A few days after I had Vivvi, I had to make a grocery run. Vivvi was napping, husband Wally could watch her, and Wally Ben and I needed to get out. After a few promises to not lift WV into the cart on my own, I was out the door and free!

On the way, I planned my response if some kind-hearted cashier congratulated me and asked when I was due, since I had the look of a 20 week belly on my middle. Carry the 2, minus the glow, and my answer was clearly August 15. It was going to be a girl and we were going to name her Vivvi and she was going to be 6 pounds and 10 ounces and 20 inches long.

Wally V and I enjoyed the rush of being away from our little human who was holding us captive, but only for the first 20 minutes of shopping. I had volunteered to bring a dish to a family event, so my list was specific. What I thought would be a quick trip was dragging longer and longer with each ingredient. Certain my little lump of love would be waking up soon at home and needing me, I approached the deli counter.

I waited as I decided what I wanted. A few people were in front of me and I didn’t see a ticket dispenser, so I stood there stupidly waiting my turn. Then 4 people approached at once and took tickets. From the ticket dispenser. That in my muddled sleep deprived mind I hadn’t seen.

I grabbed the next number and stood. And waited. And imagined Vivvi’s little waking cries. WV bugged me about what was taking so long. And just when I thought I couldn’t bear to wait another two people, a man turned around when his number was called and, seeing impatient Wally in the cart, he offered me his spot.

I threw my emotionally charged 20 week pregnant looking self at him sobbing thank you, thank you, thank you, and snotted all over his old man vest because I couldn’t contain how touched I was at his kindness. When my face, sloppy with tears, looked up at his to say thank you again for the hundredth time, he said, “When are you due?”

That last bit with the throwing and the hugging and the sobbing and the snotting did not happen. But that was how I felt. (And never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?) I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I am hoping my thank you was audible. I was too busy fighting back tears because of his kindness and trying not to bellow while ordering my thinly sliced ham to double check that this kind stranger knew that he was (and still is) my deli counter hero. I went home to my newborn who I missed and was charged with love for the world because someone gave me their place in line.

I tell this story because my sister’s friend, Alison, was recently walking down a hallway, and a stranger passing the opposite direction smiled at her, and this smile made her tear up. This wasn’t just any walk down any hallway. She was on her way to a room where they were going to fit a mask to her face to protect it during her upcoming radiation treatments for her recently diagnosed brain tumor. And she was on her way from a separate wing of the hospital, where her four year old son was being weaned off of his seizure medications so they could find out if he was a good candidate for brain surgery to possibly rid him of the seizures that have plagued him since he was born. Separate tragedies in the same family, connected by one hallway walk. To that stranger, it was just a kind smile. But to Alison, it was kindness and hope and reassurance and strength. (You can read more about Alison’s journey here.)

You never know what kind of a walk a person is on. You never know what kind of a grocery trip a person is taking. You never know when your simple acts of kindness and humanity are served up to the right person at just the right time. And if you have been kind, perhaps you also don’t know that some of that kindness lasts forever in the people you’ve shared it with. Some of it is even talked about and passed on in stories years later. Some of it is multiplying now, and you don’t even know it. All you did is give someone your place in line. All you did is smile at someone you passed in a hallway. And you went on with your day. And the world was rocked.

Privacy Preference Center