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Kindness from friends, family and complete strangers. It will be my enduring memory of this particular funeral.

The Kid is always strong, even during nap time. 
My mother-in-law passed away December 2, 2013. Just a week before, we packed up the our car and made the drive down because she was rushed to the hospital and had to be resuscitated several times during her first few hours in the emergency department. We hit the road, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.

Our drive to Tampa took significantly longer than usual, specifically because of nasty fog and terrible road conditions in Tennessee.  We arrived late on Thanksgiving Eve, spent and heartbroken from the knowledge that this trip would be the last time we would see Rosa alive.

As you might expect, the following week was a blur of activity. There were phone calls to make, cousins to console, funeral plans to make, clothes to buy (we were really hoping for the best), and a toddler to keep entertained.

The kindness of a five year-old boy

The night of the visitation, one of my sister-in-law's good friends gave us a sympathy card with gift cards for our trip home, which we are still very appreciative of, but what struck me was what her son did. He was clearing out his room in preparation for Christmas, and decided that he would give all of the "girly" toys to The Kid, including a little pink Teddy Bear he recently got with his Happy Meal. He'd never met The Kid before, or us for that matter but he heard that she lost her grandmother and wanted to do something to help.

I know he really didn't think he did too much. He didn't want the stuff anyway, it was too girly for a five year-old rough-and-tumble boy to have hanging around his bedroom. But I made sure to tell him when I met him the next night just how appreciative I was of his generosity. I hope it's a quality that stays with him for a lifetime.

The kindness of a stranger

After the funeral, we stayed at a hotel room near my sister in-law's house, so we could get an early start on our way home the next day. Gladys decided to take advantage of the washer and dryer at the hotel, so we wouldn't have as much laundry to worry about when we got home. She wasn't the only person with that thought, and we ended up having to wait for the dryer to free up. In fact, the person who used it before her had 99 minutes on the timer.

About 99 minutes after Gladys found out we would be waiting half the night to get our clothes dry, I went downstairs to pop our stuff in the dryer. The gentleman who was waiting to use the facilities when Gladys started our laundry odyssey was sitting in the only chair in the room, which was located directly across from the only dryer. When I walked in, he pointed to a pile of clothes on the folding table and said, "those are yours."

I agreed with him, they were ours and I was just coming down to put them in the dryer. He said they were already dry.

It turns out, the woman who had 99 minutes on the timer took her clothes out well before her time was up. He popped our clothes in because he knew we had a toddler, and when the time ran short, he put a few more quarters in to make sure things were dry.  I was stunned. What I thought was going to be a long night turned out to be an early trip to bed, something I desperately needed.

These two events aren't particularly noteworthy, although they are cute stories for me to try lightening conversations about a tough week for my family.  But they helped me recognize that there was a lot of kindness given to us by friends and family that really lightened our burden during that week.

There is my friend who took Barney on a few hours notice with no idea when we'd be back to get him. My sister in-law opened her home to us for a week without hesitation or charge. A cousin booked our hotel room for our last night in Tampa so we could have a little time alone as a family before returning home. All the cooking my sister in-law's boyfriend did for the family.  The messages from friends in all over the US and I had a coworker text me on a regular basis to see how we were holding up. Even the simple act of responding to a post on Facebook seemed incredibly kind to me this week, and was helpful in my nascent efforts to figure out what live will be like after Rosa's passing.

Kindness isn't sexy. Simple courtesies normally don't attract headlines. But they do help lighten burdens, and I am thankful for all the help.



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