Kindness Is a Profound Gift

Clene` - Dacula, Georgia
Entered on June 4, 2014

Tears rolled down my face because my ring didn’t fit again. But, I wasn’t crying because of a body image issue. Sadly, swelling meant one of my chronic illnesses was back for another miserable round. The crying only lasted a minute, though I was still upset. Later, one person’s act of kindness became a strengthening gift.

I got in the car and drove to a local pharmacy. A friendly representative greeted me. I returned his pleasantries with emptiness and then worried about my response. I never want to be rude to anyone. Being sick and tired made me sick and tired.

After selecting my items, I walked to his check out station. He struggled to speak. I asked him how he was feeling. To which, he replied, “Sick”, with a smile.

“What’s bothering you?” I inquired further. “Everything,” he said.

He told me about feeding his toddler age niece. And how, when she didn’t finish her food, he finished it for her. But, he forgot she was sick. That’s how he contracted her “bug.” I told him that he must be a great uncle. I received a humble, “Thank you”, in return. I thought about his obvious determination, as he managed to come to work with a positive disposition – despite being sick.

He reciprocated by asking me how I was doing. To which, I equally replied, “Sick.” Sadness filled my heart. My eyes filled up next as I told him I have congestive heart failure, though I am only thirty-one years old.

He responded to this ugly truth with beauty. Without being prompted, he stepped away from the register to give me one of the most meaningful hugs I ever experienced. His actions showed me he felt my pain, though we’d never met. No. That’s an understatement. This young man took the time and energy to experience my pain. Kindness has to be innate for him. He has to be so kind that he uses it as his moral compass.

In addition to being kind, he educated me. I learned simple and powerful truths. Like, for instance, the act of being gentle does not have to compromise the act of being brave. I learned that he is both gentle and brave. He lowered his guard, lent me the arms, which he wrapped around me and the shoulder, on which he allowed me to cry.

This cry was different than the one earlier. It lasted longer because I cried more than a week’s worth of tears due to more than a week’s worth of physical pain. Until that point, I held back because I was focused on conquering my illness. And, I maintain my conviction to this day.

What Barry did for me was special because Barry is special. His kindness gave me additional strength. One can never have too much strength when fighting a chronic illness. In the unkind world of chronic illnesses, Barry represents exactly how kindness becomes a profoundly strengthening gift. And, in this, I believe.