By Mary Cucarola – 9/2/20
An elderly gentleman had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, a four-year-old boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there with him. When his mother asked what he said to the neighbor, the little boy said. “Nothing, I just helped him cry”.
Big hearts come naturally to children and at the same time I see it in grown-ups, too. In order to fully appreciate what kindness is, you have to experience loss or maybe you are one of the lucky ones who recognize its tenderness naturally.
Kindness helped me cry without shame after I lost my son. Kindness shared my vulnerability and echoed my grieving when I needed it the most. Kindness didn’t try to fix it for me, but came to weep with me.
Kindness comes from big hearts, like:
When my sister showed up at my door from 1,000 miles away in less than 24 hours after my son was found and helped me cry for three weeks. She had to take unpaid time off work from her job.
When my sister-in-law set up the memory table at my son’s funeral reception. If I remember right, she had a golf course floral arrangement made for him, too. I know she took charge of more things, when I could not function.
When my childhood friend boldly called to make me laugh in the midst of the rawness of my sorrow, and then he cried with me.
When the religious education director of my son’s grade school sent me a handwritten note that she would like to offer me weekly grief counseling. She helped me cry for over a year.
When the mother-in-law of one of my son’s best friends invited me to play in a woman’s golf league during the first year of my deepest grief, and treated me like I was just one of the “girls”, inviting me to dinner and drinks afterwards. This simple gesture kept me alive.
I know kindness, almost like a spiritual event, as a sacred contract acknowledging the importance of shared well-being and a healer of damaged spirits.
More big hearts, like:
When my son’s business partner invited me skiing a few months after his death and sat with me on the patio of the ski lodge afterwards, enjoying the warm mountain sunshine on our faces, without the need for any conversation at all.
When my coworker texted me for months to tell me she was thinking of me. I could hear her tears through her texts. She felt like my cheerleader, and I was a one-member team fighting hard to win at the game of grief.
When the volunteers for our charity golf tournament come year after year to volunteer all day and evening to help us raise money for my organization, Cody’s Fresh Start Charity Works, without asking for anything in return. It inspires me to continue on no matter how hard it gets.
When my son’s grade school teacher is still the first one to donate an item to our silent auction and the first one to show up at our fundraisers. She dropped off a beautiful crystal vase today for our online silent auction.
When I receive 20 pieces of gorgeous handmade jewelry in the mail to be donated to our online silent auction from the mother of a young man my organization helped with treatment. She has been thanking me over and over again for the past four years, even though her son did not make it. He passed away from an overdose the day after he left treatment.
I am reminded that kindness is an action, more than a thought or a feeling. It is compassion more fully realized.
And more big hearts, like:
When my son’s girlfriend is as devoted to me as she was to him, even after all of these years. Grief can’t be banished, but it can be acknowledged and worked through when you do it with someone who is genuine in her love and kindness for you and visa-versa. Our bond is too strong to be broken.
When my granddaughter is there to comfort me when I have a meltdown, without asking why or saying a word – just wrapping her arms around me, even in the middle of a pandemic.
I am blessed to have so many big hearts in my life.
Grieving has made me more than I would have been without it. I would never have chosen its relentless roller coaster of introspection, but at times I think it chose me. I can’t help but understand the deep need for kindness now, because it saved me from a life of bitterness and isolation. It must have the capacity to save others.
Today, I wake up with a slight smile that hints at a return to normalcy, mainly because of the many who have helped me cry, just like the little four-year-old boy sitting in the lap of his elderly neighbor.
Mary Cucarola – 9/2/20