“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2006, we had no idea how quickly it would take her away from us. She had always been so strong, healthy and active that it was hard to imagine something so seemingly intangible & mysterious as cancer could beat her. To our shock and horror, it stole her life, and rapidly. In a short two months, my vibrant mom was gone.
I won’t go too deeply into the details of her sickness and our loss right now, since that isn’t the point of sharing this. The point of sharing is the legacy of kindness that my mom left behind and the ripples of kindness others showed when she was taken from us so quickly.
When I lost my mom, I also lost my best friend.
The hole left in my life and heart is something indescribable, and nothing anyone could understand without having been there. There were those who probably didn’t know what to do to help me, so they did nothing. There were many more who probably knew they couldn’t make my pain go away, but they still reached out to let me know that I was not alone. Most of the latter were probably unaware of the difference they made for me and my family, but every little thing someone did for us made a huge impact. Without the kindness of those around us, I don’t know that we could have made it through our loss as well as I have.
Do you want to know some of the many acts of kindness I was blessed with during the loss of my mom?
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I had just started getting really involved with a new church community. I didn’t expect much support or love from them, since I’d had alot of negative & unkind experiences with church people in my life previously, but they were there for me every step of the way. They didn’t just pray for me, which is always appreciated, but they actively let me know they cared. They’d come to me and ask how my mom was and how I was handling things and if I needed anything. They also reached out to my brother, and were a strong support for him during his grieving process. I would never have asked for help, even with the offer, but the offers still mattered and the concern made it’s impact.
Family and friends alike called and emailed regularly to check on us and let us know they were thinking of us. Some offered help. Most just let us know they cared. All were an important part of our family’s survival of my mom not surviving.
My dad owns his own business, Cue Man Billiards and Hightower Cues http://www.hightowercues.com, and my parents had no health insurance. Other business owners and individuals in the billiard industry organized a fundraiser to assist with the mounting medical bills. The money helped. The fact that all of those people cared enough about our family and had that much respect & concern for my dad to reach into their pockets and open their hearts to help us in our time of need meant even more than the cash, though. I saw my dad- who is not a very emotional person- with tears in his eyes because of what the gestures of so many people in his business world meant to him. The billiard industry doesn’t have the best reputation in some circles, but I can say from experience that there are some amazing and good hearted folks who love pool. 🙂
Speaking of my dad’s business… even his customers showed kindness to us. I was working with my dad at the time, and we would have customers who were aware of our circumstances ask on a regular basis about how my mom and our family was doing when they called or emailed to order . They probably didn’t know, but the moment it took to show care and kindness made a lasting impact.
I was involved in an online community who consistently kept up a thread just for prayers and encouragement for me through this time, and each post reminded me that our family was not alone on an island of sickness. Friends who were distant would send e-cards and messages of well wishes, prayer and just reminders that they cared. I didn’t realize how many true friends that I had until I was going through something I could never have handled alone.
The women at the gym my mom & I once frequented together now saw me coming in alone, and kept up with her sickness and sent well wishes to her on a regular basis.
When my mom passed away, I was shocked at how many people from near and far came to pay respects to her and show support to those of us grieving this loss of this amazing woman. Each and every member of my Bible study group showed up either at the funeral home for visitation or the funeral. Women from the gym my mom had once loved to go to came to show their final respects. Most of our relatives, both close and remote, seemed to have shown up. Old friends even came from states away to be there for us. I was amazed at all of the names in the sign-in book.
(On the topic of that sign-in book… please, please, please always sign that book when you go to a visitation, viewing or funeral! It is so important to the grieving family, because they may be in such a daze that they can’t recall or even notice everyone who is there. That book will tell them you were there for them.)
There were tons of flowers and cards and even a beautiful painting from people whose lives had been touched by the radiant & loving life my mom had led.
People from my church, my dad’s church and my uncle’s church provided us with food for meals we would never have bothered to cook for the first couple of weeks. Our next door neighbor even brought us a hot breakfast the morning of my mom’s funeral. In our grief, we would most likely have forgotten about eating anything significant, but these people literally gave us comfort food.
A couple of people donated to the cancer society in my mom name. Some told me stories of ways that she had touched their lives. Others simply said they were sorry for our loss or said nothing and gave me a hug. All of them touched my heart deeply, because the feeling behind the act is the most important thing of all.
Noone made anyone do anything for us. They just cared, and showed it through their acts of kindness.
There were many more that I’m not mentioning, but it would fill pages upon pages. The point of sharing all of this is to encourage everyone who reads this that no kindness is too small, no word too insignificant, no action too simple to make a difference.
For my fellow penny pinchers out there, kindness costs you nothing and gives so much. Just telling someone who is grieving or having a difficult time in life “I care” or “I am here for you” goes a long ways, if you truly mean that from your heart. All of those tiny acts of kindness, along with the legacy of my mama’s love that I have kept in my heart, helped carry me through the murky mire of overwhelming and debilitating grief that eventually threatened to drown me.
In my everyday life, I’ve also experienced many acts of random kindness, but… well, that’s another story of kindness for another day. 🙂