Kindness of a Stranger
What wonderful weather we have had lately. So nice to see it finally cooling off! My family and I celebrated the reprieve from the heat by spending a glorious Sunday afternoon at the park followed by a meal at our favorite place Mimi's Cafe. It is always interesting, to say the least, to watch the expression on people's faces as my husband and I walk in with four young children, diaper bag in tow, obvious looks of distress on our faces. They seated us in a booth (strategically placed in a corner) across from two elderly couples. Our lunch went as usual. Our baby, Joshua, now ten months old crawling from sibling to sibling, parent to parent; grabbing glasses of water, spilling food in synchronicity with an occasional yelp. Our two older boys, 9 & 10, poking at each other and each others food. Our six year old daughter admonishing the boys at every opportunity. Giving them step by step instructions on probable chores they'd be performing when we got home as punishment for their incessant torturing of each other in public. Attempting to maintain damage control, I concentrated on keeping voice levels down to a mild yell, oblivious to the existence of other human beings in the restaurant. After our meal was over, the older woman sitting across from us said, "What a beautiful family!" Startled that she wasn't annoyed by our presence, I said, "Thank you. We think they are beautiful too!" Noticing that Stevie Jo, our daughter, was the lone little girl of the family she said, "Too bad you only have one daughter. Are you going to try for another?"
My husband immediately looked over at me, holding his breath, waiting
for my reply. My children were silent, they too waiting for my reply.
Well, here was my chance. My opportunity to brandish my openness and honesty
about the death of our baby girl. I responded with summoned confidence,
"We do have another daughter, but she is in Heaven."
She smiled and went back to her meal. The obvious discomfort we all felt did not surprise me. I have felt that discomfort many times in the more than three years since her death (as every bereaved parent can relate to). As the elderly couples left the restaurant, the woman who asked about our children approached our table. With kind, loving eyes she took my hand and said, " I am so very sorry about the death of your little girl. I can tell you are good parents and love her very much." I was speechless, tongue tied. I felt like the public feels when they do not know how to respond to the death of our child. "Thank you, I am sorry too," I replied sheepishly.
She smiled and walked away.
I looked at my children and began to cry. That woman will never know how much the compassion she extended to me that day touched my heart. Her warmth and empathy reaffirmed my hopes that one day, people will unite to support grieving parents, regardless of the age or cause of death of the child. That was her random act of kindness to me. A gift for which I will be eternally grateful.