The other day I randomly started chatting with a woman that I “met” (online) through some mutual friends and interests, thanks to our love for antiques, history and a good story. [But before I go any further let me reassure you (Dad) that NO, I’m not on any crazy website looking to”meet” someone.] Anyway we were chatting and I learned that like me, she’s experienced some serious grief and loss in her life. And while our experiences are different, her words and her overall outlook really struck a chord with me. She wrote:
“The thing is this: if we don’t let the anger fade, if we don’t treasure each breath we take, if we don’t give the best that we have to give…we are not honoring them. I know my son would want us to be happy, to make the best life we can make…to do anything less is an insult to him. So I laugh because he can’t. I breathe because he no longer breathes. I love because he loved with every beat of his big heart. We must do these things in order to not have lost them in vain.”
Now I “know” all this. My friends and family have preached this to me for years. But to hear it from a complete stranger, someone who also truly gets it, the words just seemed to take on a whole new meaning. Like I wrote in a previous blog, “Grief – The Monster in the Closet” I’m not one to talk much about the pain or sadness I sometimes feel, and if I’m honest with myself, most days I simply try to tuck it away so it’s far out of reach. And with my busy schedule having three little kiddos, it’s not that hard to do. But some days I’ll have a flashback, or hear a song, or in this case talk to someone (other than my family) who has felt the same things I do. And in these moments, it’s simply impossible to bury.
I cried a lot that day after chatting with this woman. But when I was done, I also smiled. And ultimately I felt happy. Because as she reminded me, it’s not always taking it day by day or even hour by hour. Sometimes it’s minute by minute. But that’s okay because “we got this.”
Now coincidentally on this same day, a friend of mine posted a fantastic image that read:
“You might think that you don’t matter in this world, but because of you, someone has a favorite mug to drink their tea out of that you bought them.
Someone hears a song on the radio and it reminds them of you.
Someone has read a book you recommended to them and gotten lost in its pages.
Someone’s remembered a joke you told them and smiled to themselves on the bus.
Never think you don’t have an impact.
Your fingerprints can’t be wiped away from the little marks of kindness that you’ve left behind.”
After my earlier conversation and then seeing this, it just reminded me that sometimes it’s the random words you hear from a stranger. Sometimes it’s a pat on the back. Sometimes it’s reading an inspirational message that just nails it. Whatever the case may be, simple acts of kindness are everywhere. They’re a huge part to what makes us humans. They’re what gets us through the daily challenges; the complicated, messy struggles. But they’re also what gives us that extra reason to smile or what puts that tiny added pep in our step.
I know this woman was simply expressing her thoughts and emotions about her own experiences. She wasn’t necessarily trying to cheer me up or “fix” me. But she ultimately made an impact on me. And that, I feel, is such an important lesson for us all to remember. It’s something that I certainly hope I’ve done, and will continue to do, for others. But even more so, it’s something I strive to teach my kids. Because in a world filled with so much pain, unfairness and hurt, what may seem silly or unimportant to one person may be just the thing that helps someone else decide to push through and keep going.
I feel like so often we get caught up on buying the more expensive gift or focusing on making grand gestures with the assumption that that’s what will get noticed or recognized. And yes, maybe “more” people will notice things on a bigger scale. But quantity doesn’t necessarily equate to a more powerful impact. It’s the little things, the unintended or accidental gestures, that add up to become the big things. So offer up that book recommendation. Buy that silly five dollar gift for a friend. And tell that stupid joke you heard from your seven year old. Because you never know just how much of an impact those insignificant gestures might make.