to record so I do not forget these lessons that have been on my heart.

After Church two Sundays ago, I walked downstairs into our lobby to head out for a run. There was a group of people surrounding a forty-something year old man who was sitting on the ground, back supported against the wall, barefooted, eyes closed, and head rolling. Immediately, those nurse instincts kicked in full force. Once I confirmed 911 had been called I sat next to the man and began a rapid assessment. He was conscious, AOx4, but had slurred speech and not able to keep his eyes open. He was showing signs of tardive dyskinesia. He told us the drugs he had just took and clearly was overdosing on benzos before our eyes. I was just praying the EMTs showed up with some Romazicon soon if he were to lose consciousness. I was itching to get a blood sugar, a pulse ox, an EKG… but all I could offer was my presence. I asked him about how he was feeling; he told me he didn’t want to live anymore and was afraid he was going to kill himself. He had come downstairs into the lobby to get help. When the people around me asked if I was a nurse and I confirmed, I noted the relief in their eyes. I felt I didn’t deserve this trust put in me, and suddenly realized the responsibility I had in this situation I had stumbled upon. Yet, the training and experience I had was nearly robotic. I now understand why they say nursing is a calling; it’s knit into the fabric of who you are at all times, on or off duty. I assured him we would stay with him until help came. I think it was what he wanted at this moment. He expressed such gratitude. Finally, the team came and he was off to the hospital in a flash.

Something that has loomed in my thoughts is the fact that he was a resident in our apartment- only one floor below us. I probably had rode the elevator with him before, I probably had passed him by the mailboxes or in the parking garage. Yet, I had no idea that there was someone only a floor below fighting for the will to survive. While I propped my feet up on the couch and turned on some silly reality show, someone a floor below was counting pills. “How many might it take?” he contemplated. While I counted the stressors in this year to come, someone below was counting if the stressors of his life were worth living another day.

It woke me up a bit- the reality that we don’t know what those around us are truly going through. It’s cliched, I realize, yet it carries a visceral weight. If we recognized that every single person we encounter is going through something, has a story, has a painful anecdote that formed them or is currently molding them would we all be kinder? Would we smile a bit more as we pass perfect strangers or look the cashier in the eye when we are checking out? I understand that we can’t solve everyone’s problems in this world, but what if we all lived more intentionally. Maybe taking our heads out of our phones and our eyes off our own lives for a second and simply asking, “How are you?” or “How was your day?” to the stranger next to us on the subway, the train, or in line at a grocery store can make all the difference. It’s simply saying to another human- “I see you, you matter, and you are not invisible” that can make or break a person’s day, their life. I know I’ve been there. I’m still there many days. I have battled a long stream of mental health battles my whole life, yet most of the people in my life have no idea. Why didn’t I realize this sooner- that many others probably aren’t wearing their grief and heartache on their sleeve as well?

This man just wanted to be seen. He came downstairs and sat against a wall in the lobby because he knew he would be seen. How can we see the pain around us if we refuse to look up and see? I know we have heard this probably a hundred times, I’m not bringing any type of sage wisdom to the table, but for some reason for the first time this idea, this reality, hit home in a new way. The plague of our society is the acceptance of facade and the taboo of authenticity. Our interactions with one another may be short, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be meaningful. Our words may be few, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be powerful. Our own time may be precious, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be shared. I pray that Jesus will give me His eyes to see those around me the way He does, that he will give me the courage to ask the tough questions, the patience to listen, and the heart to love.

And to the man the floor below, I need you to know, you are loved more than you can imagine. You are worthy. You are the most valuable. There is One who sees you and knows you better than anyone ever could. There is someone who knows your pain so intimately, and He died for it so you don’t have to. There is someone who conquered the grave so you can live. You are never truly alone. I pray for you each day, and I pray that our paths cross again.

68 thoughts on “To the Man A Floor Below

  1. Beautiful Kenz and so true. We all need to ” love thy neighbor” without judgment. A hard thing to remember in this world of ours. Thank you for sharing and reminding

    1. Aw, thank you girlfriend for reading. It means so much <3 I hope you are well. Life has been absolute insanity but I'm dying to catch up on your blog as soon as time allows. BIG BIG BIG HUGS!

  2. Wow, what an unusual encounter that is thought-provoking. So glad that you stepped in to offer support and asked your neighbor questions, kept him awake until the ambulance came. People do have the respect of your profession! Nice post!

