Life came at me pretty hard two weekends ago; I was dealt a 1-2 combo straight to the heart. Saturday was my wife’s birthday which was then followed by Mother’s day. I knew I was going to get thrown around and pummeled, but I told myself I wouldn’t let the weekend beat me, no matter how bad it hurt.
A few days before Laura’s birthday, I decided to start a tradition where I would give the kids one gift each year that reminded them of their mother. I also decided that I would spread joy unexpectedly to strangers throughout the day to not only help me cope but to also honor Laura’s legacy. With that in mind, I wrote out ten notes explaining why I extended goodwill to these strangers and signed it with a drawing that the kids and I came up with while in Captiva.
Saturday didn’t start out very well. I woke up crying. I haven’t wept like that since the first month of Laura’s passing. It was raw, painful and very emotional. I think there was so much emotion built up leading to this day that my body was just letting it all out as soon as possible. From there, things started to turn around. Breakfast was delivered to us with a kind note from neighbors who we love dearly. It served as a reminder that we were not going to go into this weekend alone.
As we headed off to gymnastics, I detoured into Starbucks and went through the drive-thru. I approached the window and asked the gentleman how many orders were placed behind me. He told me, then I said I’d like to pay for all of them. He seemed a little shocked and thanked me for my goodwill. As he was ringing the orders up I asked him if any more orders came through, they did so I paid for them too.
After gymnastics, we headed down to the baseball game, and I left a few envelopes on cars in the parking lot to cover their parking. It was during the baseball game that I started to receive text messages from people about a Facebook post they were seeing that had the symbol that the kids and I have been drawing. Initially, I tried denying it. My gestures of goodwill were not meant to be public; I only wanted to honor my wife and cope with the day.
Later that day, my daughter had her dance recital. Being there without Laura was tough for me, but it helped that I was surrounded by family and friends the entire evening. At one point I almost excused myself from the room due to a dance routine that centered around moms. I then asked myself, “What would Laura do?” She’d sit there tall in her seat and live in the moment. So I did, I took it all in and savored every moment.
I completed a few more goodwill gestures, and we headed home. I was exhausted, mentally and physically and started to question whether I had it in me to do it all again the next day. I reminded myself that tomorrow is a new day, full of new experiences and it was up to me to make the best of it.
Writing this blog post was a challenge because my intentions were self-serving and not meant to be a public-facing gesture, however, after watching the Facebook post spread like wildfire across the internet and around the world, it felt right sharing this portion of my day. One small gesture served as a springboard for hope and goodwill. I won’t soon forget the impact it made with my healing and the healing of others.
I’m diverting from my usual routine and will end it with a challenge.
I challenge you to extend one small unexpected gesture of goodwill to a stranger this weekend. I firmly believe the impact of your gesture will be profound.