I'm not going to talk about the recent riots in England, although of course you can count that, too. Maybe seeing such violence, such greed, such horridness contributed to this sadness that I am feeling right now. Or maybe it's the fact that two of my best friends have recently lost a loved one (both due to ill health).
I've had my share of life's harshness. Quite recently, something happened that I couldn't shake off my system. Perhaps it's because I saw the pain in my husband's eyes when he told me about it. My husband and I took our son J for a long weekend holiday. We were at the town centre walking around. (For those of you who don't know yet, my son travels in his wheelchair. He has special needs.) As we walked past a few shops, we could see a man, a woman and two children who were also looking around. As we approached them, the man looked at my husband who was pushing J's wheelchair and glowered at J, then at me. And just before they walked past, the man said out loud, making sure my husband heard him, "That's what happens when the child is half-caste."
I did not hear this as I was too busy looking around. Husband told me, in a dejected voice, what was said when we got back to the hotel. "How can people be so judgmental?" I didn't know what to say to him. I tried to comfort him by saying in a nonchalant tone, "You've heard worse than that! Take no notice of them." Of course I wasn't very convincing. That night, while my two boys snored themselves to dreamland, I was awake. Thinking. Asking.
For a moment, I stopped. There had been worse than that! My experiences are not as bad as the ones who have lost their homes or livelihood or even life of a loved one and although it is a small piece of this atrocity that seems to be spreading like a disease, I shouldn't be focusing on these things. I have two imaginary boxes in my head: one is labelled "Forgettable Nonsense" and another one is "Happy Moments." Immediately, I mentally put this recent experience into the "Forgettable Nonsense" box.
I rummaged in my "Happy Moments" box. I needed to find memories of "kindness."
I know it is there. More than this wicked behaviour.
Like those strangers who help me when I struggle to open the doors while I push J's wheelchair in shops, supermarket and cafes.
The lady who held J's hand and spoke to him a few days ago, even if she knew my son couldn't speak.
Last week, there was a young woman who picked J's cap when he dropped it without me noticing it.
Those emails I receive from friends asking how J is doing? How am I feeling? Have I gotten some sleep? Messages that let me know people care.
Ahhhh, my "Happy Moments" box is full.
I do not expect people to like my son. I understand that sometimes he may look odd to some people. I am aware that his unusual movements can make some people feel uncomfortable. This is why when people show me kindness, it means so much to me.
I'd like some respect. Not pity.
Plain acceptance of something that IS.
When I get a little bit of any of this, coupled with a lot of kindness, I begin to forget the vicious.
I see the goodness of life again.
"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see"
- Mark Twain