Kindness saved me. A person took me in when I was sixteen and for the first time in my life, I was safe. She didn’t have to do this; she received no compensation for taking me in, and I wasn’t very nice. I was a hostile, untrusting, and malicious teenage girl because that’s how I had survived. Those few months with her and her family changed everything I knew about people and life. She was humble and had limited resources, but she always managed to make everything stretch. She would do kind things for other people and I would sometimes tag along. I observed the grace of giving quietly, surprising someone with a meal, or helping someone through heartache. The soul needs more than words to heal. Unknowingly, I had discovered the serenity of being kind without expectation and the tranquility of choosing happiness.
I went back to my old life because there were people who needed me, but it hurt to leave. I was different when I went back; kinder, but stronger. I tried to recreate a little of the serenity she had shown me in small ways. I made time to volunteer at a women’s shelter. I would surprise people with a meal, send anonymous get-well gifts, or help someone homebound with their errands. Instead of willing myself dead, I was willing myself to live. I wasn’t sure how to live happy, but I did my best and I’m still learning.
I’m in my thirties now and her kindness still resonates in my life. She still inspires and motivates me. Without her influence, I wouldn’t be here today.
The power of her kindness wasn’t grand or loud; it was quiet and steadfast. The woman who changed my life passed away a few years after she helped me. I never had the chance to say goodbye. Small acts of kindness are my way of honoring her memory and an effort to make sure no one else goes so long without kindness in their lives.