by Carol Fragale Brill
A couple of blogs ago, I wrote about my worry that chemo treatments and losing my hair might make me look sick or unable. I imagined people would gawk at my scarf-wrapped head—or worse, dart their eyes away from me, rendering me invisible.
Like so often when I wring my hands and project about the future, those worries were a waste of energy and time—teaching me once again that worry is like making loan payments before you get the loan.
Repeatedly, the small gestures of others have reminded me how the littlest ripple of kindness can grow into a wave. Like the first time I wrapped my head in a “dress-up” scarf and self-consciously ventured out to an upscale restaurant for dinner with Jim. The waiter gushed about how attractive he found “my very stylish scarf.” A seemingly little gesture—for me and my self-esteem, it was absolutely huge.
I can’t tell you how often strangers—mostly women but also a good number of men—go out of their way to make eye contact with me, hold my gaze, and smile in a way that telegraphs encouragement and support.
My favorite example of a stranger’s small act of kindness might be the woman who came up to me in the grocery store, gestured discreetly at my head-wrap and said, “I had that same hairstyle three years ago.” She winked and added, “Don’t worry, it really does grow back.”
Even more encouraging than her headful of hair was her healthy appearance—living proof that you can kick cancer’s butt.
The concept of small acts of kindness might sound cliché. For me, these little ripples from strangers help normalize a time that often feels anything but normal. And, far from making me feel invisible, they validate my experience and boost my self-esteem.
So what small acts of kindness has someone showed to you? And, what can you do today to start a ripple that churns up a kindness wave?