Relationships

A Small Kindness I’ll Never Forget

The Beatles

When I was pregnant with my first child, my doctor discovered a grapefruit-sized cyst in my right ovary…

It was most likely nothing, she said; a benign blob that had probably always been there, possibly blooming after marinating in pregnancy hormones. But it had to come out because if it were to rupture, I could go into septic shock. And we had to test it to rule out cancer.

Since we couldn’t remove it while I was pregnant, my doctor explained that I would need major surgery within a year of having my baby. Admittedly, I break out in boob sweat at the mere thought of a hospital. The idea of surgery produced full-body shudders.

Caught up in the thrill of new motherhood, I was able to put the grapefruit out of my mind. The days were joyful blurs of nursing, diapering and binge-watching my son, Owen, as though he were a TV. In the middle of the night, however, my postpartum mind replayed worst case scenarios on loop. What if it was cancer? What if I didn’t wake up? I pictured a knife slicing through skin, flesh, muscle and organ. I imagined a version of Owen’s life without me in it.

Me being me, I waited the full year, just before Owen’s first birthday. I wanted to face my fears like a mother, bravely and gracefully, but I was struggling. From the backseat of a taxi, my husband and I watched the sun rise over the East River, as we headed to the hospital, quietly holding hands. The hospital was a linoleum hive of early morning bustle; for some people, this was just another day at the office. I remember pulling on fuzzy hospital-issued socks with trembling legs and chattering teeth. Is nothing more vulnerable than having your bare ass exposed in a mauve hospital gown?

Handing the nurse my belongings felt uncomfortably symbolic. Here are my jeans, I thought, riddled with nerves. My purse, my dreams, my life. Take them.

“I’m a mother,” I tried explaining, through tears. “I have a little boy.”

The nurse had short blonde hair and don’t-bullshit-me eyes. Her stoic, tough-love demeanor reminded me of Frances McDormand. She looked me squarely in the face and told me it was going to be okay. She let me squeeze her hand as my IV was administered, and she rubbed my shoulder.

There are few things more terrifying than being wheeled awake into an operating room. The room is blindingly white, and with my contact lenses removed, the semi-circle of surgeons and nurses appeared to be aliens waiting to harvest my organs. Furthering my bewilderment, Led Zeppelin was blasting on a boom box.

I know it’s un-cool to admit this, but I have never really liked Led Zeppelin. I get why other people like them but to me, they sound like a duet between a jackhammer and a cat in heat. If this were to be the last song I would hear in my life, please god, don’t let it be Kashmir.

I jokingly asked if the DJ was taking requests.

“You don’t like Zeppelin?” a nurse asked, in his thick Queens accent. “Who do you like?”

I heard myself muttering the first band that came to mind: “The Beatles?”

Someone actually left the room in search of a Beatles CD but returned empty-handed.

“Well, I guess we should just call the whole thing off,”  I said, laughing nervously.

They stood around me in awkward silence. I could see in their faces how much they wanted to soothe me; they were all trying so hard to be cheerful and upbeat, but the truth was, the show must go on.

Then, from somewhere behind me, outside my peripheral vision, a lone male voice started to sing. “In the town, where I was born… lived a ma-a-an who sailed to sea…”

He was slowly joined in chorus by the other surgeons, nurses, assistants and anesthesiologists, in what was possibly the strangest, sweetest, most tuneless version of Yellow Submarine ever to be sung. 

“…and he told us of his life in the la-a-and of submarines…”

I counted backwards to a song I had loved since childhood; a song I sang nightly to my baby. I relaxed as the medicine took me under and I let go. 

Next thing I knew, it was over and, thankfully, I was ok.

When placing your life in someone’s hands, you want to know that they are particularly skilled hands. You want the best surgeon that exists in the universe. But beyond skill, beyond technology, medicine and state-of-the-art equipment, the thing you remember long after you’ve healed is human compassion. 

It was a simple gesture — impulsive and somewhat goofy — for someone to sing Yellow Submarine to an excessively nervous young mother who would most likely by all statistics get to go home and live a healthy life. Others may have been put off by my jitters — they see far worse on a daily basis — but in my personal hour of desperation, this medical staff displayed a kindness I will not soon forget.

I find the small kindnesses in life to be the most poignant because they are not expected. There is no obligation by the giver. They may not even know you. But in that moment, they mean everything.

In this current climate of gasp-inducing headlines and daily doses of wobbly uncertainty, the world can feel cold and sometimes cruel.

On those days when we wake up feeling tender and raw after a sleepless night, when an old friend mysteriously un-friends us on social media, when our children ask us with worried eyes if they will be safe at school, when the week’s small slights and emotional bruises strung together threaten death by a million paper cuts… look for the small kindnesses.

They are there. You will always find them.

Here are mine from last week: Homemade biscotti wrapped in tinfoil, left on my doormat from my upstairs neighbor. Thoughtful, detailed praise of my work, via Facebook by someone I have never met. A childhood friend who listened — really listened — to a particular heartbreak of mine; who offered no advice or admonishment; and when I cried, he cried too.

But on a particularly hard day or week, if even the smallest kindnesses seem to be elusive — be kind to yourself. There is tremendous kindness in a hot shower. A steamy, glasses-fogging bowl of soup. Cat cow in your pajamas. A badly sung song (even Kashmir) sung from your heart, with all the air in your lungs.


Lisa Rubisch started her career at MTV and now directs commercials and music videos for major brands at Park Pictures in New York. She also contributes writing to websites, anthologies and books, and has written two other essays for Cup of Jo.

P.S. Happiness vs. wholeness.

(Photo of the Beatles.)

  1. Jill says...

    I could so relate to this beautiful column. It is so very true. When I was diagnosed very unexpectedly with cancer in my 40s, every small kindness from medical staff in particular, whether receptionists, nurses or doctors, had a profound effect on me. I felt incredibly raw and vulnerable, with no defenses, and every positive word or thoughtful gesture was felt deeply; I grasped onto it for dear life. The unbelievable thoughtfulness of friends and family and neighbors, feeling so completely loved and cared for, was an amazing silver lining to a very difficult and frightening experience. After I recovered, my parents both started volunteering in their local hospital, and I was really touched, because now they could be that caring, kind person who helped someone incredibly afraid like me.

  2. Tricia M says...

    This is such a lovely, lovely post! During a prolonged labour with my first baby, my husband slipped out for a quick break. I was terrified, exhausted and turned to the young doctor present saying “Will you hold my hand?” He did so. Later, he slipped out when my daughter was born so that we could all be together. He said he always” teared up” when the babies were born.

