I got locked out of the house this morning. This happens more often than I care to admit. I like to walk the kids to school most days and I usually yell over my shoulder on the way out the door, “Honey, don’t lock the door when you leave.” Today, I forgot. So, that’s why Mary Hazel and I got locked out of the house this morning. We summoned the key master who had just arrived at work and waited for his return. I thought about being impatient. I thought about being put out. I thought about being huffy. But then I noticed how much fun the baby was having climbing up and down (and up and down and up and down) the steps in front of the house. “One, two! One, two!” When she tired of that, she sat down in the dirt and picked grass. After that, we sorted the mail and ripped up catalogues. Good times. Other than having to wash another pair of pants, I rather enjoyed our stolen time together. Lemons. Lemonade.
I really love that baby. Like really. A lot. I think about the bullet we dodged every minute of every day. Even when I’m doing other things, like laundry, I’m aware of the relief that inhabits that very particular part of my brain. It’s like a blanket that’s just the right weight. It’s there even when I forget it’s there.
When Mary Hazel had her radical nephrectomy in July, she received several units of blood during her operation. I wondered at the time whose blood it was. When they donated it, did they know they were helping save the life of an innocent baby? I wanted to thank them. So, today I did. After I dropped the baby off at school, I turned right instead of left and found myself at The Blood Connection, a spa-like retreat on one of the busiest commercial roads in Greenville. I was greeted promptly, offered a snack, and taken to a beautiful waiting area. Donna called me back immediately for my physical. I was pleased to see that my iron level was rockin’ for this strict vegetarian. That’s always good news. I was seated next to some very kind folks who also took a few minutes to just do something nice today and we had a genuinely fun time chatting about the strangely warm weather, Sarah McLaughlin’s angelic voice, and “It’s happy hour somewhere!”. I finished my donation and was rewarded with two free movie tickets and a really nice long-sleeved t-shirt. “No, wait,” I said. “I don’t need anything. I wanted to do this.” Donna put the tickets in my hand anyway and said, “Honey, we wouldn’t be here without you. We appreciate YOU.” Bonus. If Donna could also babysit for us, so Russell and I could go on a date, that would be the biggest act of kindness ever. Just when I thought my feel-good session of the day was over, I was led to a cafe – with a Keurig machine and all the salty snacks a girl could crave. They had me at Keurig. I sat down and chatted with some very nice ladies. It was oddly…fun. Somehow, I was the one who ended up feeling spoiled after my conscious effort to do something nice for someone else. That was unexpected. The Blood Connection is smart. I’ll definitely be back to donate in three months for more relaxing music, enjoyable conversation, and free coffee.
OK, Universe, I paid back the blood you so graciously provided to us in our greatest time of need. I hope that it finds its way to another child in need whose parents are nervously pacing in a waiting room nearby. I hope it helps make the difference between life and death. For an anonymous act of kindness, I don’t think I could ask for a more rewarding outcome.
As I told a dear friend of mine yesterday, I am both flattered beyond measure and a little nervous about the attention this modest project is getting. I worry that I am bringing too much attention to myself when really the point is to bring it to others. Social media is a powerful tool. The positive spin is that I am seeing the ripple effect already. Several of you have shared with me your inspiration to perform acts of kindness of your own. I love hearing about them. Sharing these stories with each other creates such a positive energy that perpetuates the movement. I have been thinking a lot about people I grew up with who have dedicated their whole lives to helping others. Among you are teachers, doctors and nurses, missionaries, members of the Peace Corps, and the list goes on. You inspire me. I feel like what I’ve been doing is dabbling and you all have made lifetime commitments of it. I really do feel quite sheepish when I think about these relatively small contributions I am making, but maybe by bringing attention to kindness, in whatever measurable way, I might inspire my own children to set lofty and virtuous goals for their own life works.