A Complicated Kindness

That's the title of a book I've been reading, a novel "shot through with sadness, the spectre of loss, and unexpected humor," the fictional story of a young Mennonite girl.
(I'm not necessarily recommending the book... I've been about half way through it for a couple months now; I liked it, but for whatever reason I abandoned it, and just haven't picked it back up.)
But those words stuck with me because, for us, that's life right now - shot through with sadness, the spectre of loss, and unexpected humor...
The sadness and the loss might go without saying.  But the humor?  Oh, thank goodness for Tucker.  For his copious smiles and generous laughter. He finds humor in the most unexpected places, the simplest things -- the swoosh of the dog's tail, the right toy at the right time, long hair tickling his tummy, getting his behind wiped, for goodness sake, can make him giggle. And when he smiles, we smile; when he laughs, we laugh.

The book title seemed apropos, too, because of the kindnesses we've been shown so often recently. There is kindness here, but it's complicated.  When we're forgiven for being late, or for not returning phone calls, or for canceling appointments and bailing on plans we're shown a not-so-ordinary sort of kindness.  When, during times of recession in our nation, so many people have shared so much with our family, to help us care for Celia, we feel extraordinary kindness.  We see kindness in the faces of so many people who want to help, but they don't know what to do or what to say. When they ask us how we're doing, what they mean is how are we managing to deal with losing our daughter, with lack of sleep, with each other. It's not the kind of question that can be answered easily, or quickly. And it's not the kind of answer most people, no matter how sincere their query, want to hear. And sometimes, most times, we don't even know how we're doing.  But kind people ask, and do, anyway.

There's plenty of simpler kindness, too. Portrait sessions are donated. Grocery gift cards are mailed anonymously. A getaway is arranged.  Hanging baskets are snuck into position on our front porch, friends call to share funny stories because they know we need to laugh, a triathlete races for Celia and a card company raises awareness... And, on second thought, maybe these kindnesses aren't so simple either.  Maybe there isn't such a thing as simple kindness... each kind gesture we're shown feels big and fancy and so special.
Recently we saw an abbreviated list of things that are being raffled to benefit BDSRA at The Book Loft's Cardthartic Event -- round-trip airline tickets, accommodations and spa treatments, photography sessions and greeting cards.*  Some of the items come from people who have already done far too much for Celia and our family, and some of the items come from people whom we've never met, who don't know us, who are way too generous and so very kind. 

Sometimes we want life to be something we can do on our own. Good thing it isn't.  But it's hard to know how to express our gratitude. Friends, relatives, complete strangers have become completely captivated by Celia's charm. And so they do kind things for her. For us. These little (and not so little) acts of kindness remind us how blessed we are to be Celia's parents.  We try not to be sad about things that make us so happy, but sometimes we're so overwhelmed by kindness, we feel sad in the reassuring way that some sadness has.  Sadness can be complicated, too...

*If you'd like more information about the raffle, please visit this page.  Tickets can be purchased in advance, and you do not have to be present to win.

1 comment:

Christy said...

I love the way you so eloquently put my thoughts into words. I wish I were so good at it!