Small acts of compassion

I no longer remember how many days and nights I sat by his side through the night. He told me – please don’t leave me alone. For the first time in his life – in the life we shared – he was truly afraid. My mother was tired and sleeping a lot. In the early evening she would leave the medical center, walk outside, hurry across the busy street and return to our hotel room. There she would nibble on something small, drink a glass of wine, and try to pretend none of this could possibly be happening to her fairy tale prince.

On the good nights – I would massage his hands and feet, place cool washcloths on his forehead, and listen to him talk. On the bad nights, I would gather my wits about me and make friends with whomever was on the floor who could help us make it through the night. And at some point – usually an hour or two before dawn, he would sleep, and I would sleep, and in that delicious sleep – we steeled ourselves for another day.

At dawn the shift would change, new relationships to negotiate, new friends to make, and my mother would come. She would beg me to stay. Please stay until the Doctors make rounds. Please stay until he is stable. Please stay until… and then it would be evening and the cycle began again.

One day – as I slipped out of his room to get a breath of fresh air – I was startled to see my brother’s fiance. She said “I didn’t want to interfere. I know he treasures his privacy. Is there anything I can do for you?” And in that moment I nearly collapsed from that small kindness. After weeks of hospital food – she went out and bought me a favorite treat and delivered it to me. As I ate it, I felt filled with love and knew I would have the strength to face another night.

Three years removed, the comfort of that simple act still fills my heart with love and comfort. In a time of unspeakable pain and grief – I learned that a small act of compassion makes a monumental difference.

Jill – sister of my heart. I love you.

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8 thoughts on “Small acts of compassion”

  1. It really is the small acts of kindness that leave the largest imprint in our hearts Julie. Like you I have been touched by some of the small things. I recall a young boy, from a primary school I visited to run special writing workshops, particularly asking me how Darryl was and making me a card wishing us well. Given that the lad was always in trouble and was a school refuser this was particularly moving.

  2. A gesture of kindness and understanding is a precious thing. How wise of her to see that her support was best directed to you, already giving so much of yourself.

  3. I’ve just caught up with this and am so moved by what you’ve written. So often it isn’t the grand gestures that stay with us; it’s a glance of understanding, a whispered sentence or the gift of time that provides a little respite from exhausted vigil.

  4. I must be in an emotional mood this morning. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. But they’re the good kind of tears, tears of gratitude for the little things in life that make such a huge difference.

    1. I seem to give what I can, to whomever I see might need it…whether it’s money (even when I’m always strapped for cash myself), time, free services, encouragement. With this, I always find myself in a jam. I have men that simply want be for the way I look and for sex, I have a job that leaves me unable to pay my bills or do anything fun with my kids, a car that is ready to die and no money to fix any of this. I’d be more then willing to re-educate myself to get a better career but again, that takes money or loans (already extended myself in that regard) It also takes time away from my kids and from my job…not an option at the moment. I suppose I’m jaded or have come to the point that I have lost all hope. I sit here day and night and worry about everything. I’m tired of trying and never getting a break.

      So much for compassion!

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