  3. Lyuba says...

    Absolutely beautiful piece! Vivid and touching. Thank you so much for sharing this, and writing so eloquently.

  4. Sarah says...

    I’m graduating medical school tomorrow, and I can’t stop thinking about this essay! I’m going onto my residency in Ear Nose and Throat, a surgical subspecialty. After spending countless hours in an OR, it’s easy to forget that for many of our patients it’s their first time there and everything we do in pre-op has profound significance for them, even if it seems small to us. This is an important reminder – it made me tear up and I passed it on to all my future surgeon friends. Love Cup of Jo!

  5. Tori says...

    My story feels relatively minor in the midst of some of these but it was a kindness I won’t forget. When I was in labor with my first child, we made it to the hospital before the extreme part of labor began, as my water broke at home before I had major contractions. Once I really began laboring in the delivery room, I clutched my nurse’s hands and looked into her eyes trying to communicate my desperation and I guess just PAIN in that moment. She looked back with the most bored, “over it” expression and turned to my husband and said, “I think you should come over here.” This in my mind translated to, “This is not part of my job.” I felt embarrassed and as though i had trusted someone when I shouldn’t have at what was one of if not the most vulnerable times in my life. Thankfully, her shift ended soon after and my new nurse, Chris, more than made up for that experience. She was the kindest, most attentive but no-nonsense lady. She helped me hold off on Pitocin when I thought I didn’t need it (and I did NOT, water broke at 3:30 am and baby born at 10:30 AM), made my OB come in early when I told them the baby was coming (He wanted me to wait until 11am? He’s great, but that wasn’t going to happen). Helped me switch sides constantly, put pillows between my legs just to make me comfy– as it wasn’t something I was thinking about…Anyway, it wasn’t one sweeping gesture but all her care and kindness made the birth and labor of my daughter so sweet and special that I am actually looking forward to it again! Wish I could give her a hug.

  6. My grandma was very sick while I was growing up so I spent most of my childhood at the hospital frequently with her, sometimes even sleeping in the waiting room. My Dad also worked at a hospital so I always felt really comfortable at hospitals in general. When I was a teenager, my parents moved out of state and I was on my own for the first time. I felt scared and alone and I went to a hospital alone to eat at the cafeteria. It seems really odd in retrospect, but I guess I must have just wanted that delicious cafeteria frozen yogurt bar at a place that felt familiar. I hadn’t been to that hospital since it had been remodeled and had no idea they no longer accepted cash as payment (it was card only for patients/families, and staff had pre-paid cards they filled) and all I had was cash. I was at the cashier, giant bowl of frozen yogurt in hand, lost and alone and crying. A kind nurse that worked there was on her lunch break saw me, came over and swiped her employee card, paying for my food. I tried to give her the cash and she refused, said it was on her. This small act of kindness was over 10 years ago and I still think fondly of that nurse. When I was recently in the ER, I was wheeled all over for various testing and I was shaking and freezing. A sweet tech got me a warm blanket and so many of the nurses and staff helped me with little things NOT in their job description (like opening my wallet to get my health insurance card for me when I physically could not). I am so grateful for these small acts and try to pay them forward whenever possible, whether at work or just in my personal life.

  7. Layne says...

    As a nurse who performs small acts like this every day I’m thankful for people like you who notice. Glad to hear it all turned out okay :)

  8. Esther says...

    Weeping at my desk. This was such a touching post. What a reminder of how much a small kindness can mean to someone.

  9. Stephanie says...

    Actually crying at my desk. Beautiful.

  10. Well great, now I’m getting all kinds of emotional over a latte in a coffee shop. I loved this! Such a poignant reminder of the importance of kindness in such a tumultuous time. Thank you!

  11. Oof! I have been meaning to read this for weeks and finally took the time today and am SO GLAD I did. This is such a beautiful, meaningful piece. Love to you all!

  12. Anne says...

    This is the best. I want to share your story with everyone I’ve ever met! Crying tears of gratitude and joy over here. I have benefitted from more kindness than I could ever possibly share. One notable moment: The day after my husband and I were married at city hall we treated ourselves nose-bleed tickets to the Yankees to celebrate. The couple sitting behind us struck up a conversation with us and shared that they had been married 20 years. Near the end of the game they handed us a 20 dollar bill that they both signed wishing us a long, happy marriage. We hung their bill up on the wall in our apartment and plan to save it until our 20 year anniversary when we hope to pass it along to another young couple just starting out.

  13. Daynna says...

    This was so, so lovely. Tears sprang to my eyes when the whole room joined in to sing. And my goodness, can she write!

  14. Julia Rezsnyak says...

    This essay had me in tears this morning. Not only because of its beauty but it reminded me of a tender kindness I received after my father passed away abruptly.

    My dad would go to the grocery store almost every morning to get his food for the day. This always included a trip to the bakery where he would get bread and often a confection. Part of his routine was to check-in with all the workers, asking them about their families, harass them in a funny way, or tell them funny jokes. He was *that* guy.

    When he passed away and it was time to plan the funeral, I found myself in uncharted territory. I had planned every other type of party: baby showers, birthday parties, weddings, open houses, but never a funeral. Did people have food at a funeral? I didn’t know but I thought that it would be a nice thing to do. So I set off to the grocery store to order a bakery tray of his favorite desserts.

    When I arrived at the bakery, I was greeted by a very nice woman and I explained to her what I wanted. That’s when I mentioned my dad’s name and her face dropped. “Oh no! Not Pat! Oh!” and her tears started to flow down her cheek. One her co-workers saw her crying and immediately came over to her. “Pat passed away yesterday,” she told her co-worker, sobbing. She started was crying too and word spread. Soon, every one of the women was crying! Each of them came to me, telling me stories about my dad. How he would bring them little figurines, how’d he wear a hat every time one of the ladies was working because he knew it was her favorite color, how my dad put new tires on her car when she couldn’t afford to buy them. (My dad was a tire salesman.)

    When it came time to complete the order, I went to pay and the women said, “No. This is on all of us. We all loved your dad. We want to do this for him.” I was speechless, thanked her and hurriedly left the store.

    I walked outside into the warm Florida sun and plopped down on a bench, and just sat motionless. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Up until that moment, I had been in a pseudo cruise-control mode: planning, calling, ordering, signing papers, dictating, scheduling. Go. Go. Go. Do. Do. Do. I was staying busy but I hadn’t fully comprehended, until that very moment, that my dad was gone. It wasn’t until I saw those ladies’ reaction and how much my dad meant to them and what he meant to me, that I actually started to grieve and feel. It hit me like a tidal wave.

