I was making my gratitude list this morning. (It’s an exercise I’ve been doing for a couple of weeks now.) Today’s exercise was to list specifically certain people who have impacted you in some way.
I was listing some of the obvious ones: my husband, best girlfriend, etc.
And then I remembered a person from over a decade ago, someone who helped me in a seemingly small way, but it made such an impression that the memory still comes up for me this many years since it happened.
When my son was four, he was playing in the kitchen and living room, pretending to be Spider-Man. I was in the living room reading and talking to him while he played.
It was late evening, after dinner time, and really dark out. It was winter.
I heard a bump and Eli started to cry and he came to me holding his head. “Let me see, ButterBean.”
He moved his hand, and there was blood running down his head and face. I grabbed a dishtowel and pressed it to his head, all the while telling him it wasn’t bad, that everything was going to be all right, and we were going to the doctor.
I don’t know now how I kept from completely freaking out, but by the miracle of motherhood, I kept my cool so Eli wouldn’t be afraid.
I put him in the car, but I wanted to keep a hold on his head so it wouldn’t bleed too much, so I buckled him into the front seat. He asked me, “Mommy, won’t we be in trouble with the police if I ride up here with you?” I told him not to worry, we’d go slowly, and if the police stopped us I would tell him what was going on and it would all be ok.
I found an urgent care clinic that was open and they got to us pretty quickly. The nurse on duty was very soft-spoken and nice so Eli was comfortable with him right away. He cleaned up Eli’s cut and gave me a piece of gauze with a numbing agent on it to hold onto his head so that getting the stitches wouldn’t hurt. While we waited, I called Eli’s dad to let him know what was going on. He was on a weekend-long hunting trip a few hours away so he wouldn’t be back for another day or so. As soon as I told him what had happened, the first thing he asked me was “How much is it gonna cost for all that? What was he doing when he got hurt anyway? Was he standing on that stupid stool washing dishes??”
I had been teaching Eli how to wash dishes, something we really had fun doing together. I was happy to be able to tell Eli’s dad that no, in fact, he hadn’t been doing dishes, he had been playing Spiderman.
If you couldn’t guess, the marriage was not a good, nor a supportive one. We were right at the point of separating, I think we actually did just a month or so after this had happened.
So, we are at the urgent care clinic, Eli got his stitches put in without a single tear shed, thankfully, and we were getting ready to leave. I was at the counter getting out my checkbook, and the nurse looked at me and said, “Hang on just a second, I’ll be right back.” He left for a minute and came back with a cotton ball wet with water or some kind of skin cleanser, I’m not sure.
He said,’ You’ve still got some blood on you, hang on…” and he reached over and cleaned the blood off of my chin and cheek.
We finished up the payment and got the receipt and left.
As I sat down in the car, Eli buckled into his car seat in the back this time, I burst into tears.
I hadn’t been shown that kind of tenderness or kindness in several years. I had not realized how disconnected and numb I had been until someone was kind to me. It broke my heart a little, while at the same time, restoring my faith and my hope in the goodness of people.
That nurse never told us his name, and we never had reason to go back to that clinic. He probably never thought of Eli and me ever again.
I’m sharing this story simply to share how a simple act of kindness like this can truly help someone.
What the nurse did wasn’t a huge thing, for him just a simple nursing duty probably. The point is, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to be kind and to show a little empathy for other people.
You never know how your actions may truly help another when they need it the most.
So, be kind, hold space for folks when they’re having a tough time.
And to the nurse who helped us that night, thank you. Your kindness helped me in ways you may never realize.
If you like this article, check out: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/the-delicate-nature-of-goodbyes/