Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Dust In The Wind

--by sadhvini, posted Jan 26, 2008
It happened so suddenly.  She said she wasn’t feeling well, so she took a shower, drank some tea, and went for a nap just before dinner.  By 5PM, she had passed away.

“That’s insane. I just saw Sushila Auntie last week. She’s fine. I mean, she’s my mom’s age. There must be some sort of mistake,” I thought to myself.

No mistake, unfortunately.

Sitting in the living room at Narayan Uncle’s house to pay our condolences for the passing of his wife, the thoughts in my head wouldn’t stop.   That’s my Narayan Uncle sitting there. He’s been around forever.   And next to him would always be Sushila Auntie.  I just saw her last week. All I gave her was a perfunctory, “Hi”.   Why?  Because she was always there.

Yet, there is so much more to the being “there” than one realizes, because once that’s gone, things seem strange and askew. I knew nothing about her, she knew even less about me, but now, I kept feeling like I should have said tried harder, I should've said more than "Hi".

I walked outside onto the porch to talk to her son, Anish. “Hey kiddo, long time no see,” he says. “Like 13 years,” I say. “Why has it been that long? How do people just stop talking to each other like that?”   I didn't know the answer to that.  I really don’t know.   Perhaps because we’re all just THERE, so we forget to pay attention.

“How are you holding up?” I ask him. “Better than yesterday. I had a dream last night about her. She was walking away from me waving and telling me that she’s ok and feels much better. That’s it. I haven’t told anyone else because they would think it weird.”   "No, that’s not weird. What’s weird is that this is the first time I’ve actively thought about you or your mother in like a decade. I should have called more than just on the rarest of occasions."

I went back in and sat next to Narayan Uncle. He was handling this with such grace and dignity; it was beautiful. I told him this. He said, “You know what? I never knew everyone had so much love for me. To be honest, I don’t think I would have the same reaction if something like this happened to you or your family.”  Neither did I. But I do now. He shouldn’t have had to wait to feel the love of friends.

In the car on the way back home, I remembered again what I already knew:   Your neighbors, that guy you see on the subway every morning, the woman at the grocery store that always takes out the fresh produce for you, the homeless dude outside Washington Square Park who’s been warning me since I was 13 that squirrels are conspiring against us - they are not strangers, they are all  THERE. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday-ness routine of it all, but these people are part of the fabric of your life. A smile, a good wish, a simple thank you while looking into their eyes, or a small act of kindness attached to a Smile Card should be theirs for more than just a special occasion.

Thanks Sushila Auntie, for reminding me that I can be better.
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Readers Comments

andysign wrote: Good article. Thanks
Birene wrote: It's great that you took time to talk to Anish. The kids are sometimes left out of the greiving process. It helped him and gave you insight.
Never miss the chance to "spread the love" with words of kindness!
guddan wrote: very touching story.lost f loved ones gv us to mch grievance bt we sd always remember there gud work, and spread to them
beastly wrote: thank you for sharing this :)
laurissa wrote: its true family is ment to be evrything but how much do we really know about them?! this story has inspried me to get to know them alot more. its the least io can do
Barbie wrote: Your story touched my heart. I too experienced the loss of loved ones that I took for granted. Life has a funny way of teaching me what is important. Today I live to show those who are in my life the love they deserve. That I appreciate them. However in my humaness, some days I get caught up in myself,"to busy" mentality. Thank God they are becoming less frequent, and I am learning what real gratitude means.
theresa wrote: sorry to hear about your aunt but you know that your family is there for you. it is very hard when you lose a loved one i know because i lost both of my parent within 2yrs. it does get easier but you never forget them.
katlampi wrote: You are absolutely right -- we are all just THERE, and we fail to truly appreciate each other. We take people's presence for granted, and don't realize its impermanence. Thank you for sharing this valuable lesson. My condolences to you and your family. --Kathryn
sabrina wrote: Ther was this guy who distributed newspapers outside the subway station everymorning.It was nice to see him smiling. SUddenly one day he disappeared n think for the next two weeks i wud look for that smile.
We do take things for granted and realise only when we lose it.

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