    Being moved by this essay this morning reminded me of the ways my dad’s small kindnesses touched peoples lives which I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Thank you, sincerely, for the wonderful reminder and memories.

    • edie says...

      Pat sounds like he was an outstanding guy. What a wonderful legacy!

    • Anna says...

      Julia, thank you for sharing this. I hope Pat’s kindness inspired others and that they continue to spread the joy that he brought.

    • simone says...

      This is so lovely, your Dad was really special.

    • This made me tear up!

  15. Caitlyn says...

    Wow…thank you for sharing this beautiful essay and all of your wonderful comments! A bright spot on an otherwise dark day for me.

    I was working in Europe as a humanitarian aid and was traveling from Serbia to Switzerland. I was exhausted, dirty, and running a high fever. I was running through a station in Zurich trying to catch a train when my (also very dirty) sleeping bag unhooked from my bag and dropped onto the floor. I scrambled around trying to roll it back up, but I wound up missing the train. I immediately broke down and just wrapped myself in my sleeping bag. All of a sudden, a young Swiss guy appeared with two cups of tea. He sat down with me and offered a cup. I was stunned, because I must have looked homeless ha! We chatted, shared some tea, and he helped me find another train. I will be forever grateful to him for making me feel so welcomed when I felt so alone.

  16. Anna says...

    This anecdote is relatively minor compared to some of the heart-aching stories shared here…After a last weekend away together when we broke up (we knew it was going to be a good-bye trip), I was waiting at the airport for my flight home, and could not stop crying. I sat in a corner and tried to shield my face from everyone, but apparently one kind stranger noticed, because moments before I boarded my flight, she handed me a small Starbucks bag and just said, “This is for you.” I was confused but thanked her, and when I got on my plane, I looked inside and saw a muffin and a note scribbled on a napkin: “Sorry you’re feeling sad. Ice cream usually helps, but they didn’t have any. Hope you like muffins. :) P.S. I Love your hair.” Whenever I encounter rudeness from a stranger, I think back to this moment and I look at the picture on my phone that I took of the napkin, and that small moment still makes me feel grateful and happy.

    • Julia Rezsnyak says...

      I love this and I plan to do this one day. Thank you for sharing!

    • This is such a beautiful story. I never know how to react when someone I don’t know is crying next to me. Now I plan to be the person with the muffin. It’s non-intrusive but sweet and thoughtful.

  17. Julia says...

    This is one of the best thing I have read since January 2017. Thank you for sharing that amazing story. I am a nurse and I can tell you that those small acts of kindness go in all directions–from hospital staff to patient, patient to hospital staff, human to human, etc. So important to pay attention to these things.

    “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl

  18. Avigail says...

    My toddler daughter had been sick since she was 4 months old, crying uncontrollably for hours on end and waking up every 45 minutes all night long for a year screaming in pain for unknown reasons. We took her to many doctors and did bloodwork, tests, etc. I was really down about it and at the end of my rope after a GI appointment. He had taken her (and me because I was nursing) off all soy and dairy. on top of dealing with the difficult situation, I wasn’t allowed to eat my favorite foods anymore. (After a year of not sleeping, you can’t blame me for having my only joy be delicious dairy). I was wandering Whole Foods reading every label and thinking what we could still eat and I remember thinking how miserable I am and wondering if she wil ever get better or if I will ever sleep again. I was SO SO SO DOWN. At that moment a stranger saw me opening all the freezer doors and checking labels so he offered me a coupon for one of the products I picked up. I told him we are going off some products so it wouldn’t help. He called his wife over and told me what foods his grandkids couldn’t eat and what products would work for me. He gave me his daughters name and number and told me to call her to discuss food allergies. I know it seems so insignificant, but in the moment as I wandered the whole food aisles picking up and putting back overpriced products, my eyes filling with tears, having someone offer me a coupon and a few kind words pulled me from despair. I went to my car and sobbed. But I wasn’t just miserable anymore, I also felt comforted and moved by these angels who came to my side. I know they have no idea what they did for me, but it raised my spirits. I saw them a few times afterwards, as they happen to live a few blocks from me. My daughter did get better, but amongst all those sleepless, depressed, and anxious days and nights, I still remember mr and Mrs gold (their real name), and I can’t help but smile and cry again.

    • Awwww <3

    • Hi Joy my son has reflux and allergies too. I’d be happy to discuss it anytime x

  19. edie says...

    This may seem a bit self-centered to write, but this post reminded me of all the times I’ve done something small (and seemingly insignificant) because I knew it would end up being meaningful at the end of the day.

    My best friend in the whole wide world is going through a terrible, terrible time. Two nights ago, I got off work and called them to see how they were doing….they had been in bed all day….despondent.

    So I told them we were going to get dinner. They didn’t want to go out, so I ordered Chinese food and demanded they at least ride with me to pick it up. No one really knows that I did this, but I know it was the thing to do in that moment.

  20. Haley says...

    BRB just casually ugly sobbing on a Sunday morning. Thank you Joanna, for creating this truly special place where raw emotions are celebrated and soothed.

  21. Asha says...

    This essay was the wisdom, reassurance & comfort I needed to be read at this time in my life; the kind I imagine or hope a friend might offer over coffee at the kitchen table. I don’t live near my old friends but reading CoJ and the wonderful comments makes me feel like I’m surrounded by dear friends again.

  22. On the first Mother’s Day after my mom died, I remembered that I needed some worms for a lesson in my kindergarten class the next day. I called the nearest bait shop and the woman who owned the store was at home (it was her cell phone number that she used at the store), but said she would meet me at the store after she ate her lunch. She came back into the store and sold me $3 worth of worms. I don’t think I will ever forget her small act of kindness on a day when I was bereft over the loss of my mom.

  23. Jasmine says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful experience. The comments were so inspiring also! I am going to share this with my fellow nursing students because this is what we want to do. This is what I want to do. People go to the hospital and it is one of the worst days of their lives. I hope to be a nurse that can help change that. What an inspiration.

  24. Rosa says...

    How I looooove this essay. It made my day feel so full of hope. Thanks for your beautifuk thoughtful writting Lisa.

