Last week, I found myself on an early morning flight home on my birthday, crammed in the middle seat with my laptop, trying to catch up on emails. As I sat there tapping away at the keyboard, focusing, I became aware of a deep, loud male voice from the row behind me when my ear caught the word, "birthday."
"Tomorrow is my wife's 51st birthday."
"This week is really hard, Mother's Day is Sunday."
"She got to see her daughter married on November 29th, that was the last happy thing she did."
"She told me "Good night" on December 15th, and was gone 10 minutes later. She had a stroke in bed. She just went to sleep."
"I'm taking her ashes to spread with her mother's. She's right there in my duffle bag on the floor. I'm 41, but she'll be 51 tomorrow. Tomorrow is her birthday."
I sat there stunned. My chest started aching for his pain. He was trying to medicate his wounds by drawing in anyone who would listen to him. He needed something...a connection...not necessarily a connection to his wife, but a connection to LIFE, to compassion, to someone who could deliver to him the balm of hope.
I closed my eyes for a few minutes and asked myself, "How can I best serve him under these conditions?" I remembered in my handbag I had a small, unused card. The front of the tiny card was covered with hearts and said LOVE on it. I fished it out, and listened to my heart for the words that, however brief, would somehow say what he needed to hear.
On your wife's birthday, remember the love. You are loved.
As I got off the plane, I turned around and pressed it into his hand.
"Open this tomorrow; it's a birthday gift for you." I said. His eyes welled up with tears.
"Yes, ma'am, I will do that tomorrow. Thank you, thank you so much."
I have no idea how his story ends. And that is the beauty of it. You can never know the effect a few kind words can have on a stranger, but you need to say them anyway.
The experience reminded me of the Valentine Extravaganza back surgery I had two years ago on January 31. (who turns back surgery into a party???) The doctor told me to expect to be flat out and on painkillers for about three weeks. I can barely sit still for three hours, (let alone three weeks!), so I planned to pass the time in Lala Land making Valentine cards for anyone who was lonely or would otherwise not receive one. An old calendar served as a source for cutting out thousands of little hearts that I glued onto a hand-drawn and painted tree. I put a note up on my Facebook page for people who had lost a partner or needed some cheer to email me their home address. Of course, that was CRAZY MAKING! I ended up sending out a few hundred hand-made cards... BUT IT WAS SO AWESOME! It was so fun because every single day strangers were emailing saying I made their day, they loved their card and they felt so special. In fact, people still send me notes letting me know they kept the card I made for them. It made my recovery so much easier and more joyful.
I saw this story online, and instantly loved what was happening. This woman wrote 3000 letters of encouragement to others when she was feeling suicidal. Read it here.
Offering compassionate service, encouragement and kind words to anyone can help us rise above our own funk. Yes, I said FUNK. Life can get funky...you can either go down to Funkytown or you can get out some paper and write something nice to a friend, relative or a complete stranger and possibly change their day, maybe even their life.
Action challenge: You guessed it. Send someone your words of kindness, encouragement or joy.
©Mollie Morning Star 2014 Short excerpts of this article may be shared on the internet provided a live link back to this original source is used. Reproduction in print is prohibited.