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To the Target Employee Who Can't 'See' My Invisible Illness

Laura Keating

If I were you, I would have assumptions about my daughter and me, and they wouldn’t be the nicest judgments.

You see us walk into Target hand in hand, with my daughter enjoying a McDonald’s smoothie.

You know where we are heading — aisle F14 — straight to the “girl” toys. And you know my daughter will be walking out of the aisle with a toy or two.

You see us at the self-checkout. You see that we are always buying a silly “laugh-out-loud” doll or other small toy.

You watch us as my daughter wants to do the scanning and paying all by herself. We make the machine freeze up. We ring up too many things, or sometimes not everything. You even smile when she uses the gun to swipe her gift cards.

You notice us sit down in the Starbucks after our purchase while my daughter quickly opens her new surprise toy, curiously trying to figure out which one she got in the set.

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And the whole time, you are smiling — looking us in the eye, making sure our lane is ready for us, giving us a coin to scratch off the passcode on the back of the gift card, and even right there to fix the register when things ring up the wrong price.

You make my day, my week, and my month. And you have no idea.

You see, what you don’t know is that I am really sick. I have autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy, which has caused my digestive system to be paralyzed, and makes me feel like I have the stomach flu everyday. I don’t get out of bed most days. I don’t drive very often because I get sick. I can’t take care of my preschool daughter because I am sick. So, when you see us at Target, all smiles, spoiling my kid rotten, it’s because your store is less than one mile from my house. And so is McDonald’s. And on days that I don’t want to pull the covers over my head and give in to this awful disease, I excitedly and proudly take my daughter the only places I physically can. And then, she excitedly ventures off to grandma’s house because I’m too sick to even take care of myself.

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And you have become part of our story. We look for you each time we are there. My daughter talks about you to her big sister. She tells her that our “Target friend” was working today, or how he let us use his coin. She even brought her grandpa with us one day to see you.

So while you probably have no idea, you are a giant light of positivity and joy for my daughter and me. I actually look forward to your kind smile and the cute little head nod you give us each time you see us.

We won’t be seeing you for a while because I am getting a bone marrow transplant. But, please don’t forget about us.

And please don’t forget that you helped create a happy memory and tradition for my daughter and me.

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