Life is hectic. In between work and family, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos, feeling as if there are not enough hours in the day. I feel like this often. My days are spent shuttling my daughter to and from school, activities and appointments, all before I head to my full-time job. Parenting isn’t easy and I sometimes feel defeated. But, a recent encounter was exactly what I needed to renew my faith in society, proving that a little kindness goes a long way.
With a career that entails abnormal hours, my evenings are spent at work. Every Tuesday night, I meet my husband at our daughter’s dance class as we watch our little toddler point her toes and fumble with her tutu. As part of our Tuesday night tradition, we go out to dinner after dance. My daughter giggled and galloped as we made our way to the table, her face overflowing with pride as she sat down in her dance attire. For the next 45 minutes, we laughed, we smiled and we indulged in some delicious pub food.
I glanced at the clock and flagged over the waitress, knowing that I needed to get back to work. When we asked for our bill, a smile emerged from our waitress. “Your bill has been taken care of by the gentleman sitting at the bar,” she said. Before I could jump up to thank this kind stranger, the man had left the restaurant. Amidst our shock, the waitress returned to our table with a note.
“Stacey and Family: Thank you for all you do. Kindness is as kindness does. -Adam and Duane”
Tears began to pool in the corner of my eyes and my heart fluttered with the ultimate sense of gratefulness. We’ve been recipients of people “paying it forward”–a nice cup of coffee from the driver in front of us at Starbucks; a special treat for our daughter in the middle of toddler meltdown. But, this time was different. This random act of kindness was directed at our family. A special note to let us know that our lives and our actions are touching others…more than we ever imagined.
I’ve always been the type of person to put others before me. But, it wasn’t until our children were born in 2013, that I found a new purpose in life. After our triplets arrived, my husband and I faced a difficult journey. Two of our babies passed away within two months of their birth and we faced a heartbreaking and dark period in our lives. As we grieved our two children we lost, while celebrating our miracle survivor, countless people lined up to help us. Friends and family sent gift cards and flowers, while strangers brought us meals. During that first year, we learned that it was OK to lean on others to get us through the impossible.
As the months and years passed by, we found ways to spread kindness. Sometimes it was as simple as helping to load groceries into an elderly man’s car. Other times, we paid it forward through donations we made in honor of our triplets. Thanks to the generosity of others, we realized how much a little compassion could lead to a domino effect of kindness. And after experiencing the worst pain a parent could go through, we vowed to find happiness after our losses. Our faith and strength as a couple carried us forward, and these days our hearts are filled with joy and a sense of contentment.
As we gathered our belongings and stood up to leave the restaurant, I tucked that special note inside of my purse. The moment I arrived back at my office, I pinned the piece of paper on my wall. This wasn’t about someone paying for our meal; it was more than a charitable gesture. In a country that is divided, and a world that is sometimes overshadowed by hate and sadness, this was a reminder that there are so many good people in our society. You never know how a simple act of kindness can change the trajectory of someone’s life. All it took was a note from strangers to remind me of that.