Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Random Acts of Kindness

"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, most underrated agent of human change."
~ Bob Kerrey

I woke this morning to a damp and dreary day. A good day to rest, read, and reflect - especially since we are still recouping from our recent trip to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

This trip can take a lot out of us. It's not just that air travel has become more difficult. It's also the emotional stress of not knowing what we might hear from the hematologist, the physical stress of pushing John everywhere in a wheelchair, the physical stress for him of yet another bone marrow biopsy.  And when we're done, managing another day of travel and our morale for at least another week until we receive the biopsy report.

We've made this trip three times within 17 months. Each with a similar routine, yet each yielding radically different reactions. The first visit we met with the hematologist assigned to us, an austere Russian trained research physician, whose honesty bordered on bluntness, a shocking confrontation with reality while we were already shell-shocked. By our second visit, she was warmer, gentler, but the news she delivered still bleak and unpromising. Still no cure on the horizon. No appropriate clinical trials available. And her concern for John's appearance disconcerting. The biopsy took two attempts, and the results still were inconclusive. Overall, every bit as challenging a visit. Maybe even more so.

It was a surprise, therefore, when we both affirmed as we left our accommodations that this trip was a much more positive experience even though we couldn't pinpoint why at first. Yes, our doctor was even warmer, more personable, more patient with our questions, clearer with her answers.  But still no cure, no appropriate clinical trials. The biopsy went smoother. But still no results yet.

And then it hit us in the airport as someone offered to help with our luggage. This what was different. The constant stream of kindness that had enveloped us the entire trip. People who lifted luggage without being asked. People who held doors and offered help with the wheelchair. People who not only gave directions but walked with us to be sure we were headed the right way - and not because they were paid to do so. People who smiled first. People who genuinely seemed pleased to see us and willing to listen. People who reminded me with every gesture that there are wonderful, kind and decent people all around us.

Simple, unrequested, unexpected acts of kindness. I'd like to think I would always be aware of and grateful for them. But I suspect they have meant so much more because I am so much more aware of our fragility, so much more susceptible to cynicism and despair. Powerful, inexpensive but not underrated in this household.

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1 comment:

  1. Did you post this to the "Simple Kindness" FB page? You should.