Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Compassion Tea And Grandma's Beautiful Hat

--by worldcitizen, posted Jun 7, 2011

It was a cold Friday afternoon when a dear friend showed up at our door. We believe that there is always time for tea, so we had tea. Four of us were enjoying the presence of each other, when suddenly, we heard the sirens of a fire truck and an ambulance parking in front of our house. We are new in this neighborhood, moving in only 3 months ago; opening the door I noticed that some paramedics were running up the stairs of our front neighbor's house. On the side walk, a woman in her thirties was in deep commotion crying on the phone. A scared, desperate 13 year old was half way up the stairs. She looked at me in the eye with a horrifying expression of disbelief. Although she was silent, her soul was screaming. "Everything is going to be alright," I replied in silence.

Something beyond the comprehension of our rational minds was occurring.

The woman on the side walk was sobbing uncontrollably. I walked towards her. Then, some paramedics came down the stairs carrying a stretcher with the body of another teenager. Apparently, emergency aid equipment was maintaining the breath and heartbeat of this girl. One of the paramedics was carrying a lot of prescription drug bottles. The puzzle pieces slowly began to form a grim outline. It seemed like another case of isolation in our youth, an acute consequence of physical and structural violence.

Finally reaching the woman. I asked her "What can I do for you sister?" she started coughing. "Do you want some water?" In between coughs she acknowledged and attempted to vomit.

Still barefoot, I ran to our house to get a glass of water. I let the tea people know that our teen neighbor hurt herself, probably in an effort to take her life. Our impromptu guest noticed the shift in energy and joined me to connect with this family in pain. After all, as she reflected later, she was taking an inspiring compassion class and what better assignment than walking the talk. 

As our guest and I gave our beloved neighbor the glass of water, her pain seemed to diminish a little bit. Somehow, the water of compassion works. It turned out that the woman on the sidewalk is one of four sisters, two adults and two teens. The 13 year old joined us on the side walk and looked at our shoe-less feet and kept sending text messages on her cellphone. 

A tough mom came down the stairs and yelled at her older daughter: "You are not driving anywhere!" "You stay here! you hear me?" We offered to drive them to the hospital, but the mom in (disguised) shock didn't want help and yelled again: "She is a grown up and she can take care of herself. She is alright!"

A baby, who was inside the older daughter's car that she pretended to drive, started crying. Apparently, the whole episode was an argument between the mother and one of the teen-daughters. Because of the rampant violence in the neighborhood, the mom was concerned about the safety of her daughter and prohibited her leaving the house without permission to go to the mall and the movies. As in any society in crisis, our youth are excellent, blatant thermometers of the health of our communities.

When the mom was ready to board the ambulance, a police officer asked us for the mom of the self-injured teen (and the mom's ID!, I'm wondering if it was necessary at that point). The police officer had in his hands a hand written letter within which this girl explained why she was taking her own life.

The last piece of the puzzle. The outline was confirmed.

Something shifted in the mom, but not truely. 

Another neighbor hugged the older sister who, by now, was carrying her two year old son. The neighbor confessed, in front of all of us, that when she was a teen she also tried to commit suicide, and there she was. A kind of support I have never thought about.

We started talking to the crying two year old. For a few seconds he stopped and he seemed to be the most grounded out of all of us. He smiled at us in his innocence and dramatically shifted the atmospheric energy. I extended my arms to invite him to come my way, and his mom gently delivered the kid. This is the first time that we ever met. He was a bit unfamiliar with my arms and face and in an attempt to distract him from this strangeness, I asked if he wanted to play with "grandma's beautiful hat". The mom/grandma replied "I ain't no grandma! Only Nana, isn't it sweety?!" The baby melted Nana with his charm. For the first time Nana smiled as she carried her grandson.

We left the scene not without hugging the (fierce transparent) neighbor, the grandson and the two sisters --we didn't meet the forth one. We all offered our help and let them know that our door and hearts are always open if they need any support. 

When we come back to our house, we noticed that the two (or three sisters) were by themselves. We wanted to shower them with love. So we prepared a hot lentil soup with mint, a yellow daal, and peppermint and lemon balm hot tea from our medicine patch. We also made a handmade watercolor card signed with messages of love solidarity and hope, and a bouquet of ~25 different flowers from our garden. All this as a message to let them know that they are not alone. We all are in this together. We are the Grand Human Family and won't be healthy until everybody is healthy.

This cup of compassion tea served as a balm for our collective soul.

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  • Posted by worldcitizen
  • Jun 7, 2011
  • 23 Smiles, 7 Comments

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