      1. You’re very welcome! I appreciate nurses. My daughter just delivered a baby 10 days ago. She said as soon as she check in to the hospital, she was surrounded by angels! My husband and many in his side of the family are in medical field. I appreciate what they do also! 🙂

      2. <3 <3 I am so thankful your daughter had such a beautiful experience with nurses. <3 Thank you for sharing that with me! I hope you are having a great week thus far, Miriam 🙂

      3. Thank you so much. I had great experience with nurses during my inpatient chemo treatment also. The nurse-patient ratio is low. Have great days the rest of the week!😊💜

      4. <3 That's amazing! That makes my heart happy. I've always considered either oncology or neurology for long term! I would love to work in oncology sometime for that very reason <3

      5. My very first nurse went by the book. She rubbed every needle with rubbing alcohol pads 100 counts before she applied on IV, told me every step she was doing. I felt like I was her only patient. I’m glad you have the passion to do it. 💖💛

      6. Aw, that’s so amazing. I aspire to be just like her! Thank you for having this conversation with me, Miriam. It means tons <3

  3. This is beautiful. And it’s so true. Also, nurses are a special kind of person. Not only are they kind, but they will allow me to get all nerdy medical with them from time to time. 🙂 I’m glad you were put in the right place at the right time. It’s these situations that remind us of the role God has for us in this life. You did His Will that day, not only because you were able to help this man to the extent you could, but because you could share this story the way that you did.

    1. Aw, thank you, Katy <3 Hehe- I would LOVE to talk nerdy medical ANYTHING anytime! Haha. Your words are so so kind, I don't honestly feel like I did much of anything, but thank you for the sweet assurance, especially about sharing this. I sometimes am unsure if it will mean anything or resonate with anyone else, so thank you thank you for taking the time to leave such encouragement. Sending big, massive hugs to you, friend. <3

    1. Thank you so much, Kimberlee. Wow- the way you said that is so beautiful and well said. That’s exactly, EXACTLY the point I was trying to get across, and I could not have summed it up better. Thank you for reading and leaving such a kind note <3

  4. Dear Miss Sunshine,

    I am so glad your paths crossed… I bet this chance encounter is deeply meaningful for both you and this man’s lives. I was so not surprised to read about how you reacted… Yes, of course, your medical background kicked in, but it was more than that. You have a big, open heart, and although I have great admiration for people working in the medical field, you have empathy and a love for people that not everybody can claim to have…

    Keep being the great person you are… And all the best to this man! I hope you two meet again, in better circumstances 🙂


    1. CYRRR!!!! This comment brought a tear to my eye. Thank you, thank you always for your heartfelt encouragement and words. They mean more than I can say, especially because lately I feel like I’m falling short in a lot of respects. Sending big hugs up to Freezingland, which actually probably will be freezingland here soon. <3

      1. Mr Frost is actually a little late this year, but no one will care to file a complaint 😉

        You deserve all the nice comments people leave for you… You are one amazing young lady, and you make the world a better place with every little selfless gesture like this one. I am grateful to know, even if just through blogging 🙂 xx

  5. Hi Mackenzie, thank you for sharing this story ! The man did the right thing coming into the lobby, to be seen. The people were put at ease by your presence as a nurse. It was a chance encounter by a lot of people’s view but I think it was God putting both of you there in that lobby at that time. He needed someone to show him Love and care and you were the person to do it! Sometimes we can only see what is going on in our own lives while others need to tell their story but don’t know how. Asking strangers how they are doing is a good challenge for us, to see Jesus in that person. I know Jesus is working through you , you have the patience to listen and the heart to love. Jesus knows what this man is going through , he sent one of his earthly angels to be a comforter in a time of great despair for him. I will keep him in my prayers too, have a great Sunday Mackenzie, hugs, Terri xo.

    1. Hi Terri, oh wow thank you tons for your response. Even though I don’t feel I made a difference in this man’s life, he really made a big one in mine so I do believe this was not a coincidental encounter! Wow- it is SO true that Jesus really knows what this man is going through and we are called to be His hands and feet. When we think in that perspective He truly will help us to be love to this world. You are so kind and your sweet words mean the world.. sending you so much love! <3 XO

  6. It’s amazing that you walked to the lobby of your building at the exact moment! I hope he was okay and knows that he is loved. Nurses really are something special and can offer a lot of comfort to so many when an emergency happens and a nurse comes in while off duty. Thank you for sharing this story because emergencies happen all the time and a nurse is such a blessing in them! XO 🙂

    1. Hi Maureen! Thank you tons for reading and taking the time to leave your thoughts, love <3 Your words are SO encouraging. Thank you, thank you, thank you tons!

  7. What a beautiful, well written story you shared, thank you! So timely that you shared this at the end of such a tumultuous week in the news as we never know when a simple act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life. God clearly had you there at the right time and you answered the call and responded immediately with both your nursing skills but more importantly you compassion and love for other people. You are very special and so thankful for you in our family! Hugs to you!