  25. Brooke says...

    Years ago my 85 yr old father was in the hospital with a massively painful spine infection. They had him on so many drugs trying to find a way to manage his pain, but the medications were causing him to act out and hallucinate. I was already really scared and stressed trying to be attentive to all the medical information (only child and sole caregiver for him) and trying to placate my agitated father. Plus, I was reeling from the horrible things and physical swipes my father was directing at me which was so unlike his gentle, kind and loving ways. I remember one night toward the end of visiting hours I was afraid to leave him (worried for his and their safety) and I just lost my grip on my emotions and I started to cry and his nurse came up to me, put her hand on my shoulder, looked directly at me and in the kindest most loving way reassured me that they would take very good care of him and that everything would be okay. She told me to go home and get some much needed rest. I will never forget her and the relief I felt.

  26. tya says...

    what a wonderful post, thanks for always reminding us of the tiny bits of life beauty and gratitude. you are all doing such amazing job for warming the hearts of many and brighten up our days.

    sending love all the way from down under xx

  27. Jill says...

    I love this…

  28. This is so true, that often strangers are our best sources of comfort! I’ve had so many moments like this when emotionally raw in public in NYC. I’m often approached by strangers who see me in my most vulnerable and provide both comfort and entertainment, unsolicited. It’s always an unexpected but welcome experience. Besides a man in Washington Square Park who approached me a few weeks ago while I was feeling down on my luck, to not only say I looked like someone he could make a docu-series about, but also to let me know that I remind him of his first girlfriend that he ever lived with in his 20s.

    Xoxo to all
    Lenny

  29. Sue says...

    Wow. gosh. gulp. So finely writ. Have had surgery myself and been on “tours” w other family mems in their extremity or health crises, so, i get that. Indeed, i appreciate and relate to the perspective, but what i found most poignant and true was what you wrote about small kindnesses and how meaningful and profound, regardless of the circumstance. ie does not have to be in a hospital w a health issue or scary situation. With a surgery last year, my first ever at 52 years, which, thankfully went smoothly and successfully by a truly lovely young surgeon, whom, it was clear she cared deeply and expressed such a sense of humanity and positive demeanor…came a diagnosis– and that has been more challenging to deal with, but i am LIVING each moment of every day, acutely aware being on the receiving-end and indeed, heightened notice of the very small kindnesses you described so exquisitely in your beautiful piece. Thank you, Lisa.

    • Meg says...

      Wishing you all the best with your diagnosis, Sue. You sound brave and smart – I hope you are well very soon.

  30. magda says...

    So lovely, an inspiration to be better!

  31. Courtney Chilton says...

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  32. Olivia says...

    My 29-year-old husband just went in for laparoscopic surgery last week and ended up having a much, much larger surgery and stayed in the hospital for 4 days. I work as a physician assistant in an ICU and the role switch from provider to family member was so, so hard (understanding medicine brings some knowledge and comfort, but also many fears). The first night he was in the hospital, his CNA was truly one of the kindest people I have ever met. He was literally running back and forth from our room, popping in and out unexpectedly with things for both me and my husband just to make us more comfortable. He brought me a recliner, four blankets, four pillows, and tons of ginger ale, and did it all with a smile. We told him the hospital should clone him. We were so sad when his shift was over, because it felt like losing someone who was really invested in taking care of my husband. His nurse was similarly caring and concerned.

    The day he was discharged, we drove up to our pizza restaurant and picked up six pizzas – three for each of the floors he stayed on, with thank you notes. I wheeled him back into the unit with those six pizzas on his lap and a smile on his face, and the first people we saw were his CNA and nurse from that night four days prior! Their faces absolutely lit up. Hugs (and even a kiss on the cheek, one for my husband and one for me! Haha!) were exchanged by all of us. We were so, so thankful, and it felt so fulfilling to be able to express our gratitude.

    • Sasha says...

      Awesome story Olivia, crying some more! I bet you made their whole week with those thank you pizzas.

  33. Amber says...

    Crying at work, indeed. Wow.

  34. JulieB says...

    This story made me cry happy tears. I had the same operation before I had children and my fear was that they would need to completely remove my womb. Luckily I only lost one ovary. My consultant was so kind to me too. I remember vividly him talking to me and running my hand the whole time while I was being put to sleep. I’ve been in hospital a lot through both pregnancies and after as my twin boys were both ill after birth. The kindness of medical staff never failed to amaze me.

  35. Apollonia says...

    Such a beautiful story, Lisa. Thank you for sharing. Your writing is also so powerful! Also, sending all my love to the wonderful people posting here.

    When I was about 10 years old, my Mum and I were down town in Sydney. I took quite a nasty trip and 4,5 elderly ladies who were sitting on a bench nearby scrambled to their feet to sincerely inquire if I were okay. A few days later my Mum happened to be in the same area and the same group of ladies were at the same spot. The remembered my Mum and asked her in such a sweet way how I was doing after that fall. Some 30 odd years later, I still think about that heart warming act of kindness from them.

    Also, thank you to the sweet ladies who replied to a comment of mine on the “contractions” post. They made me feel so seen and comforted.

  36. Lacey says...

    oh my gosh. i’m just crying and smiling like an idiot after reading this. what a sweet SWEET gesture. and now, like you, I will never forget this story. the world is still kind. thank you for sharing. :-)

  37. Leslie says...

    I love this story!

  38. Penny says...

    In this uncaring & often cruel times I needed to read about this unexpected & so uplifting gesture of kindness today.

  39. Mel F says...

    Oh my gosh YES! Keep putting that compassion out into the world friends. Let it flow out you, YOU! The world, and even you and even me need this. Let’s let compassion be the thread that connects us all.

  40. Julie says...

    Thank you for this moving story and for the comments following. So uplifting!
    Three years ago my healthy (and not all that old) Dad fell down the stairs in his home and was killed. Since he lived alone, my brothers and I were left to take care of all that followed. One day soon after his death, we were cleaning some things out of his condo when a neighbor wordlessly dropped some pizzas next to us while we were taking a break on the front steps. He said nothing but his gesture said “I see you… I know you’re in pain, let me help.” I think of that moment often. Small kindnesses are not so small, really.

  41. Rebekah says...

    When I was approaching the end of my maternity leave with my first child, I randomly ran in to a neighbor in the entryway of our building. We were not close but I found myself awkwardly gushing about my anxiety in returning to work for the first time the following morning. The next day, as I came down the stairs I found a note taped to our building door with my name on it. My neighbor had left me a “back to work” pep talk note that made me laugh and smile. To this day, I keep it in the console of my car and whenever I feel guilty or sad about leaving my kids to go to work I take it out and read it, and think of her and her kind gesture.

    • Anna says...

      Oh this is such a lovely story. I love that she knew just how to handle it, and that you loved it so much you still hang on to it. People have such a capacity for kindness.

