[What I had for breakfast today: steamed jasmine rice, a fresh egg, pickled mustard greens and daikon-and-cabbage kimchi.]
These last few weeks, we've all been walking around wounded. You, and me, and everyone. There's more hurt and loss in the news than feels bearable, even shared across all of our shoulders.
Following all the hurt and loss in the news, there's anger. All over social media, in the comments section of every news piece, there's anger. It's understandable; there is a lot to be angry about. But what I'm asking all of us to do today is think about what we can do to help carry our shared burden, and to avoid adding weight to it. We're all hurting, all in the same boat, even though it seems like we are shouting across lines that we made up--lines named things like "religion" or "nationality" or "political party" or "sexuality" or "race." Everyone knows what it's like to love and be loved. Nobody wants to live in a state of fear. We're all here together.
We can throw blame at each other all day long, but that doesn't help us move forward. What helps us move forward is kindness. What helps us heal is letting all of us heal; reaching our hands in love towards the stricken among us, right now. I don't need to list for you who the stricken among us are: they are all of us. Instead of judging anyone; instead of trying to wound someone in the hopes it makes you hurt less (it won't); instead of blaming or othering or fighting: let's ease this collective burden with kindness. Check in with your friends. Cultivate empathy in unexpected places, because I promise, empathy changes minds more effectively than rage.
Anyway. Today is the anniversary of one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me, and for Kamal. Here's the story of that. It's not the kind of story that makes the news, and it's not intended to ease any of the grief springing from recent events. It is intended to inspire us all towards acts of kindness that we might not have considered, and to remind us that there are an infinite number of ways to be kind, and mainly it is intended to try to thank my amazing friend Sally.
A little over a year ago, Kamal and I were at the West End Farmer's Market, and a nice lady gave Kamal a heart-shaped mylar balloon. He was overjoyed, alight, in love. He held his balloon and admired it, and then the string slipped out of his hand. It took him a minute to understand what was happening, and when he did, I watched my child's heart break.
He cried and cried and cried. Later, soothed by many hugs and kisses and a cookie from the Criminal Baking Company and a bit of a bike ride, he sat on our front porch, processing, looking just grievously discouraged.
Later, drifting off to a nap in my arms, he murmured, "I know. I'll just get some wings like a bird and flap them and then fly up to find my shiny red heart balloon." And then he fell asleep, and I cried, so sad for him, so scared about whether my own heart could take all the heartbreak that I know is in store for him, because he's human, and we all have to face our share of heartbreak.
I posted about it all on Facebook, and got some lovely sympathetic messages from my lovely friends, which helped me so much. And then my friend Sally messaged me asking for my mailing address, which I gave her without thinking much about it.
AND THEN, a few days later, a box came in the mail with Kamal's name on it. And there was a note in it. And, well, pictures are better here than words.
Will you look at his face? Look how healed he was by this act of kindness. He kept saying "They really wanted to find me! They came all the way to my HOUSE!" This was Sally, who, by the way, has five kids of her own (FIVE KIDS YOU GUYS) and still found the time and energy to bless my one child with this much love. This was a friend stepping up in an amazing, creative, unexpected way. This is the standard of friendship, of community, by which I want to measure myself. This was love, manifested in a real and strong and unbelievably healing way. This is the kind of miracle that we humans are able to work--reaching out, listening, giving with kindness, with clarity, and with specific intention. My friend Sally, you guys. My friend who I didn't know well in high school but who, from eight hundred miles away and via the Internet, has generously shared with me her professional counsel as an accomplished lactation consultant, and her gentle support and validation in all kinds of parenting dilemmas--my friend who returned to my child his lost heart.
There aren't words enough to thank someone for this, but: thank you, Sally. This was a beautiful and spectacular gift. This was above and beyond. This is how we heal, from little wounds and big ones--kind thoughts turned into kind actions. Because we're fragile humans, there will never be a shortage of wounds in our world. But we can make it easier for each other. Let's make it easier for each other, friends, every chance we get.