    1. Aww! Thank you, Mom!!!!! so true- those events just shake us all to the core, but we have to wonder how just the little acts of kindness can make the biggest difference. Thank you for sharing your sweet thoughts and reading. Love you and thankful for you!!! <3

  8. It is always amazing when God puts those wake-up call moments in our lives. I’m so thankful God put you in this man’s life, even if only for a little while! I pray that the care and love you showed him will change his life and plant a seed in his heart for God to water and grow.
    God’s ways are so far beyond our own…He can use someone in need to impact just as much, if not more, the one who helps.
    Thank you for sharing this story, Mackenzie!!!

    1. Hi Lauren! So sorry to just be getting back to you!!! Isn’t it crazy how just the most unexpected incidences can be the most life changing (good and bad?!). Ah, thank you so much for your prayers and your sweet, sweet words. YOU ARE SO RIGHT- God’s ways are so much bigger– we can never truly see the way everything is unfolding in the moment either or the long term repercussions. I’m very thankful for you as a friend here and you encourage me more than you know! I hope you had a beautiful weekend, dear! Thank you tons for reading <3

  9. This gave me chills! I cannot imagine his pain, and you are one incredibly strong young woman. Not nearly as intense or impactful, but the other day I was given the opportunity to practice a small act of kindness. While Kaci and I were at Francesca’s, a young girl accidentally bumped into a table display and knocked over some products. Without thinking, I just bent over and began helping. She said how klutzy she was, but I assured her I as well as many others can be. In doing so, I saw a lovely gift that Kaci could give to our step-mom at Kaci’s wedding. So it actually all went just as it should have. Also, I called to the Mac counter the next day to let the sales rep know that the lipstick she found for us both was wonderful and would be perfect for the wedding. It shocked her, and she said it made her day. We’re often so quick to complain but not let someone know when they’ve been really helpful. Thanks for this conversation! XO

    1. <3 Thank you so much, Kori. Wow, you have such a gift and way of encouraging people with your sweet words! And that story is definitely as impactful, just in a different way. It's amazing how when we go out of our way in the smallest way it can make a HUGE difference. (PS.Francesca's always has the best jewelry selection!). And I bet you are the only person in history that has called a sales rep like that- it's something she'll remember for the rest of her career! Thank you so much for sharing this with me <3 It put such a big smile on my face

      1. I’m so glad that it did! I think if more people took the time to say something kind, the world would be a better place. Also, I agree that Francesca’s does have the best jewelry selection! ☺️

  10. That’s a lesson I’ve learned before and always try to keep in mind. That those who seem perfectly fine are often the ones who have it the worst. The people who smile back at you may be living through the worst times of their lives. I can honestly say I’ve been on both sides. Seeing that someone clearly needed help and I needed someone else’s help, but never asking for it.
    There are times when I’ve felt so down that even the acknowledgement of the cashier made me feel better. And when I was going through the worst possible time of my life when I was 19 in college, I felt like I was losing hope but kept attending my classes anyway. My psychology teacher in particular made a difference. As she walked by after she announced break time, I steadily looked at my notebook. She stopped in front of my desk on her way out and asked me how I was doing. Just that one simple question made me feel so much better and made me snap out of those dark feelings and thoughts. It’s so weird that people come to you when you least expect it, but also when you need it most.
    I always do my best to give a smile to random strangers in passing or simply be kind to the cashier, because I know what it’s like to feel invisible in a room full of people.
    This is such a wonderful post though Mackenzie! You’re such a beautiful soul, the world is very lucky to have you!

    1. Hi, love <3 Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this comment.. I think we all could definitely identify with being on the other side at some points too; it's super important to keep that in mind. Thank you for opening up about this time of your life.. it's amazing how you remember the littlest things like the cashier or your psychology teacher… it's exactly those interactions, the small day to day ones that can make a huge difference. Gosh, I seriously appreciate you sharing this so much. It brought a tear to my eye and makes me heart ache, but I need you to know you are such an amazing individual. I feel so thankful to know you!!! You are amazing and the world is lucky to have YOU! Sending you so much love, Rossy <3

      1. Honestly having “been there” has made me more compassionate because I can count many times where I’ve felt like I was at my worst but people still try to kick you when you’re down. But yes, small acts of kindness are the ones that change the world or even a person’s world. I’m very thankful to be here! 🙂 And thanks so much for your kind words as well, my eyes literally watered reading this! xx I’m so glad our paths have crossed, even if it’s through the internet. One day when I visit SF, I will* see you! 🙂

      2. That makes so much sense, love. And I meant every word! Girl, that trip to SF is happening and I promise I will give you the ultimate ULTIMATE tour! Hope you are having the best end to your week, Rossy! XO

  11. You have such a Huge Heart, Mack! and you are truly called in your vocation! It is a wonderful thing you have done for your neighbour. And if your training allowed you to help even though you were in shock as much as the other folks around you, then I say, you are blessed in your chosen field of work!