  42. Cláudia says...

    I actually did cry while reading this. No words…

    • Mel F says...

      Ha ha, same.

  43. Turtle says...

    Simply lovely, and just what I needed today. Thank you.

  44. jk says...

    When our son was about one or so, we noticed something was off. He would limp, or not be able to use his hand, get bruises on his behind from falling while learning to walk. We went to his regular pediatrician, an orthopedist, and pediatric rheumatologist, an allergist. Every one thought they had an answer, claiming each doctor before didn’t now what they were talking about. Sadly, none of them were right. We grew increasingly frustrated and worried. When he was almost two he ran into the bathroom, slipped on the rug, and hit his forehead on the tub. Our pediatrician took a look and said it was fine and would take a bit of time to go away. It didn’t. It got bigger. It drained down and gave him two black eyes. The reaction of people to my son with this giant bump was insane. It was like he had leprosy. Someone even said to us that he “looked like the elephant man and made her want to throw up.” Who says that to another human, especially a baby?! Finally, in a last ditch effort, our pediatrician had him tested for hemophilia. That was the answer. At this point we were so emotionally raw. But when we walked into the Hemophilia Treatment Center at our hospital, a nurse looked up, smiled, and said “Hi! Who is this handsome guy? You look like one of ours!” It was the fist time in so long that we were not looked at in an accusatory way. Someone understood what we were going through. We were not bad parents. We were welcomed. It was such a relief to have someone treat us with kindness. I will never forget that moment.

    • Melissa D says...

      My brothers have hemophilia. I remember going to the hematologist with them and my mom and there was a wall with a smiling picture of each and every patient they had. My little brother pointed his picture out everytime. He was so happy to be at a place that understood he was a kid first, patient second.

  45. T says...

    I’m a silent reader, but I have to comment on this. I had to hold back the tears at work. such a sweet story.

  46. Deb says...

    This made my day in ways you can’t understand. It’s a particularly challenging morning for me and I needed some good old fashioned kindness. Thank-You for sharing…

  47. Holly says...

    When I was 20 years old, I had to have major back surgery for a slipped spine. It was the first time I’d ever had surgery and I was really nervous. I’d read all this stuff about how dangerous anesthesia is and how serious this surgery was. By that morning, I was really scared, but I’d also accepted that there was nothing I could do about it.

    They wheeled me into the operating room (you’re right, that’s the scariest ride ever), and everyone stood around me staring at me. They asked what I wanted to listen to and I also said The Beatles.

    So they started playing Here Comes the Sun. And I thought, well if I die on this table, there are worse ways to go.

    I was totally fine and healed very well from that surgery. But I’ll always remember that moment of peace that I felt right before I went under the anesthesia and it really helps me with the mortality of life.

  48. ErinK says...

    This sweet story made me just sob at my desk. Thank you for sharing <3

    • Anne Elliott says...

      Same here!!! I’m over here crying through my lunch at work.

  49. Anon says...

    I had a minor surgery at the start of December. My first hospital visit, surgery and general anesthetic: and all in a foreign country (France). I was a little teary and nervous.

    When I came around from the anesthetic the first thing I heard was a nurse singing ‘Frosty the Snowman’ in English! I’m Christmas crazy and my post surgery treat was to be choosing our tree that weekend. I incoherently indicated to the nurse that I LOVED christmas music ( it’s not common in France!) and she went off to get her phone to play the rat pack christmas album for me whilst I finished waking up. By the time I was wheeled back to my husband waiting on the ward, I was fully awake and chattering about the Christmas party we’d been having downstairs. He thought I had been hallucinating! Thank goodness for kind nurses.

    • Jackie says...

  50. Jenni says...

    Heart emoji for this. I can find the words, but deep love for your elegant words and insight.

  51. Natalie says...

    Crying ?? so good, such a beautiful take away. The kindness of strangers can be life changing. Years ago I ran the NYC marathon VERY slowly. As I approached the finish line, cheering crowds were around me and a man stepped forward from the crowd, saw my name “Nat” written on my T-shirt and started saying “Go Nat!”, with clenched fists and crouching down a little! It was so moving and touching to me- gave me strength to press on lol. There was a euphoria from hearing a crowd of strangers want the best for me, cheering for me by name. This essay reminded of that. Thank you!

  52. Amy says...

    Thank you for sharing this story. I know this feeling exactly.
    I had a ovarian cyst (along with one ovary and Fallopian tube) removed in December and I was very nervous going into the operating room. I got a little upset and started to cry as the IV was administered. My surgeon looked me right in the eyes and told me everything was going to be OK. I knew she was telling the truth.

  53. Janice says...

    Beautiful…I’m a nurse and cannot wait to share with my colleagues. Thrilled you are ok. Thanks for sharing.

  54. Esmé says...

    I just had minor surgery last week. It is indeed such a vulnerable time where even the smallest kindness is not lost. I was cold, and the nurse brought me not one but two heated blankets and tucked them snuggly around me. Warmed more than my body.

  55. Tyler says...

    Felt compelled to write since this essay detailed a personal experience almost to the tee. I remember feeling the same way as I headed into outpatient surgery during Christmas 2015 for a DNC operation. I too hate hospitals and was still in disbelief that we had lost the heartbeat in our early pregnancy. I had done everything right; I lived a healthy life and now I was here on a table, barely covered and openly vulnerable. I was somehow smiling, which i’m sure looked forced and tense, only because it was my way to fight the onslaught of impending tears. Among all the surrounding “sterilness”, I remember the anesthesiologist making jokes to lighten the mood– something so simple, so kind. It was probably natural to his personality, but it meant the world to me. I never will forget his kindness. Fast forward less than a year later, I’m in the labor and delivery room for our son and who walks in to administer my epidural but the same anesthesiologist. My heart fluttered. It had all come full circle and I couldn’t help but smile. (Also to note, the doctor did not remember me. But I made sure to thank him again.) Goes to show how simple, kind gestures can feel so minute but can be so powerful and long lasting.

  56. Jenn says...

    Like many other readers, I absolutely loved this. It was so beautifully written and also made me cry! “There are few things more terrifying than being wheeled awake into an operating room.” THIS. I had no idea just how scared I would be when I ended up in the OR for a C-section with my first baby. Much of that first week was a blur, but I remember that bright white room so vividly.

