I owe my daughter’s life to strangers I’ll never meet, and a small measure of my spiritual well-being to people I barely know. They have unexpectedly given me gifts as large and meaningful as any I’ve ever received, and in so doing, have given me glimpses of God.
The first two strangers to intervene on our behalf donated the pints of blood my daughter received on day two in the hospital. They were just the first of dozens of givers of life. I can’t adequately thank them for giving her back to us, but I have already begun donating blood myself to pay it forward to the next child who needs it.
Other kindnesses ranged from small to huge. I was four days into a new job when I suddenly disappeared for a month in the hospital. Though they barely knew me, my new team members became part of a chain of friends who kept meals flowing to my husband and daughter left behind. A dear friend’s sister-in-law offered to let me shower, bake cookies, and share in her golden retriever’s therapeutic powers while unexpectedly stranded in a strange city. The post office clerk, who noticed the address on the box of my daughter’s hair she was donating to make a wig for another chemo patient, asked her name and said she’d pray for her healing. A local pastor, a friend of our own at home, prayed with me at the hospital, and his congregation sent my daughter a care package of thoughtful gifts when she was at her sickest. My young stylist’s assistant volunteered to come to our home and give my daughter a makeover as a gift to cheer her up. A young pilot, friend of a former co-worker’s son, volunteered to fly us to the transplant hospital to reduce the load on our fragile daughter. Fellow histio moms, who live in the transplant city, offered their washing machines and even their spare rooms to us. Think about that: offering your home to a complete stranger. One of them even befriended my daughter, regularly visiting her and taking her small gifts to cheer her up. All of these people have left a profound impression on me.
We are also so deeply grateful to our family and friends for everything they have done to support us; they have truly made the difference, keeping this crisis from breaking us. But the completely unexpected kindness of strangers has been a surprising silver lining through this ordeal. So much of what makes the evening news shows humankind at our worst. But these small, unanticipated acts of compassion from complete strangers have reinforced my faith in humanity. Several have told me they are just paying it forward after events in their own lives. I will honor their gifts by spending the rest of my days finding ways to do the same.
“We all have life storms, and when we get through them and we recover from them, we should celebrate that we got through it. No matter how bad it may seem, there’s always something beautiful you can find.” –Mattie Stepanek