Tonight is Christmas Eve. It’s the first one in 26 years where it’s just been Brad and I, and we have been trying to bravely prepare ourselves for months. The girls aren’t home because they have both graduated college and as workplace newbie’s, have to work over the holidays. I miss them like crazy, but they are doing exactly what they were raised to do, make their way through life as strong independent women. I am one proud mama!
Then there’s Josh. That’s a whole different level of missing! While I can pick up the phone or jump on a plane to see my girls, I will have to likely wait many more years before I get to see my son!
Today I was driving over to the cemetery to put flowers on his grave. I readied my bag with everything I needed and headed out. About 3 minutes into the drive I had a sudden deep urge to go by the florist and pickup live flowers. While we usually use silk, today I needed more.
I walked in and was greeted by a smile of a lovely woman named Laura who asked how she could help….such a loaded question and she is a brave soul indeed. As I gently shared with her my current situation, “my son died 8 years ago and while I was heading to the cemetery, I felt the urgent need for live flowers. Can you convert one of these bouquets into something I can lay upon his grave?”
She thought for a moment and then began to pull individual flowers from the bins as she shared her plan for something special for my boy. I thought it sounded really nice and in a moment she gathered all the plants in her arms and disappeared behind the counter.
I of course became distracted by all the beautiful and shiny things that surrounded me in this shop, when a second woman near the front desk preparing flowers looked at me and said, “I overheard what you said to Laura…”
Something in her eyes let me know I was safe so I shared special moments about Josh. It’s been a while since someone welcomed me to talk about Josh and it was so very touching. She finished her task, smiled at me and moved to the back area.
A moment later, Laura arrived with a beautiful bouquet of red roses, white daisies, pine branches and a big red bow! It was just perfect! I turned to pay at the counter, but she just continued around the counter directly placing the flowers in my arms as she said “Merry Christmas!”
When I asked her how much, she responded, “The woman you just spoke with is the owner of the store and she wants you to have this for your sweet boy. Merry Christmas!” My initial response of course was to give her a big warm hug and then it was time for a quick exit. I could feel it happening, the mask and composure I have worked so hard to reinforce over the last eight years completely crumbled.
I didn’t even make to the car before I was overcome with tears. An ugly full mouth, gasping barrage of tears! I wept for such an act of kindness, I wept for someone taking interest in Joshua, and I wept over my selfish sadness because I would rather have him home from college celebrating Christmas with us.
A few minutes later as I laid the bouquet on his stone, I thanked God for that special boy He gave me, even if only for a short time, and I thanked Him for kindness of strangers. With one act of kindness, Christmas became heartfelt and holy.
“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”S ~Steve Mariboli.
On this eve when many are separated from their loved ones may you find the magic of kindness and love!