Just the other day, as the children in my household pressed pause on their play to catch up on some much-needed rest, I rested an elbow on the smooth surface of the kitchen table, my hand cupping the ceramic promise of wakefulness. I inhaled the delicious moment of silence for a few extra seconds before hinging open the silver lid to the computer that sat slightly askew before me.
As I opened my email, her message practically jumped off the screen at me.
“Thanks for your inspiration to step out of my comfort zone today!” she had written.
I was intrigued.
Tingling chills climb up my spine and spread across the surface of my skin whenever I hear about people helping people. When I hear that an individual has pushed themselves to take a risk in being kind to another person because of a story they’ve heard or an kind acts they’ve seen, it confirms my deeply held personal belief that kindness inspires kindness.
“I’m normally a very quiet, reserved person, and have a hard time initiating conversation. But today, I pushed myself.”
Happiness washed over me as I read on.
The message was from Denise, a teacher and mother, like me. We had both attended the same classes in university and graduated alongside one another. Although we had fallen out of touch, we would often see each other at the park, running errands, or chauffeuring our kids around town.
As a result of the Beacon Hill blog post I had published just days earlier, she had made it her mission that day to strike up a conversation when the opportunity arose.
That morning, as she spoke to strangers in line, smiled at passers-by on the sidewalk, and chatted with fellow parents at school drop-off, she felt rewarded in knowing that such a small effort positively impacts many people’s day.
But it was a decision she made later that morning, that would truly become a defining moment for her.
After drop-off, she hurriedly parked her vehicle near the entrance of a local grocery store. Glancing at the list of items she had written on a neatly folded piece of loose-leaf paper, she gathered her purse and keys, then fastened the buttons on her waterproof coat just as wet droplets began tapping at roof of her car. Within seconds the rain was pelting the windows; people scurried to their cars shielding their heads from the rain with anything they could find: flyers, clasped hands, and even boxes of cereal.
She took a deep breath, assembling her things under an arm as she pushed the door open, readying her legs to sprint to the entrance of the store.
Then, Denise stopped dead in her tracks, as her gaze fell on her.
The woman, whose face was plastered with soaked wisps of a messy bun, pleaded desperately in the assailing rainstorm as her one arm wrestled a coat onto the flailing limbs of a tantruming toddler. An unmistakable wail drew Denise’s eyes to the woman’s other arm, which held a new baby, red-faced, screeching furiously, and blinking as beads of water accumulated on her tiny body.
Denise immediately recognized the woman as one of the teachers she had taught with in the past.
Instantly, her mind went to the huge list of errands in her purse. She barely had time to get it all done as it was!
In that moment, a distant memory interrupted her thoughts. It was a dark, rainy night just a few years earlier. A new mother, Denise had found herself in the parking lot of a grocery store much like this one, a cart filled to the brim, her new baby crying, and her car keys were nowhere to be found. Frantic, she had searched for the keys, rain dripping from her forehead into her purse and onto her screaming baby, aware of her galloping heart as panic rose in her chest. Right then, a stranger had stopped to help her find her keys. She remembered being filled with a such a deep sense of gratitude.
With a look of determination, Denise deposited her belongings on the seat, gently shut the door to her car, and headed straight in the direction of the woman and her children.
Pic credit: Fatherly.com