What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? If someone asked you that question, would you be able to answer it immediately? I could not. My mind went to so many different people, so many different times, so many different acts of kindness. How could I ever select the one that was the creme de la creme? And the answer is, I can’t. I wish I could share each one, but today I am going to tell you about two. One was a group of perfect strangers who surrounded me like family during a time when I was helpless to return any of their kindness. The other is my cousin, who loves my daughter like her own.
It was July 7, 1996. I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with my first and only child, trying to enjoy the cookout and ignore the intense pain I was experiencing. Later that night, as I squeezed the doctor’s hand in the ER , I begged God not to let anything happen to my baby. After medication, months of bedrest, more medication, and ultimately the sweet grace of God, that little girl was born only 3 1/2 weeks before her due date.
The wrench in the works (besides the Little Miss trying to make an early appearance!) was our scheduled move from Maryland to Alabama that same July. In Maryland, I had friends and neighbors helping out; in Alabama, we knew no one. Until my husband met our neighbor, Peggy, at the mailbox.
Half of the people in our apartment complex were there for an 11 month military assignment, so people tended to get to know each other quickly. As soon as she found out my situation, she was at my door. Peggy had a toddler, and 3 days earlier had just lost her second child, who was born prematurely with a fatal condition. But she walked into my apartment, spent several hours encouraging me, and then — are you ready for this? — she offered to be my “personal baby shopper.”
Since we knew we would be moving to Alabama months before our baby was born, the only item my husband and I had purchased was a crib which we had fallen in love with. Other than that, we had nothing. Nothing! Peggy sat with me and made a list of everything I would need, from night lights to Mylicon gas drops (I didn’t even know what those were!), and then she went out and bought it all. She even went to stores and brought back fabric samples of bedding sets because I had not even started looking at those yet! Did I mention I had nothing?
She stocked my home for a new baby, all while grieving the loss of her own just days earlier.
How do you ever thank someone for that? Even as I write this 19 years later, I still don’t know.
A few weeks later there was a knock on the door, and suddenly our apartment was filled with about 20 men and women, most of whom I had never seen in my life, all bearing armloads of baby gifts. These weren’t just little token gifts, these were the types of gifts you would give your closest friend! Peggy had organized this shower, told everyone what we had and what we still needed, and they blessed our socks off! These same people banded together with several more and supplied meals for the next three months.
These people I didn’t even know, these perfect strangers, were there for me when I could do nothing to repay them. They were there when Little Miss was born. And they were there 2 days later when we almost lost her. They became my support system, my sanity, my friends.
The dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” How do I define kindness? Peggy.She stocked my home for a new #baby while grieving the loss of her own. How do you thank someone… Click To Tweet
There is another woman on my mind as I write this. Cris, my cousin and childhood best friend who, after years of losing touch and going different ways, became again one of my best friends. Who, when I lost my dad, left her vacation and came to me when she knew I needed someone who understood what I was feeling.
Cris, who had and lost a beautiful daughter before mine was born. Who has loved my child like her own all these years, just like she loves her nieces. Who is simply one of the strongest people I know. And her only response when I say this is, “It’s really a testimony to God’s Grace in my life more than it is about me.”
This post is dedicated to you, Cris, as you celebrate your sweet daughter’s birthday this month. You lost one child, but have mothered two others into beautiful adulthood. You have had to bear what no mother should, and after 22 years you still miss that part of your heart, yet there is no resentment. You, like Peggy, have chosen to turn your pain into kindness and love fiercely. Thank you for being an example to me of strength, of grace, and of kindness. Thank you for being my friend, not just my family.
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