The Girl at the Pizza Parlor

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If I told you where one of my favorite pizza places is you would probably laugh. Or maybe you simply wouldn’t believe me. Either way, it wouldn’t matter, because I know how good it is. Any guesses? Are you dying to know? Ok, I won’t leave you hanging any longer.

Nestled in the basement of the hospital my dad works at downtown is a place called Sonny’s pizza. It’s a small, unassuming place with a simple sign hung above the door. If you didn’t know it was there, you could probably spend a lot of time in the hospital and miss it entirely. And yet, come meal time, it’s bustling with activity. Since I was a girl, having a slice at Sonny’s was a special treat, so along with really great pizza (and the best chocolate chip cookies around), this pizza joint holds some pretty heavy nostalgia for me.

After I had Lane, she and I would visit my dad at work and grab some Sonny’s while we were at it. Our pediatrician’s office was across the street from the hospital for years. Every time we were able, my dad would meet us at the doctor’s office to help me out with whichever kid’s appointment, and then he would treat us to pizza afterwords. It helped ease my kids’ minds about having to see the doctor, and it became a fun tradition for all of us.

As soon as we walked in the door every time, there was one particular lady who would smile at us really warm and big, and say hello. She worked the cash register and was a good friend of my dad’s. She knew who we were whether he was with us or not. She always asked how we were doing and what was going on. She consistently complimented us and was always so nice to talk to. I looked forward to seeing her every time. There was something so warm and genuine about her. You knew she really cared about you and what you had to say to her. Her name was Liz.

I found out yesterday that she had an aneurism and passed away. I didn’t know her very well, but I cried when I read the text from my dad. It’s one of the few times I’ve cried over someone I hardly knew. As I was telling my husband, I stopped to think about it. Liz had a way of making you feel at home. Even though we only had a small number of interactions with each other, each and every one was meaningful. She had such an impact on me because she meant to. Whether she realized it or not, her words were always kind and uplifting. She listened well and always had a good response. I can honestly say, she made that basement in that hospital a brighter place to be.

I thought to myself yesterday as tears rolled down my cheeks, “I want to be more like that. I want to be more kind and intentional, and less wrapped up in my own stuff. I want to make a big impact with even just a few meaningful interactions.” I’ve been thinking about it since. Next time I visit Sonny’s, and stand in line to pay for my food, it will feel a little more empty. It won’t be quite as bright, but I know I’ll remember her with a smile on my face. Here’s to you, Liz. May we all be a little bit more like you.