One night, during Jack’s life, Adam and I made a late night run to the supermarket. We left a sleeping Megan with my mom, and escaped the Ronald McDonald House for a brief chance at normalcy. This was, perhaps, the first time I had been out in public since before Jack’s birth. I remember feeling distraught about the fact that people were not going out of their way to be especially kind to me. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t being handled with extreme gentleness and tenderness. I remember making eye contact with one woman in particular and wondering why she was looking at me with apathy instead of sympathy.
In an instant, I realized that I had no idea what she might be experiencing at that time in her life. Maybe she too was going through something terrible and heartbreaking, and maybe she too was at the supermarket for a much needed escape. Suddenly the small Iowa grocery store was filled with people who deserved my unconditional kindness and love.
Maybe I was the only one in the supermarket that evening whose heart was so very near broken. But I knew how I wanted to be treated by those who didn’t even know I was hurting, and thus I learned how I should have been treating others: because for all I knew…they sure could have been suffering and hurting and in despair.
The lesson that night hit me with great power and I walked out of the store with my shoulders a little straighter and my head a little higher. Since then, however, the impact of that lesson has tapered off. I have to remind myself often to “never suppress a generous thought” and to “assume to best of people”. I have to remember to smile and say “hello”. But doing so actually helps me to be happier. I can’t uplift others without being pulled up with them.
“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” — Sir Matthew James Barrie