    My small act of kindness came a few days later, when, after being in a very small hospital room with a very loud new baby for 3 days, I felt like a bird in a cage and asked my nurse if my husband and I could go for a walk outside. (“A quick one! A 30 second breath of fresh air!”). Looking back now, I realize how crazy this must have sounded. “Will she run away? Do they want to wheel this new baby outside in this wooden hospital bassinet? It is August and 100 degrees outside!” But, my nurse worked with my midwife and the doctor on call to get permission to wheel me around the parking lot, ONCE, in a wheel chair. I will never forget the feeling of sun on my skin and the kind woman who took 5 minutes out of her busy shift to bring me outside.

    Thank you, CoJ, for lovely, heart-lifting content!

  57. H says...

    Last year I had to have emergency surgery at a major NYC hospital. The small kindnesses of the surgery team were so striking – a doctor held my hand while I went under, the anesthesiologist called me “dear”, the recovery nurse told my husband she’d “hang out with me” and call him when I got moved to a room, so he could run out for dinner without worrying. I really hope medical staff understand what a difference it makes to be treated like a human while you’re a patient.

  58. Erika says...

    I choked up reading this. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

  59. My parents lost their home in Harvey, and they’ve bounced between living with my sister and her husband and me and my husband (who is finding it very difficult). We finally had them settled in an RV when my mother fell climbing in and broke her shoulder. After a long night in the ER, I brought her and my dad home with me. It hasn’t been easy as she was in so much pain and couldn’t do much for herself, and I got little rest.

    That first week after her accident, I stopped at a gas station on the way to work. The woman behind the register said, “Honey! You look exhausted. You ok?” I nearly started crying and shared how tired and cursed I felt, and she said, “YOU are a blessing. Don’t you forget that.” It meant more to me than I could express and helped me get through a hard day after very little sleep.

  60. Stephanie L says...

    oh my gosh – goose bumps all over!! amazing!

  61. Loved this so much it brought a tear to my eyes :)

  62. cheryl says...

    This is such a wonderful, wonderful story. Thank you.

  63. bisbee says...

    So lovely…thank you.

  64. Grace says...

    I read this and loved it. I left my house and thought of it as I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. I saw a biker stop their commute to pick up someone else’s garbage can that had fallen over and spilled all their recyclables onto the street. She took time out of her day to pick up someone else’s trash and clean the street. There truly is good and kindness everywhere. It made me smile. That and the fact that minutes later I saw a man walking a raccoon on a leash…..ahhh the joys of Toronto living

  65. Laura says...

    My gosh, this was so sweet and well written. I just sat down to my desk and read this and started to tear up. Just so sweet.

  66. Nadege says...

    Anyone else hoping “small acts of kindness” might show up as an ongoing series on COJ? This has resonated so strongly with so many. It has moved us to remember these small but deeply meaningful moments in our lives and for me at least has inspired me to be mindful about the small ways I can offer kindness to others during the day.

    • Lauren says...

      Yes! Love the idea of making this reoccurring – a reminder that there is so much GOOD in this world!

    • Lea says...

      Agreed!

    • PH says...

      Absolutely! I’m a psychologist and plan to share this story with my team next week during our “self care” time.

  67. Melissa says...

    Crying huge tears at this post. It should be required reading for all nursing and medical students. What a beautiful story.

  68. Debbie says...

    I love this. Thank you for the reminder to look for the kindness in our lives everyday.

  69. laura says...

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. The kind gesture you describe reminds me of a similar moment I experienced.
    A few months ago I had to terminate a pregnancy well into the second trimester. It was a very difficult decision to make after a very dark month of hoping and waiting for things to get better. The week of my termination procedure I could only really think about my own health and getting through the procedure safely. As I walked into the operating room shaking from the cold and wondering “how the f*!k did I get here?” I was told to lay on the table. The anesthesiologist and the nurse reassured me it would get warmer as they strapped me in and looked for extra blankets while my knees involuntarily knocked towards each other as my whole body shivered. I’d never had any sort of surgery before (besides wisdom teeth removal) and all I could think of was my 2 year old son at home and what if I didn’t make it back home to him.
    The head doctor came in and introduced herself. I was already strapped down the to the table at this point and I apologized in advance just in case the meds made me say something mean or made me sob (as they had with my wisdom teeth). And in that strange awful moment the doctor showed her human side and talked about how odd it is to be put under and how a similar thing had happened to her. She gently rubbed my shoulder as she recounted this and that simple gesture made me feel so calm and at ease.

    As I counted back from 10 I asked that they “please take good care of me” and they reassured me that they would. And they did.

  70. MB says...

    Unexpectedly beautiful and poignant, and by reading the comments, just the reminder everyone needed. What a talented writer!

  71. Cait says...

    a simple and lovely moment, thank you for sharing :)

  72. Jess says...

    CoJ is likely the only blog where I actually look forward to reading the comments. So many people lifting each other up and sharing their hardships. Thank you to the many readers and editors who make this a safe place on the internet.

    Three years ago someone ran over my dog, and my boyfriend and I, completely distraught, had parked illegally trying to get as close to the emergency vet as possible, and without realizing parked on a locksmith’s property. The owner came out clearly agitated but once he saw what was in the bundle told us to go and he’d take care of the parking. I came back to a note on the dash saying that no one was to tow or ticket my car. I still have that note.

    I find whatever kindness I’ve put out in the world comes back to me tenfold. I also find that not tearing up from these essays is getting increasingly difficult.

    • I am straight up crying at my desk.

    • Colleen says...

      I’m so sorry- I can relate to that level of heartbreak, as I had a very similar experience. My dog was also hit by a car and I, too, parked illegally at the vet. Not surprisingly, I received a ticket and decided to protest it through the online portal with my city, knowing that it was a long shot. I simply explained why I was parked illegally and even the government of the very large city where I live showed kindness and waived the ticket fee. I couldn’t believe it. Kindness can come from the unlikeliest of places. What a comfort that is.

  73. Anne says...

    Beautiful and perfect. Thank you.

  74. Oh!
    Just so beautiful. Thank you for remembering to share this moment with gratitude & awe. We can so readily overlook such tender-hearted kindness but you chose to see it & amplify it & to bring tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  75. Sarah says...

    Welp, that hit me right in the tear ducts. (In the best way possible.)

  76. AJ says...

    This is so beautiful. And oh my goodness Lisa, your writing! You took me right into that room, I could hear their voices singing!

  77. Monique says...

    Lisa, it does not surprise me that your thoughtful piece has had so many people comment. You move people. That is a kindness. To be given a moment to put things back into reality during a crazy day – you have given me a kindness.

