Kindness

“A miracle is defined by gratitude.”  from Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup

Oh, how I have wished for a miracle. I sent my youngest daughter off to kindergarten with the best intentions wrapped around her shoulders. She would walk into the classroom and this expectation would unfurl into rapid learning. Letters and numbers would click into symbols she understood with ease. She would shed her frustration like a too small Dora shirt. She no longer likes this cartoon girl, so it would be so easy to put the T-shirt in the Goodwill pile.

I didn’t receive this miracle. Annie kept being Annie, and the adults stepped up to the plate to figure out how to best help my girl. Her teacher gave me a clear image of the problem I found hard to take in, and we have spent the better part of the year unraveling the mystery of a learning disability. We are still right in the middle of this work, and it’s a journey I never imagined for this magnificent creature of a child. But it is her path, and I am her mom. It is right before us, and it finally feels O.K. to say that.

I did fully receive a different miracle. I know this is a marvelous gift because every inch of my being feels gratitude. Every day I accept several packages of kindness from various souls: friends, strangers, acquaintances, relatives. The depth of my sorrow has surprised me, and I have been thirsty for kindness. I’m not saying I have sought this form of grace. It has fallen in my lap again and again. Moms have told me they understand my grief. Friends have dropped everything just to be with me, and we have spent luscious hours chatting together. My brothers have called, offering questions and humor. I have to say I am a big fan of laughter. During a difficult morning, Annie offered to draw me “a sweet picture later.”

I have taken up so much space lately, and maybe people think I should shrink in on myself. Luckily, no one has tried to put me in any boxes. Instead, they offer up so many forms of kindness that I am tucking this helpful word into my head. It is time for a new mantra. In gratitude for all the love I have received, I will place this word on my tongue whenever I need a moment of stillness in my life. I say it for all of you — the good-hearted people who have taken me into your graceful ways — and give it as a blessing right back at you.

1 thought on “Kindness

  1. This is the gorgeous writing I still remember from you, a voice so clear and beautiful. For me, it is as if you have the voice of a Julie Andrews! and your lucky, lucky little Annie. Both she and you will conquer the letters and the reading and there will be something she will find easy to do along the way. One of my best friends has a severely autistic son, now in his early thirties. We have been friends for over thirty years, so I have seen the struggle since he was a bit younger than Annie. It is a difficult road, but you, Nancy, you are every bit up to the challenge as is my friend Chris. lots of love to you and thank you so much for sharing.

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