Kindness has a memory
I believe kindness has a memory. That’s why I remember Kristi, who sat with me for hours, listening, watching, probing, while I grieved my husband’s death. She cared for me after I had completed the task of caring for my husband. Kristi reached out daily to share a hug, a smile, a barstool and bouquets of sunflowers. She came to me when I didn’t know how to be kind to myself.
During those difficult times, I would have liked to think I believed in myself, protected my health and could reach out when in need, but some days I was just too darned tired. And that is when kindness stepped in. On the days I couldn’t get out of bed, Kristi arrived at my door with coffee and donuts and made me believe in living if only for that day. For the months that I couldn’t lift a finger in the kitchen, kindness arrived like Bree in Desperate Housewives, perfectly timed, perfectly prepared. Kristi had knocked and I let her in.
Kindness has a memory. In my genes, in my cells, I feel a wave of gratitude when I reminisce about the generosity of true friends and mere strangers. Six years ago, I was living in Seattle caring for my late husband who was undergoing a stem cell transplant. The apartment manager was constantly updating the lobby with paint and poinsettias to light up the lives of those who made that domain their home. He took a liking to our son, Davis, who was three at the time. One evening, the manager arrived at our door with a green tricycle, a plastic keyboard, an ocean-themed play dough kit and a soccer ball. Davis’s face was filled with surprise and delight when he began poking at the keys. Davis will remember, maybe not the house manager or his name, but the kindness associated with that act. Some day, he will do the same.
In my office, I’ve surrounded myself with mementos from those times – a picture of Davis dodging the Northwest dahlias, a Space Needle pencil and even Kristi’s bar stool pillow, gifted to me upon her move to remind me of the soft landing she offered when my husband died. After so many years, the bike has been outgrown, the soccer ball deflated and the play dough dried to a flake, but the keyboard has survived. Occasionally some youngster will begin plunking on the keyboard and the broken hum of Hot Cross Buns will send a twinge of tenderness through my soul.
I believe there are others waiting for kindness to come in their home so they can remember warmth and light and life. I won’t let it get too late before knocking on their door or they may not rise up in the morning.
* Note this is a revised essay from one sent on 12/28/06, due to an edit that was necessary.
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