  78. Small acts of kindness are so important, I loved this story. One of my own to share. I was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma during a prenatal scan, and had to undergo chemotherapy starting at 24 weeks pregnant. I am thankfully in complete remission now, and have a wonderfully healthy baby boy who is almost 4 months old. Sometime last September I was feeling lonely and scared and I commented on a post on this blog about sadness being done having more children, asking for a post on women who were facing illness whilst pregnant. And the response really was amazing, I still remember all the comments including one from Joanna. I especially also remember one from a woman named Amanda who also went through an illness whilst she was pregnant. It made me feel so much less alone, and really meant a lot. So thank you, for creating this wonderful safe and supportive space on the internet.

  79. Kate says...

    I loved this essay. The greatest kindness I have ever been shown was also in hospital. My daughter was diagnosed in utero with both a kidney and cardiac defect. We knew she would have to be taken to NICU after my C-section for monitoring and possible surgery. My paed arranged for her to stay with me in a private room for 24 hours after she was born and then only took her to NICU. This was definitely not protocol but those 24 hours have kept me going for over a year of terrifying surgeries, hospital admissions and tests with my little girl.

  80. Kristina says...

    Am I the only person who had to google “cat cow”? Cause initially that actually sounded horrible and the exact opposite of a small kindness. What a lovely essay!

    • Em says...

      ahahaha I had to google it as well, that literally meant nothing to me!!

    • Melissa says...

      Absolutely loved this essay. And absolutely had to look up cat cow, too : )

  81. Kathy T says...

    The true kindness of others never stops surprising me, and enriching me.

  82. Naomi says...

    Yep. Crying at my desk and now listening to the Beatles. This is such a beautiful read, especially at a time where I’m feeling very vulnerable and helpless. “If this were to be the last song I would hear in my life, please god, don’t let it be Kashmir.” made me laugh though!

  83. Mirte says...

    Beautiful essay, goosebumps all over, a lump in my throat and a smile on my face. I’ll be looking for kindness, but will try to spread it even more. Thank you!

  84. Claire says...

    Crying at my desk. I’ve had to stop reading the comments. I’ll save them for later.

  85. Holly Ritchie says...

    I had the exact same surgery just two months ago, same thoughts and fears about not waking up, weirdly worrying about who would dress my daughter if I died and would my husband remember to pay the nursery fees every month. In the pre-op room they messed up my IV for the administration of the anaesthetic which meant that the drugs flooded my arm instead of entering the vein. The pain and fear I had as they wheeled me into the operating room to try and re-administer the drugs was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. But the consultant patting my head to calm me down is what I try and remember whenever I think about it, not the scary pain, faces staring down and the bright lights, just the little act of kindness.

  86. Jamie says...

    When I had my first child through an emergency c section I had to stay in the hospital for four days. Throughout that time my son and I had a succession of lovely doctors, midwives and nurses looking after us medically but also emotionally and I felt truly supported by a network of these amazing women. It was my introduction to motherhood (as my family live on the other side of the world) and those conversations in the night while I was learning how to nurse my son were just wonderful.

  87. CG says...

    Thank you for this post. Ever since becoming a mother, now with my son in his adorable pre-school years, I too have a host of often irrational fears that keep me awake at night, or any other time, and it can be too overwhelming.

  88. Becky says...

    I’ve been an RN for almost 11 years, just recently finishing my master’s degree to be a nurse anesthetist. I love hearing this from the patient’s perspective because in my 2 1/2 years of training to finish this degree, it was always a goal of mine to make the patient as comfortable as possible. And it will continue to be my goal as I begin my new job next month. I’d do anything to put someone’s mind at ease, surgery and anesthesia can seem scary! Loved your story, thank you for sharing!

    • Simone says...

      Wishing you all the best in your new role you have studied hard for!

  89. Wuselbibi says...

    Oooh, I have to share the number one of random kindnesses I received after reading those great moments of kind strangers. What an awesome story Lisa’s was to begin with, and those comments following! I’ve got to chime in, as long as my tears are flowing anyway.

    When our son was very ill and lying in coma in the ICU for the second week, I was asked by the gentlest young intensive care nurse if I’d like to join the takeout-order for pizza she and her colleagues were making. I was overwhelmed- it wasn’t that I was hungry or cared for the pizza. Just her thinking of me sitting next to my son and offering me a little treat made my cry that evening and several moments since, also.

    I’ll never forget the moment she asked me about the pizza. Of course she did more to improve our son’s situation professionally than she had to, too and I will never forget those too- but the pizza moment stands out as it was her caring for me, instead of looking after my son.

    Today my son has thankfully recovered fully, and more than two years later we are still in contact with this nurse.

    Thank you Cup of Jo for reminding me of the importance of random kindness.

  90. Mary says...

    Oh jo…. what an amazing article. I’ve cried over the article itself and over so many of the comments. You really do have the BEST readers! Kindness does always win and in a hospital setting, especially surgery it is EVERYTHING as that’s the part you’re conscious for. It can be so disempowering as a patient to be in that arena so when someone treats you like a human it makes an enormous difference. Yay to all the health professionals doing a wonderful job every day.

  91. I had to have emergency surgery to remove an abscess from mastitis gone wrong… My kids were 6 months and 2.5 years old and I was totally strung out and exhausted and emotional. It was also my first time having general anesthetic. Just before I drifted off, the surgeon asked me what colour I’d like my pedicure to be, and it made me laugh as I went under. So very kind, so very human.

  92. Very beautiful and so true. When I had to have my thyroid removed, I was a terrible nervous mess too. I was scheduled for surgery in the morning but they let me wait until the evening, I was the last to have surgery on that day. I thought I´d go crazy waiting! But I had a roommate – an elderly lady with thyroid cancer – who was just the best, she´d tell me stories and jokes and it was so helpful. After my surgery I gave her a big flower bouqet and thanked her for her kindness, and she was, like, I didn´t do anything! Yes you did… I often wonder what happened to her.

  93. It’s Friday the 13th today. Last couple of weeks seemed to be tougher then usual. And the feeling of being drained out of energy to appreciate good things has been on raising. And this post is like pill that brings faith in good, to realize that good is in the small, kind gestures. And The Beatles to add. The best therapy for me. Thank you!

  94. Heather says...

    When I was 25 I had my first experience with ovarian torsion. I was a grad student and lived away from family, and so I went to the ER alone. I’ll never forget how one of the OB/GYNs stayed past the end of her shift to see me through the surgery and to call my mom and sister to let them know I was okay. And I can’t say enough about the sweet acupuncturist I see who always tucks me in with a blanket and says “get some good rest” during my session. (I don’t care how old I am, being tucked in is the ultimate feeling of comfort.)

