I’d gone to the post office in pajamas that morning — at first hesitating, because… well, I was in pajamas.

I had no idea that the woman there would need to talk. I just knew I wanted to mail a present to a friend first thing and, having taken Allie to school in my sleep clothes and slippers (this is no rare occurrence), I decided to sit outside the still closed post office until it opened. 

At exactly 8:45, I zipped up my jacket and padded in. It’s a small establishment, with friendly folk behind the counter. Postmistress kind of eyed me up and down, then smiled.

“Yes, I’m in PJs,” I told her, as if she didn’t know. 

“Come as you are,” she replied, still smiling. 

I handed her the package, and we discussed my options for getting it to the small Massachusetts town by Wednesday. I opted for the least expensive, “not guaranteed” way — though it would most likely arrive on time and wouldn’t break the bank.

I also chose a card — a sympathy card to send to the husband of a woman who recently passed away, whose kids and grandkids are my friends.

As I always do, I faced the card down, so the bar code faced up, for easy scanning. I didn’t see her look at the card, only scan it and add it to my total. 

As I paid, she asked me, “Did you ever visit Tea Time Emporium and meet its owner, Ms. Nancy?”

I told her that I had not, then asked, “Why?”

“Well, Nancy Powell — she was just one of those people. You know, someone who radiated joy.” 

She paused briefly, as though lost in thought. Then continued.

“She came in, maybe a month or so ago now. I’d see her in here from time to time, and I visited her shop on a few occasions. But the last time she was in, she leaned toward me over the counter — right there, where you’re standing — and said, ‘Let’s have lunch sometime soon’.”

I noticed Postmistress was speaking in past tense, so I asked her, “Did she pass away?”

But my question wasn’t directly answered. Instead, “I didn’t even know she was sick. Had no idea.” Then, “No, we never had lunch. I’d had that ‘nudge’ — you know, when you think about someone. Usually I act on it, but I didn’t this time. I don’t know why. Then she passed away, just over a week or so ago.” Her voice faded with regret.

“I’m sorry.” (What more could be said?) 

“Yes, me too. I should’ve made that lunch date happen.”

“Please don’t be too hard on yourself,” I consoled, no longer concerned that I was standing in our public post office in PJs. “I’m sure she really saw something special in you to want to have lunch. You couldn’t have known.”

“No, I suppose not,” she concluded, handing me my receipt. “But next time, I’m going to act on that nudge.”

I returned home and stayed in my PJs some time longer. With coffee, I looked at our local paper’s obituaries and found Nancy Powell’s. In the photo, she’s standing on a beach, arms outstretched — truly a picture of joy, and I read, “She always made everyone feel welcome… She will be missed dearly.”

And although I didn’t know Nancy, learning a bit more about her from the postmistress while standing in my pajamas, I almost felt I did. And I, too, wish I’d had that one last opportunity — maybe not lunch but at least a visit to Tea Time Emporium.

I mailed my sympathy card to my friend’s father-in-law with a prayer for a family that is hurting, as well as for a woman who regrets not having had lunch with Ms. Nancy.

And I’m reminded that we just never know.

We’re not promised tomorrow, and Jesus — like my postmistress friend — simply says, “Come as you are,” caring not about fancy clothes.

He only desires that we know him.

That we’re willing to be used by him — to be present for someone in need.

Yes, even if in pajamas.