    Thank you for choosing to write and share this experience with us. I know it couldn’t have been easy; you have blessed us greatly with your sharing!

    1. Aww thank you. Ju-Lyn ❤️ I don’t feel I did that much at all but this is so encouraging and kind of you to say! Thank you for taking the time to read 💕

  12. Oh my dear. You have the most beautiful heart. I am so glad you found your calling because it is absolutely what you were made for! I’m so glad there are people like you out there making such a difference in this world <3

    1. Hi Lovey!!! Oh wow, so so good to hear from you! I MISS YOU! I can’t wait to pop by your place and see what you are up to. Thank you for taking the time to read this and leave the SWEETEST words. You’re the best <3 Love you, girlfriend!

  13. Oh Sweet Mack. YOU are an incredible writer. This literally gave me chills. Firstly have I mentioned you are super woman? I know you do not always feel like it but you are.
    While I feel like many “reasons” happen with no possible reasonable explanation and we won’t ever know why until we get to heaven, other times I do strongly feel like those answers to the reasons while maybe do not give us answers in the moment, they do soon after and that day you were put in that man’s path to help him.
    Your words are so beautifully written and not only true but strike close to home.
    I will never forget when I was a teenager and sick, discussing it with someone, and they told me they had no idea because I was always smiling. Like because I was always happy there was no way I could be struggling, ill or anything less.
    Five years later when I came clean about my ED, despite the weight loss, I got the same response, that because I always appeared so self assured on the outside I couldn’t be anything less then on the inside.
    Those experiences taught me so much about how I view others. You NEVER know. You never know whether a kind word or a smile will make or break someones day. Whether a small action one that seems so innocent or every day, can cause ripple effects for someone else.
    It is a lesson we all need to be conscious off. And you my dear did an excellent job of sharing it with us. Thank you! Thank you for being you! Thank you for caring and being compassionate and so loving<3 You are such a gift! <3

    1. Kate, thank you so much. Thank you SO much for sharing all this with me. What YOU said resonated deeply with me. Oh my gosh, yes, … it’s far too easy to fake being happy to the world.. way easier to fake it than to be transparent most times. I struggle big time with that as you know.. there are things I want to be more transparent about here, on this platform, but haven’t worked up the nerve yet…. That’s another reason you are a role model of mine.. you are transparent and vulnerable, but all I see is STRENGTH because of it. I desire to be strong enough to share these things with others the way you do.

      And yesss- you never EVER understand. It’s so true. I think about how much it means to me when someone at work just says “thank you” or a patient says, “you are doing a good job!”. They have NO idea how much it means to me. It really is a ripple effect. Thank you so much for your love and sweet words always. XOXOX

      1. Girl I swear you are a mind reader, I really needed to read your words today.
        It really is! Being vulnerable is hard work and takes a lot of courage. A part of me feels week when I am, like I am less then. (type A perfectionist self right there)
        Huge hugs. We all struggle with it, but beauty while you may not share everything you are still one of the most authentic people I know, and I admire you so much for that!
        Awe huge hugs. I really really needed to read that. THANK YOU! I don’t always feel strong especially today, so thank you, for giving me that encouragement.
        Huge hugs. you will when the moment is right. It isn’t something that you can rush, and we are all on our own unique journey. When you feel ready, you will. <3
        No we really don't. And those words are so powerful! It really is. Awe thank you beautiful for YOURS especially today! Love you so much sweet lady! <3

      2. Aww, I am so SO glad this came timely. Your response is timely for me coming off a SUPER hard shift last night. Thank YOU for your sweet words, Kate. You’re amazing. HUGE hugs to you, beautiful. <3 <3

  14. This almost brought tears to my eyes.
    I’ve often thought about what another person might be going through as I rush around throughout my day. Sometimes, when I’m people-watching, I like to make up little behind-the-scenes stories of their lives. I always try to keep in mind that quote that says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” But it’s easy to get caught up in our problems, our worries, our stuff and ignore those around us. Thank you for this necessary reminder.

    I hope you cross paths with that man again too – it sounds like you’re just the person he needs. God let you intervene for a reason! 🙂

    1. Hi Bria.. aw wow thank you so much for your sweet response. It’s so interesting to think about from that perspective (the behind-the-scenes story) because the possibilities are truly endless. It really helps you realize they could be going through anything. Thank you again, Bria <3 XO

  15. BRB, crying. I love this post! What an awesome reminder to try to intentionally “see” people, every day. You were meant to walk through that lobby at that time and I’m SO glad you shared this story with us!!

    1. Awww thank you so much, Alana!! <3 I haven't read this post in forever and actually am so glad you commented on it because I think I needed this reminder again too, especially with how busy life has been. Have a very happy new year!! xox

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