Less than 48 hours before I started to write this column, 28 people lost their lives in what was one of the worst school shootings in our history.
Twenty kids, none of them older than 7 years old, got up on what should have been a regular Friday morning. They rubbed the sleep out of their eyes, got ready for school, put on tiny back packs and out the door they went.
Twenty sets of parents got their kids out of bed, helped get them dressed and either took them to their buses or drove them to school, not knowing that the moment they walked through those doors would be the last time they would see them alive.
Any human being worth their salt will tell you that the death of a child, under any circumstances, is unnatural. A parent should never have to bury a child. It is a pain that our hearts are not programmed to bear.
When something like this happens, you start to question just about everything you thought you knew about the world and the people who live in it. Sure, you know there are bad things out there swirling around, but when something happens like this it’s so jarring that you’re forced to stop and look.
And it hurts. Whether that child is yours or mine or halfway around the world, we all feel the pain of loss when it comes to someone young. Right now, an entire nation is in pain.
With that said, I hope this column will serve as a reminder to you that not everyone is all that bad.
Like I said last week, I sent out a request to my Facebook and Beacon friends to commit a Random Act of Kindness. Then, I wanted them to email me or message me to let me know what they did, and how it made them feel.
The responses have been overwhelmingly wonderful. So, without further adieux, here is the next set of Do-Gooder Awesomeness for your reading pleasure.
Leah wrote: My husband and I were in NYC and we took a cab to Times Square to see all of the decorations. My husband proceeded to leave his cell phone in the cab, and later when we realized it was gone (at the airport); we called it and were surprised when the cabby answered the phone. The cab driver actually sent my husband his cell phone back all the way to West Virginia on his own dime. We were so touched that someone simply did the right thing and sent it back to us, we promptly sent him the money to cover his costs and a batch of homemade cookies to say thank you. We save the envelope and get it out at Christmas to remind ourselves of the spirit of giving around the holidays. It’s a nice reminder of how good people can be.
With Leah’s email, she even included a picture of the envelope that they’d kept.
Kindelyn wrote: I was waiting on a woman at the store where I work. My coworker was standing in line behind her waiting to pay for her drink while on break. The woman I was ringing up at the time turned around to my coworker and asked her if she was going to buy the drink in her hand, to which my coworker replied that she was. Before anyone knew what happened, the woman was paying for my coworker’s drink, stating that she did one Random Act of Kindness a day and this was her day. It was really nice.
One a day! That’s really nice!
Susan wrote: I read your column about the lady and the Giving Tree and decided that I would do that for the family too. It was such a great idea. Not only would I like to thank her for that, but I want her to know that I followed her example and chose three of my own to donate on behalf of family members. I wish I could have afforded more, but it was the best I could do. Merry Christmas!
Yay! I like these. Anytime a kid gets a Christmas, you can’t help but be happy, right?
Gene wrote: My wife and I are big fans of what you’re trying to do here and decided we would try and put a little something in for it. An elderly friend of ours just recently became diagnosed with a very late stage lung cancer that doesn’t look good in the long term. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of what they call a Bucket List? Well he made one of those as more of a joke I think because he’s a spitfire, but we had his wife snatch it for us so we could look over it and see what we could maybe make happen. As it turns out there were several things so we divided them up between us and some family and friends to get done. Out of twenty things he wrote down, we have made almost 3 of them come true so far, and we aren’t done yet. Here’s what we did for him and just as he wrote them. You’ll be able to tell he’s a real character.
I want a whole made from scratch Pineapple Upside Down cake to myself without having to share it with anybody. (He got four of them)
I want to find the time to organize my tools and figure out what all I have in that out building. (We all chipped in and he’s officially organized. He was especially happy that we labeled all the nuts and bolts in a little tray!)
I’d like for my kids and grandkids to be able to come home more often instead of just the one for Christmas and the one for Thanksgiving. I’d like us all to be together for a change. So maybe I need to win the lotto and move them back here or just go on a gasoline stealing spree. (We all chipped in for gas/travel money and BOTH kids and their families will be here for BOTH holidays. Lucky for us, no crime was needed.)
That is just amazing, if you ask me. Keep at it, Gene! And keep us updated!
Hannah (8 years old) wrote: I did a good thing outside today. My friend lost her bracelet outside and even when it started to get dark I looked for it and finally found it besides my mommy’s car tire. She drove me over to my friends and we gave it to her and she was so happy!
The mom added: She looked for that bracelet for what must have been three solid hours. I told her about your messaging thing and she was so excited to let you know. I’m proud of my daughter for sticking by her friend like that and working so hard to get her bracelet back to her. You know you’ve done something right if your baby is willing to do something nice like that for someone. It makes a mom feel pretty great.
That is probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. You tell Hannah she’s awesome!
And, last but not least for this week, we’ll end with me.
Mandi says: There was a woman in line in front of me at the drugstore the other day and she’d just found out that her insurance wouldn’t cover the medicine her doctor had prescribed. The pharmacist had called the doctor’s office to check for a substitution, but they were closed. I could tell the woman didn’t feel good, but she just handed it back to them anyways because she couldn’t afford it. She said she’d wait until the doctor’s office reopened to have it switched.
She walked away and was browsing the over the counter stuff when it was my turn. I quietly asked the lady at the counter how much the woman owed (expecting it to be in the 100s or more) and she said it was just 36 dollars. I offered to pay for it and the lady said I could, my only stipulation being she had to wait until I’d left to give it to the woman with a note I scratched on the receipt that said, “Merry Christmas and Get Well Soon….big or little, pay it forward when you can!”
I was glad she’d gotten her medicine. The poor woman sounded awful and waiting would probably have made it worse. Sadly, I would say a lot of people end up waiting for their medicine for just that reason. It feels good to know that at least one person didn’t have to.
Do you have anything you’d like to share? If so, I would love to hear it. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org And, it doesn’t have to be something you did for others, it can also be something someone did for you! A kindness is a kindness, so no one way is the right way.
Until next week, remember: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. –Charles Dickens