    Also, “be kind to yourself” is such an important thing. It has been my mantra through infertility treatment, a traumatic birth, the NICU, postpartum PTSD, and a micro milk supply. I’ve spent so much time—my entire teens and twenties—being critical of myself, but these experiences have given me a gentle lens to view myself.

  95. Karli says...

    Oh gosh this made me cry. I started reading the comments and started again. Good job, Cup of Jo *sobs*

  96. K says...

    Just lovely. Kindness from strangers just sticks with you. I will always remember when myself and a friend were about 13 and about to board a plane from Germany back to London when it was cancelled at the last minute. We hadn’t flown without our parents before and our German exchange family had already left the airport, so we were pretty nervous. We worked out what to do next with a member of airline staff.

    We didn’t have mobile phones so had to try and find some money for the German payphone to call our parents and let them know. Whilst we were doing so, another member of staff approached us who was concerned that we were alone and started quizzing us in German to which we couldn’t answer.

    An American guy from the same flight then stepped in to talk to her, switching from German to English so we could understand. At one point he said: “I’ve been watching these girls, they’re doing great” deliberately loud enough that we could here.

    Not only was it the encouragement we needed that we were handling the situation ok, the fact a stranger was keeping an eye on us was just amazing. I will never forget his kindness and often if I’m nervous, I’ll remind myself i am “doing great” in his accent!

  97. Tracey Rae Beal says...

    I hope that I can be a small act of kindness at least once in my life.

    I mean I CAN but in the moment I don’t always realize it. I will try to be more aware.

  98. Amy E Jones says...

    What lovely stories! It reminds me of how grateful my mama was while in hospital having her gallbladder out. I arrived with a book of short stories by Russian authors (my boyfriend at the time was very into Russian lit!) & read to her. Twenty years later she still tells me how comforting it was. Should she ever land in the hospital again, I’ll be there. Book in hand.

  99. So lovely and beautifully told. Makes me wish I had complimented this girl this afternoon wearing the loudest-colored outfit I had ever seen, with the biggest necklace I’ve ever seen. Alas I was rushing and stressed to get to a meeting. This story was a reminder that there’s always time to be kind. Thanks Lisa and Jo.

  100. A.M. says...

    This story and all the others on here are so touching. Thanks to everyone for sharing. Here’s one to add.
    When I was 18-19 I went through a really awful period where I flunked out of college and basically lost all confidence in myself. I was hopeless and depressed and my parents were angry and disappointed and we could barely speak to each other. I’ve never felt to bad about myself or life. But my parents insisted I go to a therapist, and she would just talk with me, and share some of her own life, and was so warm and encouraging. It was this bright spot in an otherwise lonely and uncertain time. I’ve always wondered if she was like that with everyone, or if that was what she saw that I needed. When I had turned things around and was coming out of that period and transferring to a new college, we had our last appointment. She was genuinely proud and happy and told me with sincerity “if I had ever had a daughter, I would want her to be like you.” It meant so much to me, especially as fragile as I was then. I can’t imagine that’s a thing many therapists would tell a patient, and she certainly didn’t need to say it, but it has stuck with me for 20 years, and still makes me smile.

  101. Athena says...

    Hi, also crying. And sending so much love to everyone here. ❤️

  102. Lori says...

    I always remember this special midwife. Delivering my baby was the first time I was ever admitted into a hospital, so of course everything was terrifying. I remember meeting one of the midwives during the hospital tour a few weeks before and her personality felt a bit rough. I whispered to my husband that I hope she’s not working the shift of our delivery day. Delivery day came, everything was going smooth, then at 8:20pm my entire room was filled with nurses and doctors. I was terrified to the core. My baby’s heart rate tanked and they needed to get her out ASAP. The only words I could form were “is my baby going to be okay?” No one said anything. I literally saw everything flash before my eyes, the years of fertility treatments, the pregnancy, the baby shower, the nursery waiting for her. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. While I was being whisked into the OR, that midwife spotted me, we locked eyes, she recognized me, I recognized her. She grabbed my hand and whispered it will all be okay. I will never forget her.. My baby girl was born healthy as can be at 8:27PM.

  103. Caroline says...

    How beautiful!
    I was just reading an article about “elevation”—when you witness an act of kindness by others and it makes you feel so moved, and even inspired to also do something kind. I like the idea of us all inspiring each other toward kindness. Let’s do it!

  104. Annie says...

    I wonder how many of these small kindnesses are shown to women of color.

    • Midge says...

      This comment sucker-punched me in the gut. I wish I had thought of it, because I want to know the answer. Thank you, Annie.

  105. Becka says...

    I had a miscarriage this winter and I’m still grieving the loss, and Cup of Jo is always the place I come to for comfort and compassion and community, for a reminder that I am strong and brave and I will heal. I love that so many posts speak to heartbreak and love and loss and hope, the full human experience. When I think back to the care I received from the doctors and medical assistants and nurses throughout the last months, I am still awed by how I was treated with so much kindness and tenderness. It meant the world to me. Thank you, all, for sharing your stories with such generosity and love and for always helping me remember that I’m not alone.

    • Sarah says...

      Becka,
      I am so sorry for your loss. I also suffered a miscarriage recently. Sometimes, on my dark days, I have decided that all the other women out there who have suffered a miscarriage are with me, holding me up, that we are in it together. It has helped me so much. I hope you can feel that we are with you today.

  106. Ashley says...

    This is so beautifully written, and has made be bawl as I read it. I went through a similar experience when I had an unplanned C section with my son, who was born at 32 weeks. The terror and joy of that event was soothed by the amazing kindness of the doctors and nurses. I’ll never forget the kindness of the nurse who stayed with me in recovery while my husband was off to the NICU with our son. We spent the next 6 weeks in the hospital ever day while our boy learned to breath on his own and to grown stronger in the NICU. He’s now a beautiful and goofy 2 year old. Wonderwall by Oasis was playing when he was born, I’ll never forget it! This captured the vulnerability and power of human kindness so beautifully, bravo.

  107. Jocelyn says...

    My mom has been quite sick the last 2 weeks + as I was leaving the hospital one night a bit of a wreck, her night nurse stopped me in the hall + went over his plan for her care for the night… he closed his little pep talk {for me} with “and I’m going to just spend some time with her to acknowledge her as a person… because that’s all we really need, right?” As a nurse myself, I will never forget his words + how they made me feel in that very scary moment.